Are We Criticizing your Lily of the Valley?

For Lamp Post “Easy Being Green” August 7, 2014

by Barbara Walvoord

Nope, we’re not.
The Land Conservation SubCommittee is not interested in criticizing anyone for their choice of plants in their garden. You don’t need to apologize or feel embarrassed for anything you grow. We’re focused on the woods, fields, streams, and wetlands. We’ll help you find resources if you want to plant native plants, but we’re not sitting in judgment.

Our request is that when you discard plants or parts of plants from your garden, don’t put them in the woods or fields, because they may spread from there and become invasive.

lily of valley 8 14-001

Here’s a personal story of what can happen. When Sharon and I moved into our home in Williamstown, MA, we had a beautiful two-acre woods with native Jack-in-the-pulpit, Star flower, Baneberry, and other plants that support native insects and all the critters that depend on insects.

But someone had obviously dumped some clippings of vinca and pachysandra, both alien invasives, into the woods, and these were taking over, forming an increasingly large mass of roots and vines in which nothing else could grow. These plants were part of the alarming spread of alien plants that have escaped cultivation and are crowding out natives throughout the country, swallowing an area the size of Delaware every year and costing billions of dollars to fight. (Douglas Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home).

Sharon and I were just learning about invasives then, and very naive. We sprayed the invasives; everything around them died, but the invasives came back–now stronger because they had no competition. We smothered them under old rugs; they climbed out from the edges of the rug. We dug them up; they grew back more vigorously. Once established, alien invasives are very hard to get rid of. Before we left that property five years later, we had vanquished the vinca by smothering and pulling, but in our dreams, sometimes, we still see those little green creepers pushing their grasping fingers up out of the ground, strangling the Jack-in-the-Pulpit, climbing the trees, racing over the ground, burying the yard, bringing down the lamp post, covering the garage, the house…..

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