Diario del proyecto Backyard Restoration

08 de julio de 2022

Butterfly Nose




There are no pictures of butterflies on my own nose. It’s not because it never happened but it’s been a great many years since it did. But because it once did, I feel compelled on occasion, to insist that the butterflies sit on my own kids’ noses. In order for butterflies to sit on my own kids’ noses there must be butterflies here to do the sitting.

Where to find butterflies to do the sitting?
I could drive to the countryside where the butterflies live. I’d be less of a man if I did.

How to attract butterflies to do the sitting?
I could drive to the countryside to take what they eat. I’d be less of a man if I did.

How to grow what it is that butterflies eat?
I could drive to the countryside to take some seed. I’d be less of a man if I did.

How to attract birds to deposit the seed?
I could drive to the countryside to take some trees. I’d be less of a man if I did.

How to grow trees without depositing seed?
I could stop mowing the lawn to let the trees grow. I’d be more of a man if I did.

But what would the neighbors think if I stopped mowing the lawn?
I could show them this picture of a butterfly nose.

Ingresado el 08 de julio de 2022 por stockslager stockslager | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de junio de 2022

Manifesto


Honeysuckle

It’s worth clarifying why I want to completely extirpate honeysuckle from my woods. It’s mostly because I’ll be unsuccessful at it. This is an odd thing to say, but it’s very true. Every year I pull around 100 honeysuckle seedlings while pulling garlic mustard. Even though I pull these seedlings, I know I’ll never win. My woods on two sides are completely bordered by honeysuckle and I kinda like it that way. I like it because even if it wasn’t bordered by honeysuckle it wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter because taking an even higher birds-eye view, my township has 18,000 acres where most of the remaining woods have increasingly dense populations of honeysuckle.

You might say my woods is an island in the middle of a honeysuckle sea providing its islanders with time to evolve and learn to live within the sea of honeysuckle. So for the foreseeable future, I’ll continue thinking in terms of removing all of it from my woods. It’ll be obvious when I can stop targeting honeysuckle so aggressively. That time will come when my islanders become more successful at moving off the island.

This is why I like it that my woods are bordered on two sides by honeysuckle. I like it because it allows me to see if any of my islanders are successful at invading the turf on the other side of the line. Can any of my islanders survive in the honeysuckle sea?

The Sea

My woods is a secret garden of comparative ecological purity within a sea of honeysuckle. The sea is a foreboding place with no rules and no order. There is no collection policy or extraction policy in honeysuckle sea. I am reliant on a few brave souls willing to plunge into the sea. Willing to leap head first into a tangle of branches armed only with iphones to document their observations.

Urgent dispatches are received telling of foreign plant communities aggressively expanding within the honeysuckle sea. Other dispatches tell of small colonies of remnant North American plants stretching back to the furthest reaches of the Holocene epoch. Some of them crawling with creatures clinging to these local plants for their own survival.

These remnant North American plant communities have defied the odds. Clinging to life amidst the Columbian Exchange and Great Acceleration. Likely in this same area prior to first European contact and long before that. Encouraging their survival is like reaching back into the Holocene, gathering them up, and handing them off into the Anthropocene.

This, more than anything, is what I’m trying to do on my island. It’s impossible, after working at this goal all these years to know what I’ve achieved. Even when my team finds one of my local islander species inside the honeysuckle sea there is no way of knowing if the parent plants are my islanders. It could be its own remnant population or a new population born of parents from a different ecological island. Perhaps the important thing is that I’ve done nothing to hurt their existence within the sea.

My team never gathers them up. Only documents their existence. It would be cruel to gather these plants that have won this evolutionary lottery. Existing with the correct geography and genetics to resist the endless advance of the sea. Pulling them up and bringing them to my island would deny them the chance to expand in the specific place that has allowed their specific genetics to resist the sea.

My islanders and our collection policy won’t allow it. Instead, we seek out similar communities that cannot survive. Remnant North American plant colonies with local genotypes that are threatened by road expansions or housing developments. Plants that can be gathered up and brought to my island because their specific place will no longer exist for their specific genetics to reside within.

The Island

It’s leafy green and serene on ecological island. Twenty three species of trees are endemic to the island. Three additional tree species have been collected and added in. The trees are of varying sizes and shape and boast a varied assortment of leaves. The understory, while still recovering, hosts colonies of buckeye, sassafras, pawpaw, and northern spicebush. The herbaceous layer holds a dazzling array of 41 endemic species with 30 more North American locals collected and added in.

The islanders benefit from an extraction policy that calls for the ultimate extirpation of honeysuckle, euonymus, celandine, garlic mustard, tree of heaven, and english ivy. Other less troublesome specimens from outside North America are held in check. The island’s simple extraction policy has allowed each of its North American plant colonies to slowly expand for the past 15 years.

