I wrote previously about our town's decision to preserve a small patch of park situated across the street from my house. Over the years, this land had been used to route utility lines, served as a surreptitious dumping ground for builders' debris, and provided a measure of privacy for teenage drinkers. The natural topography, an elongated hollow, is sprinkled with boulders.
Our group of neighbors, in thinking about developing a plan for the stewardship of this two-acre parcel, realized that we needed to know more about exactly what it contains. So this past rainy Saturday, we met with some members of our town's shade tree commission to walk the woods.
Our first discoveries were masses of Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) and oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), mixed in with some heathy servings of poison ivy. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to eradicate Japanese knotweed, and I saw some frighteningly huge clumps of the dastardly stuff. The experts' advice was to try to contain it to the lower, damper area. Pull, pull, and then pull some more. Pull early--before the flowers are set--and pull often.
Because this parcel lies in a residential area, a number of garden plants have been transferred by birds and animals spreading seeds: a solitary and singularly out of place barberry (Berberis sp.), for example, and a little line of lilies of the valley (Convallaria majalis).
Several groupings of crabapples (Malus sp.) reminded me of the very old tree that once grew in our backyard. Could these be its descendants? Or perhaps it's the native species? I just learned that these crabapples were planted by our local garden club some forty years ago--and to think that they are still growing! 4/12/2012
This wash of blue and white squills (Scilla sibirica) was one of several well-established colonies. They have clearly been flourishing here for decades.
We also encountered some native plants, like these Eastern skunk cabbages (Symplocarpus foetidus), battling for turf with Japanese knotweed.
Perhaps the hardiest natives were this mallard couple, who paddled their way around plastic bottles, crumpled bags, and other trash to loudly feast on duckweed. Hopefully, they are a nesting pair.
Our next step is an organized clean-up of plant invasives, building debris, and garbage, scheduled for later this month. No one ever said reclamation would be easy!