May 7, 2014

Space Invaders

We've begun the epic chore of eliminating the invasive bush honeysuckle on our property. The Hubs picked a spot and cleared a small section, hacking down about a dozen bushes. One of the challenging things about eradicating this honeysuckle is that it grows back bushier and denser after being cleared to the ground. The common practice is to brush the stumps with some kind of herbicide, not something I am wild about doing. Primarily, I wish to avoid adding toxic chemicals to our environment. But finances also play a role here. We'd wind up spending thousands on the proper chemicals to kill the amount of honeysuckle we have. I found an alternative to herbicide, a practice we will test to see if it is effective. Wrap the honeysuckle stumps in 6 mil black landscaping plastic, tie securely, and stake the plastic to the ground. This prevents the new growth from the stumps from receiving sunlight. After a year or two, the stump will die. Yes, plastic is no environmental friend, but I look at it this way. It's like voting for elected officials. Often the only choice is the lesser of two evils. 

Clearing that one small section revealed a spindly cherry tree and two mystery trees, pictured below. Any idea what these are? There's no greenery except at the the very tips of branches. Three stages of budding are pictured. What I find fascinating are the curved tendrils of twigs surrounding each bud. They remind me of basket hilted swords (like this one in the Glasgow Museums collection).
In addition to the bush honeysuckle, we have another invader; the dreaded garlic mustard.
If you have these plants, pull them out and isolate them. If allowed to go to seed, the pods burst open and broadcast widely hundreds of seeds per plant. The seeds remain viable for up to 9 years and the plants can produce seeds after being pulled. According to Northwest Ohio Nature, garlic mustard is "enemy number one to a natural habitat." Like other invasives, garlic mustard crowds out native plant species; impacts wildlife that rely on native plants for food, shelter, and breeding habitat; and reduces biodiversity by creating a monoculture. (Invasive plant definition from Ohio Department of Natural Resources.)

It's not all doom and gloom in our yard. We do have a large number of native wildflowers that I am learning to identify. Granted, it's easier to name them when they are in bloom, but I would like to learn what they look like throughout their life cycles.
This plant has the square shaped stems characteristic of the mint family. The hairy leaves emit a vaguely  minty aroma when crushed. It is wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) also known as bee balm.
These two are growing in our gardens. I'm stumped. The four-petaled bloom has a waxy appearance. The two-toned leaves with small bell-shaped flowers are a ground cover.
This plant is growing in small clusters at the edge of the grass. There's a bit of purple showing in the bud. 
I don't know what either of these are, but I like the texture of the leaves.
Wild strawberries?

No comments:

Post a Comment