Cover Story

Spring’s Northern ALX Native Plant Sale Offers Plants That Thrive in NoVA

(Photo: Susan McLain Sullivan)

Alexandria, VA – Long before winter began transitioning to spring, C. Scott Knudsen was making plans for the spring 2024 Northern Alexandria Native Plant Sale set for Saturday, April 27. Spring is when people think about what kinds of plants to choose and new opportunities to promote native plants as smart choices for both novice and experienced gardeners. Knudsen, a lifelong native plant enthusiast, said some gardeners need only to learn the virtues of native plants to make successful garden and landscape investments for decks, patios, and yards.

Scott Knudsen starts planning the Alexandria Native Plant Sale many months ahead. (Photo: Susan McLain Sullivan)

As more native plants thrive in the region’s climate and the soil conditions of Northern Virginia, the popularity of native plants will continue to grow, Knudsen explained enthusiastically. The spring event runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be held again at the Church of St. Clement located at 1701 N. Quaker Lane in Alexandria. Parking in the Christ the King Church parking lot across the street will be allowed at the April 27 event.

“Most of these plants will grow without care if you select the right plant for the right spot,” Knudsen said, adding that he promotes using “natives” in all locations and conditions. As a certified “Tree Steward”—a gardening classification of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service—Knudsen has a keen appreciation for the trees of Virginia and many other places. In some tree species, he noted, “the roots go out three times the (canopy) drip line,” citing the need to consider the placement of plants and trees.

For more than 20 years, he has helped to coordinate the vendors and volunteers of the Northern Virginia Native Plant Sale’s spring and fall events, beginning in fall 2003, when five vendors and many volunteers launched the program on the Parkfairfax tennis courts. In spring 2004, the group’s spring plant sale was established and has since flourished over the years under the management of Knudsen and the help of more vendors and devoted volunteers, including his spouse, Susan Cranford.

“I want the sale to be a market for new vendors,” Knudsen added. “I want the sale to be a resource for native plants and information—and a place for vendors of native plants to find a market for their wares.”

For virtually all of his adult life, Knudsen said he has been campaigning for the selection and use of native plants to answer many of the horticultural challenges presented by the Northern Virginia climate. The spring native plant sale at the Church of St. Clement parking lot is a venue for Knudsen and his troop of volunteers to share the advantages and merits of choosing native plants. About a dozen native plant vendors from Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and Pennsylvania are scheduled to bring a variety of healthy native plants to the sale.

(Photo: Susan McLain Sullivan)

Knudsen said people of all ages and interest levels can experience the botanical pleasure of introducing just the right plant for any size garden, terrace, or yard. Wearing his green passion on his sleeve, Knudsen enjoys helping native plant sale attendees find a perfect plant that will thrive in the climate and soil of their corner of Northern Virginia.

The ALX Native Plant Sale will be at the Church of St. Clement, 1701 N. Quaker Lane, Alexandria. Parking in the Christ the King Church parking lot across the street will be allowed at the April 27 event.

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