Carefully maintained trails direct visitors away from the islanders. Plant stands with potted annuals adorn trails and add splashes of color to the shades of green. Garden walls challenge deer and provide texture and interest. Two small social areas are anchored by a fire-pit and trampoline and allow humans to entertain themselves while enjoying the space. If the island is kept pleasant enough to both humans and islanders, other islands are apt to emerge from the sea.

Ingresado el 18 de junio de 2022 por stockslager stockslager | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

17 de junio de 2022

Colony Expansion


Lately I’ve been leaving some honeysuckle untouched. Not because I want it there, mind you. The 100 year vision for my woods remains honeysuckle free. I’m leaving it because I think it may help some other local colonies expand. There are two honeysuckle plants on either side of the trail in the picture below. They each, at different times of the day (morning and evening) shade a colony of Christmas Fern, Ebony Spleenwort, and Solomon’s Plume. When I started removing honeysuckle, only one scrawny Christmas Fern existed here. I didn't notice any Solomon's Plume or Spleenwort here when I started.

I’m not smart enough to know what increasing sunlight from additional honeysuckle removal would do to this expanding colony. My fear is that removing the honeysuckle too quickly would result in colony contraction rather than colony expansion. At this moment this colony is expanding despite the two honeysuckle plants. So I’m letting this honeysuckle live for now.

I’ve chosen to plant two Northern Spicebush near the two remaining honeysuckle plants. My thinking is that the shade from the Spicebush will make up for the loss of the honeysuckle when I remove them in the future. The only issue is, the Spicebush itself is slow to grow, partially due to the shade of the honeysuckle.

Ingresado el 17 de junio de 2022 por stockslager stockslager | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

28 de mayo de 2022

Seedling and Sapling Survey - Area 2


Results from Area 2. Area 2 is everything up hill from the yellow rope in the picture.

Initial Results:
Honey Locust……………: 2 (Gleditsia triacanthos)
Sugar Maple………………: 1 (Acer sacharum)
Tulip Poplar……………: 3 (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Box Elder……………………: 16 (Acer negundo)
PawPaw……………………………: 16 (Acer negundo)
Ash……………………………………: 60 (Fraxinus)
Black Cherry……………: 4 (Prunus serotina)
Hackberry……………………: 5 (Celtis occidentalis)
Eastern Red Cedar: 1 (Juniperis virginiana)
Hickory…………………………: 2 (Carya)
Elm……………………………………: 1 (Ulmus)
Callery Pear……………: 2 (Pyrus calleryana)

Total………………………………: 113

** Where possible, trees were identified to the species level. In some cases (ash, hickory, elm) volunteers were only capable of identification down to the genus.

The most prolific tree in this survey area was the Ash (with 60 occurrences). I'm not sure what to think about this. These appeared to be white ash and they'll all likely succumb to the emerald ash borer. I'm going to let them go for now but if they get big enough to cause problems when they die and fall, I'll have to think more carefully about it. The total of 113 seedlings and saplings brings the running total to 235. Below is a snapshot of Area 2 (everything to the right of the yellow rope)...



Ingresado el 28 de mayo de 2022 por stockslager stockslager | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

28 de abril de 2022

Seedling and Sapling Survey


The 2022 tree survey of the first small area is now complete. Each tree that germinated following honeysuckle removal has been tallied.

Initial Results:
Black Locust……………: 4 (Robinia pseudoacia)
Sugar Maple………………: 5 (Acer sacharum)
Tulip Poplar……………: 3 (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Box Elder……………………: 42 (Acer negundo)
Ash……………………………………: 12 (Fraxinus)
Black Cherry……………: 29 (Prunus serotina)
Hackberry……………………: 4 (Celtis occidentalis)
Eastern Redbud………: 1 (Cercis canadensis)
Eastern Red Cedar: 1 (Juniperis virginiana)
Hickory…………………………: 1 (Carya)
Elm……………………………………: 7 (Ulmus)
Callery Pear……………: 13 (Pyrus calleryana)

Total………………………………: 122

** Where possible, trees were identified to the species level. In some cases (ash, hickory, elm) volunteers were only capable of identification down to the genus.

Below is a snapshot of the small area from the initial survey. The density of seedlings and saplings identified by volunteers is compelling. This density of trees will not be sustainable over the long term. Each seedling will compete against neighboring seedlings for access to sunlight and resources. Honeysuckle, garlic mustard and other aggressive plants with little ecological value will continue to be controlled for the duration of the open ended observational study.

The most prolific tree, the box elder (with 42 occurrences), supports 285 species of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) during their caterpillar stage. The total of 122 trees surprised and delighted volunteers. Freeze pops were enjoyed by all.



Ingresado el 28 de abril de 2022 por stockslager stockslager | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

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