Packing Material Gone Rogue

By Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post of Sept. 4-11, 2018

Having arrived in the U.S. as packing material for porcelain, Japanese stilt grass now invades river banks and forests, smothering native plants, including tree seedlings; secreting chemicals toxic to other plants; and significantly reducing wild life, except a type of invasive rat, which loves it.

We’re Trying to Prevent This: Japanese stilt grass has taken over this forest (not ours), smothering natives and reducing wild life.

Seeds arrive in streams and animal hooves, and are viable in the ground for 5 years.   Japanese stilt grass has newly come to Lathrop’s campuses, but WE’RE ON IT!

It’s an annual, with shallow roots.  Small invasions, like the north campus, can be pulled by hand in late summer, before the plants set Continue reading Packing Material Gone Rogue


Sneaking in the Woods

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post of Aug. 25-Sept. 3, 2018

By Barbara Walvoord

Last week I wrote about our wonderful success in removing invasive plants from our north campus woods.  More broadly, we’ve removed invasives from fifty acres of our forests on both campuses.

The bad news: Alien invasive ground covers like vinca (also called periwinkle or myrtle), pachysandra, English ivy, ajuga, and snow-on-the-mountain are sneaking into the woods from surrounding gardens or arriving when residents throw plant parts into the woods.  Continue reading Sneaking in the Woods

The House that Jack Built

By Barbara Walvoord

Most living things in our woods have either green leaves or mouths.  The ones with green leaves—the trees, shrubs, and wildflowers—practice photosynthesis–using sunlight to make food out of water and carbon dioxide.

The ones with mouths are creatures like insects and rabbits who eat the plants that have made food out of water and carbon dioxide, and then creatures like the bobcat, coyote, and hawk, who eat the creatures that have eaten the food that the plants have made.  This is the house that Jack built, otherwise called a food web. Continue reading The House that Jack Built

Our Lathrop Nursery

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post of August 18-24, 2018

Resident Alice Richardson clipped branches from a number of the native plants in the garden near Inn, and laid them out on a table as illustrations for the residents who would attend her talk last Tuesday.

At the presentation, a resident picked up a swamp milkweed branch from the table, and surprise—unbeknownst to Alice, there was a monarch butterfly chrysalis on it.

While Alice was talking, a monarch butterfly was flitting around the garden’s two species of milkweed—the only plant the monarch larvae can eat.  We residents remember when monarchs were Continue reading Our Lathrop Nursery

Pollinators Galore! The Native Plant Landscaped Area near the Inn

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post,  Aug. 18-24, 2018

On August 14, twenty residents attended Alice Richardson’s talk about the native plant landscaped area near the Inn, and the birds and pollinators it supports.  Installed last fall in an area with a large bare spot and several invasive shrubs, the garden has gone from puny plugs to glorious flower, abuzz with pollinators.  We asked designer Owen Wormser, of Abound Design, to stay between a very formal look (which native plants can do), and a meadow, so Owen placed shrubs for anchors, interspersed with wildflowers in drifts, taller in back and shorter in front, all bordered with native grasses and sedges. The garden was installed by residents with help from Jeff Allen, financial support from the Residents’ Association and the Land Conservation Committee, and help from Facilities. Continue reading Pollinators Galore! The Native Plant Landscaped Area near the Inn

Caterpillars on my Dill!

By Barbara Walvoord, Aug. 4-17, 2018

Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post, Aug. 4-17, 2018

Cute little caterpillars have appeared on Daphne Stevens’ dill plants on the north campus.  Her neighbor Carol Neubert sent me a photo, asking, “What are they?”

They’re Eastern black swallowtails (Papilio polyxenes).  Let’s call this one “Pap.” Continue reading Caterpillars on my Dill!

A Butterfly Reveals All

By Barbara Walvoord

Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post for July 28-Aug. 3, 2018

When you humans see us butterflies flitting from flower to flower, you may think we’re playful and carefree.  But actually we’re frantic.  As a butterfly, there’s a lot to do before you die, and for most of us, 2-3 weeks is it.

First, ya gotta eat.  Flowers are your only food.  And not all flowers.  Those tubular flowers?—you have to be one of the species of butterfly with a long tongue.  And some of us males, like the tiger Continue reading A Butterfly Reveals All

Nurturing Lathrop’s native plants and wildlife.