Category Archives: invasives

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. http://nyis.info/invasive_species/japanese-stiltgrass/

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

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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

Lathrop’s Invisible Project

By Barbara Walvoord

On July 9, nine residents trekked through fields and woods to the far north section of the east campus along Bassett Brook. This land is largely invisible to most residents.  It lies beyond our trails and beyond the “Free Fifty” acres of forest from which we’ve removed invasives in the past.

Jeff Allen leads residents to see where he has been removing invasives

It’s still a basically healthy forest, quiet and beautiful, with maples and pines on rolling slopes along the multi-channeled Bassett Brook and its wetland.  But scientific research shows that the increasing presence of invasive plants like multiflora rose, shrub honeysuckle, and oriental bittersweet could significantly reduce the wildlife our land can support (http://www.inwoodlands.org/what-do-our-private-invasive/).

So we’ve begun a project to remove invasives, following science-based guidelines recommended by experts.  Resident volunteers Continue reading Lathrop’s Invisible Project

What’s Wrong with this Picture?

by Barbara Walvoord

Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post, May 12-18, 2018

Walking along Mulberry Lane on the east campus this week, the unexpected patch of green (right side of the photo) might warm our hearts, when other shrubs are still brown, or just beginning to leaf out (left side of the photo).  In a few weeks, the green shrubs on the right will burst into fragrant white blooms.  Later, the red berries will attract many birds.

But in fact, the thicket of green shrubs on the right is very wrong.   The shrubs are invasive honeysuckle from  Asia—so invasive that it is now illegal to import, propagate, or sell them in Massachusetts.  The Indiana DNR reports, “Asian bush honeysuckles grow so densely they shade out everything on the forest floor, often leaving nothing but bare soil. This means a great reduction in the food and cover available for birds and other animals. Serious infestations can inhibit tree regeneration, essentially stopping forest succession. Higher rates of nest predation have been found in Amur honeysuckle than Continue reading What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Lathrop’s Landscaping and Gardens: What’s Our Goal?

By Barbara Walvoord

Originally printed in the Lathrop Lamp Post for March 10-16, 2018.

Why are we at Lathrop considering planting native plants rather than alien plants in our landscapes and gardens?  Our goal is NOT to restore some imaginary pristine past.  The futility of such a goal is emphasized in journalist Emma Marris’ The Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World (2011).

Instead, Marris suggests, we need to save nature by juggling seven possible goals: (1) protect the rights of other species; (2) protect Continue reading Lathrop’s Landscaping and Gardens: What’s Our Goal?

Wanted: Useful Plants for Lathrop Landscaping

Wanted: Useful Plants for Lathrop Landscaping

By Barbara Walvoord

At Lathrop, new plants are always being installed and old plants replaced. Imagine that you are interviewing new plant candidates for your garden or other landscaped areas around you.

Today’s candidates include two alien plants that evolved in Asia but are currently found on both campuses (burning bush [Euonymus alata] and daylily (Hemerocallis ‘stella d’oro’] and two native plants that evolved in New England and are currently planted by a few residents in their cottage gardens (native highbush blueberry [Vaccinium corymbusum] and native butterfly weed [Asclepius tuberosa], a member of the milkweed family).

Interviewer:  Do you look beautiful, and can you be kept looking neat?   All plants:  YES!

Interviewer: Do you need lots of water, herbicides, and fertilizer?  All plants:  Nope, not a lot.

Interviewer: Birds, bees, and butterflies are in decline.  How can you help them? Continue reading Wanted: Useful Plants for Lathrop Landscaping

Taxes

by Barbara Walvoord

Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post, Dec. 21, 2018.

The new Republican tax bill is all over the news lately, but we’re not the first people who’ve had to think hard about taxes at this holiday season.  Hannukah celebrates the rededication of the temple in the year 165 BCE, after the Jews, oppressed by cruel taxes and other wrongs, had risen up and defeated their Greek occupiers.  In the Christian story, the reason Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem in the first place was because Rome had decreed that  “all the world should be taxed,” and Jews must travel to the town of their family’s origin to pay up.  A carpenter and his 9-month pregnant wife had to walk or ride a donkey to a hugely overcrowded town with not enough hotels.  American colonists were so mad about British taxes on tea that on December 16, 1773, they dumped their own precious tea into the Boston harbor. Continue reading Taxes