Tag Archives: Honeysuckle

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

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The Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening

by Barbara Walvoord

It takes 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars to raise one nest full of chickadees. Almost all caterpillars eat only native plants, not aliens.*

Plants don’t want to be eaten, so they evolve to make themselves poisonous, distasteful, or inaccessible to insect mouthparts. But, aha! each native insect has co-evolved to overcome the defenses of one or several native plants. Thus the monarch butterfly lays eggs only on milkweed–the only thing its caterpillars can eat. Facing a 90% decline in monarchs due in part of disappearance of milkweed, the National Wildlife Federation and others are mounting a national effort to increase milkweed plantings.

Butterflies, bees, and birds–that’s why we need native plants on Lathrop land, including our gardens. Natives can be as beautiful, orderly, and well-designed as aliens.**

Stores may advertise “native” plants, but beware: natives from the Midwest may not be as good for our insects as Continue reading The Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening

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

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