Sperryville column for April 12

Caught by a trout

FIN-ISH FURNITURE: Old Hollow Artisans was born, and built this bench outside the Corner Store/Thornton River Grille, after avid fly fisherman Mike Fitzhugh and his wife, Jenny,were inspired by a trout-themed bench he saw in Colorado.Courtesy photo
FIN-ISH FURNITURE: Old Hollow Artisans was born, and built this bench outside the Corner Store/Thornton River Grille, after avid fly fisherman Mike Fitzhugh and his wife, Jenny,were inspired by a trout-themed bench he saw in Colorado.

A gorgeous five-foot trout is swimming along the back of a bench and will catch your eye as you park your car behind the Corner Store/Thornton River Grille, created by Old Hollow Artisans, comprised of master craftsman/carpenter Andy Dwyer and Jenny and Mike Fitzhugh. Mike is an avid fly fisherman and his love of the sport takes him and Jenny to Montana, Wyoming and Colorado; it was in the last that he chanced upon a similar bench at a fly shop. Well familiar with neighbor Andy’s skills because he was one of the builders of their home, Mike and Jenny talked with him about a collaborative project – and Old Hollow Artisans was born.

They plan to make primarily benches of non-toxic treated lumber in various sizes, but have also started to make coffee tables and end tables of rustic wood. Mike and Andy make the tables and benches and Jenny paints the trout, depending on Mike for accuracy of detail. Old Hollow Artisans want to honor the beauty of trout, a goal certainly achieved in their work. Call Mike and Jenny Fitzhugh at 540-987-7260 to order your trout bench or other furniture. Yet another opportunity to shop locally!

Help for gardeners from the masters . . .

“The mission of the Four County Master Gardeners is to educate residents of Culpeper, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock counties about safe, effective and sustainable garden management practices,” and the Rappahannock Master Gardeners will begin on April 21 staffing a help desk at the Rappahannock CFC (the Coop) for gardening questions; they’ll be there every other Saturday morning through June. Becky Harman, assistant manager at the Coop, is a Master Gardener and is available to help answer questions or forward them to other Master Gardeners throughout the week. Stop by with your horticulture questions. (Bring samples if possible) or visit fourcountymastergardener.org.

. . . and the master naturalists

“The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.” Our county and the region benefit from the dedication of Master Naturalists. Did you know that since 2009 a group of 20 master naturalists from the Old Rag chapter have been a monthly, year-round fixture along the lower south fork of the Thornton River, just inside the park boundary at the Buck Hollow Trail Head? They’ve been helping remove some of the worst of the invasive plants, including oriental bittersweet, Japanese honeysuckle, garlic mustard, Tree-of-Heaven, Japanese stiltgrass, Chinese yam and multiflora rose. This “Thornton River priority area” was originally identified by the Virginia Department of Natural Heritage as a “better example of the Northern Blue Ridge Montane Alluvial Forest.”

Did you know that the wild flower boxes at the entrance to SNP are a project of the Master Naturalists? And now, that same group is developing a nature trail and wildflower habitat in Little Washington. For more information, visit oldragmasternaturalists.org.

Sperryville bridge update

Site work has begun at the Sperryville bridge. Assistant superintendent Tommy Quarles, with contractor FCE Inc., said he expects the preparation work will be completed in a few days and the actual construction process should begin. You will start to see orange construction fence and silt fencing put up, trees removed where the new bridge will be placed and fill dirt brought in to create the new embankments. There will be no disruption to the existing footbridge, to the Civil War Trails marker or the benches and tree placed by the Scouts. One lane will be kept open as long as possible and you will have two full weeks notice before the bridge closes (for what is expected to be 60 days).

Mandalele is back!

We have all come to love the music and energy generated by Mandelele, the trio of talented local musicians Lorraine Duisit, Wendi Sirat and Frances Miller. Be sure to come to hear them from 3:30 to 5:30 this Saturday (April 14) at Middle Street Gallery’s Spring Arts Festival in Sperryville. (See The Rapp column on page 1 for more information about the event). Free and open to the public. Middle Street Gallery is located in the Rappahannock Central complex at 3 River Lane, next to River District Arts.