Lathrop Volunteers and Professionals Attack Invasives

by Barbara Walvoord

If you East campus folks heard chain saws last week out in the woods, that was our crew of workers from Polatin Ecological Services, removing invasive shrubs from several high-priority areas of our land. This work is part of a 3-year plan funded by a grant from the Kendal Charitable Fund and by individual resident donations. North campus, you are part of the plan, so this winter or next spring, you’ll hear the chain saws, too.

AND–if you heard the snick of hand loppers and the rasp of hand-held tree saws, along with some grunts, creaking knees, and shouts of triumph, that was our intrepid group of 7 east campus residents who gathered on Thursday, Nov. 20, to remove invasive honeysuckle, buckthorn, and vines from the woods along Bassett Brook Road.

The volunteers cleared about 52 invasives from the edge of the woods, starting at the Inn, and going all the way to the corner of Bassett Brook and Mulberry. We let the Polatin crew, with their chain saws and protective clothing, go after the thickets of sharp-thorned multiflora rose along Mulberry Lane.

invasives Chris Nov 14 018

The very good news is that, while the edges of this woodland were invaded, the middle is quite pristine, and we stopped the invasives from moving farther in.

When native shrubs replace those invasives, that area of our land will support many more insects, birds, and other wildlife. It will Continue reading Lathrop Volunteers and Professionals Attack Invasives

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Progress Against Invasive Plants

-Barbara Walvoord

Yikes! This fall, you can clearly see how Lathrop’s woods are being invaded by alien shrubs and vines: the bright red of burning bush, the yellow-green of bush honeysuckle, the prickly multiflora rose and barberry, the orange berries of Oriental bittersweet vine. These plants still have leaves in fall when natives have gone dormant. They have left behind the competitors and enemies that control them in their native lands, so they can take over a woods, creating an impenetrable mass that supports many fewer insects, birds, and other wildlife than native plants.

We’re making progress against these invasives! The Land Conservation Subcommittee, working with Lathrop management, has a plan, a set of priorities, some money, and a contractor. Here is what is happening now: Continue reading Progress Against Invasive Plants

Old Oak Tree Mystery Solved

-Barbara Walvoord

Last week, when I wrote about the old oak tree on the east campus across the field from the vegetable garden, several people asked me if something lived in the tree’s large hole, which quite obviously leads to a hollow in the trunk. I said, “I don’t know.”

Well, Eleanor Johnson’s daughter, who was visiting on Saturday, solved the mystery for us–a porcupine was sitting with its backside half out of the hole, enjoying the sun. When she approached, the porcupine scrambled back into the hole, leaving a few quills behind. Continue reading Old Oak Tree Mystery Solved

Walk to Lathrop’s Old Oak Tree

-Barbara Walvoord

On the east campus, if you stand on the lawn at the end of Cranberry Lane and look across the field obliquely to the left, you will see a magnificent oak tree towering above all the other trees, resplendent in its rust-red leaves, which postpone falling until most other trees are bare.

You can walk to it, thanks to a mowed path arranged by Facilities Director Mike Strycharz. The path (level terrain, but rough underfoot) goes from the far end of the vegetable garden around the outside of the shrubby field. Just about opposite the garden, the path turns right, and you’ll come to the oak tree.

Our tree is a Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra), native to the eastern U.S. and Canada, known for its high-quality timber and its Continue reading Walk to Lathrop’s Old Oak Tree