Category Archives: invasives

Giving Thanks at Lathrop

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post Nov. 24 – Dec. 1, 2017

At Thanksgiving feasts, family members sometimes take turns saying what they’re thankful for.  So I asked our Lathrop family of creatures:

A chickadee:  Thanks for putting in native plants near the Inn and in some cottage gardens.   I need about 6,000 insects, mostly caterpillars, to raise my brood next spring. I expect you’ve read the scientific findings that I know from experience: the native plants in your gardens will provide many more caterpillars than the old alien plants did.

A hawk:  Thanks for not mowing our Lathrop meadows until late autumn.  When you used to mow in mid-summer, you destroyed the cover for mice, voles, and other creatures that I needed to build up Continue reading Giving Thanks at Lathrop


Reports from the Front Lines

by Barbara Walvoord

First printed in Lathrop Lamp Post Nov. 11-17, 2017

This photo was taken on the east campus along Bassett Brook Road at the corner of Huckleberry Lane–a visible “front line” on our property.

Three years ago, on this corner, there was a dense hedge of burning bush (Euonymus alatus), so dangerously invasive it is now illegal to propagate or sell in Massachusetts.  At Lathrop, birds are carrying it into our woods, where it is crowding out native plants without providing as richly for our wildlife as native plants do, and costing Continue reading Reports from the Front Lines

Successful “Free Fifty” Celebration

by Barbara Walvoord

First appeared in Lathrop Lamp Post Oct. 21-27, 2017

More than 80 residents, Valley conservationists, and members of the public gathered on Oct. 21 to celebrate Lathrop’s removal of invasive plants from the “Free Fifty” acres of forest on both campuses–a unique accomplishment that science suggests will increase the wildlife on our land.  A program in the Inn was followed by guided walks on both campuses. The audience included many of those who helped us: consultants from 7 prominent conservation organizations, 28 resident volunteers who removed invasives, scores of residents who donated funds, and  3 granting agencies (Kendal Charitable Funds, Community Foundation of Western Mass., and the Northampton Community Preservation Committee).

Guided walk participants expressed their delight in walking through woods that are not choked with invasive plants, and said over and over how amazed they are at our accomplishment.  Lathrop is a visible participant in the Valley community of those who care about nature, conservation, and wildlife. A collage of photos is at Free 50 collage LampPostFree50 em.  Copies of the handout materials are at

Roses Out, Roses In

By Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post for Sept. 16-22, 2017

In the past three years, we’ve removed literally thousands of invasive multiflora roses from our land–roses that crowd out native plants but fail to support wildlife as fully as our native plants do.

Join us October 21 at 1 p.m. in the Inn to celebrate the demise of these roses and other invasive plants on our “Free Fifty” acres of land, on both campuses.  The program is also open to the public.  Pre-registration is required  because space is limited.  Residents will receive invitations in their mailboxes soon.

We’re also adding roses–native ones in the native plant landscaping area near the Inn.  On Sept. 18, at 10:30, residents may gather there for a short celebration, including an explanation by our landscape Continue reading Roses Out, Roses In

What We’ve Achieved

by Barbara Walvoord

(Originally printed in Lathrop Lamp Post, June 22, 2017)

Lathrop’s “Free Fifty” is 50 acres of forest from which, in the past 3 years, we’ve been removing invasive plants in order to increase native plants and the wildlife that depends on them.

Our achievement is visible as we compare two sections of our forest–one where we have removed invasives with one area where we have not (Photos June 19, 2017).

The contrast is stunning.  On the north side of the Farmer’s Field,  where we have not worked,  huge invasive multiflora rose bushes, now in bloom,  “exclude most native shrubs and herbs…and may be detrimental to nesting of native birds”  In the background,invasive Oriental  bittersweet vines are strangling the trees.


On the south side where we’ve worked for three years to remove invasives, you’ll see piles of dead multiflora rose and bittersweet vines. Among them, native plants are arising, like the native gray dogwood pictured above.  It delights us with its lacy white blossoms, and it hosts the larvae of 115 species of native butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera).  These caterpillars are a large part of the diet of many baby birds. (  Continue reading What We’ve Achieved

The View from the Porch

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post August 18, 2016

The Land Conservation Committee, on the ad-vice of consultants, is removing invasive plants from 50 acres of Lathrop land that are most intact, most connected, least invaded, and farthest from mowers and roads that will bring in more invasives.

However, behind some cottages are smaller forested areas, more heavily invaded, more disconnected, and more open to human activity. These areas offer corridors and habitats valuable to wildlife, yet the land committee does not have the resources to attack them.

But residents have to look at them. I know 11 residents on both campuses who have gotten tired of sitting on their patios or porches and looking at invasive vines choking trees, invasive garlic mustard Continue reading The View from the Porch

How to Restore Native Plants to a Meadow

by Barbara Walvoord

Our  meadows at Lathrop are a mixture of native plants and alien plants. Scientific study shows that the more native plants we have, the more bees, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife our meadows can support.

Experts have a number of methods to reduce alien plants and increase natives.  We are not destroying everything with Roundup, burning the meadow, or tilling it repeatedly over an entire season.  Instead, we’ve chosen overseeding, plugging, and smothering.

Overseeding: In the swale behind Huckleberry Lane, one snowy day last winter, we spread native seeds right over the existing plants, relying on the snow to work them down into the soil.  In this method, Continue reading How to Restore Native Plants to a Meadow