by Pam Willison, Owen Sowerwine Chairperson
When we do “invasives” work in the Owen Sowerwine area, our goal is to diminish the impact these non-native plants and shrubs have on the native plants and shrubs, and thereby improve the food sources and habitat for the birds and critters who live there. It’s also important to prevent them from spreading, including to neighboring property or downstream. Invasive species of weeds and shrubs have many clever ways to dominate the landscape and outcompete or eliminate the native species, including making the soil acidic or toxic, growing faster and taller to get all the sunshine, taking up more water and nutrients, and producing more seeds that spread very efficiently.
People might wonder why we are cutting the February daphne, which is a lovely purple, with a sweet smell, and a surprising splash of color in early spring. February daphne is a non-native species of landscaping shrub which has escaped and taken up residence in Owen Sowerwine. Similarly, we remove Japanese barberry, Common buckthorn, and Highbush cranberry shrubs.
During 2022, our volunteers spent 89 hours working to get rid of non-native plants and weeds, and 184 hours to expel non-native shrubs. Our approach is to use significantly more volunteers and far less chemical application. And, it’s working! There is a noticeable decline in the presence of houndstongue, a patch of cheatgrass has been totally removed, a small outbreak of Spotted knapweed is now gone, and the tall thistle at the Greenridge entrance has been reduced by nearly 75 percent. In addition, another large section of dense Common buckthorn has been cleared to allow the native shrubs to receive more sunlight, moisture, and nutrients. However, we can’t relent – the work starts again in March.
Thanks to everyone who volunteered: Will, Denny, MaryJo, Dan, Pat, Rod, Kay M., Gael, Keith, Pam, Cory, Tom, Cindy, Jake, Kristen, Bridger, Shannon, Karen, Ben, Bruce, Chris, Lynda, Sally, Michele, Kay, Ronda, Darcy, Rob, Keanu, Andrea, and Devin. Much of this work is hard and challenging, so we are grateful we have so many volunteers who help.