Category Archives: Native plants

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

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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

Late Blooming Flower Seeks Strong, Hungry Bumblebee

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post Oct. 14-20, 2017

On Oct. 6, believe it or not, I found these native closed  bottle gentians (Gentiana andrewsii) blooming along the eastern edge of the wide woods meadow on the east campus.  They look like buds, but they are in full flower; they won’t open more than this.

Gentians are pollinated almost exclusively by bumblebees, because those are the only pollinators strong enough to pry open the petals and get inside for the nectar.  Our meadows now are full of bumblebees, busy getting ready for winter.  “Aha!  A beautiful blue flower.  Hmm.  It’s petals are closed.  Well, there aren’t very many Continue reading Late Blooming Flower Seeks Strong, Hungry Bumblebee

Berries at Lathrop: Good and Bad

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in Lathrop Lamp Post Oct. 7 – 13, 2017

Imagine you’re a bluebird, say, or a chickadee. You’ve lived happily at Lathrop all summer long, eating lots of insects and feeding them to your nestlings.

Unfortunately, with cold weather, insects are getting scarcer.  But nature has provided lots of nutritious berries on shrubs and trees, hanging conveniently above the snow cover, out of the reach of bobcats and housecats.

As a bird, at Lathrop you’ll find good berries and bad berries.  The good berries hang on native plants.  You’ve co-evolved with these Continue reading Berries at Lathrop: Good and Bad

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

Indian Pipes: Visible Signs of Invisible Connections

by Barbara Walvoord

Originally published in Lathrop Lamp Post Sept. 9-15, 2017

Indian pipes (sometimes called ghost plants) bloom on both campuses–on the north campus along the path in the forest, and on the east campus not only in the forest but also along Bassett Brook Drive, across from the Inn, under a group of large white pine trees.  You can see them from the sidewalk.

Indian pipe is white, so people sometimes think it’s a fungus, but it’s actually a plant related to the blueberry family.  Unlike most plants, Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora)  don’t use sunlight to produce their own chlorophyll–hence they’re not green,  and they can grow in a sunless forest understory.

But they still need the sugar from chlorophyll.  They get that sugar from the trees under which they grow.  The relationship is a Continue reading Indian Pipes: Visible Signs of Invisible Connections

Native Plant Landscaping at Lathrop

by Barbara Walvoord

Originally published in Lathrop Lamp Post Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2017

Soon, plants will be removed from a small area near the Inn, adjacent to Disabled Parking.  Then, on September 18, native plants will be installed.  At 10:30 a.m., residents of both campuses are invited to that area for refreshments, a short ceremony, and an explanation by our landscape designer, Owen Wormser.  Residents may dig in some native plant plugs. Professional staff will do the rest.

The East Campus Residents’ Association, the Land Conservation Committee, and Lathrop are contributing to the project.

Only the two red pines, native to our area, will stay.  It will be painful to see healthy shrubs removed, but the new native plants will much better support our  birds and butterflies, whose populations are in Continue reading Native Plant Landscaping at Lathrop