Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘controlling invasives

Compare Contrasts

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I have mixed feelings about the comparison of our woods to our neighbor’s when it comes to the obviousness of difference in controlling the invasive Common Buckthorn. Do you notice the contrast in the images below?

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That line of green leaves on the low trees visible in the images on the right is increasingly dominating the understory beyond our fencelines.

It is pleasing to be able to clearly see the progress I have achieved in my vigilance to remove the buckthorn every year. At the same time, it is unsettling to watch the progress of the invasion playing out on the land surrounding ours.

Meanwhile, remember how happy I was to boast of stocking up on woodchips?

Cyndie has already succeeded in decimating the store of chips, distributing them far and wide for mulch around small trees and plants in the labyrinth and beyond.

We are on the brink of no longer being able to see most of the downed branches available for chipping with the arrival of snow season.

Yesterday, the driveway was still too warm to be covered by the first measurable amount to fall, but the leaves weren’t.

Our landscape turned white overnight last night. Animal tracks are clearly revealed this morning. I didn’t go out yet, but Cyndie said there were no bear footprints on the trails she and Delilah walked. Plenty of deer and an occasional bunny rabbit, though.

I’m going to be comparing our new surroundings today to the contrasting snowless world I walked less than 24 hours ago in my wanderings around the grounds.

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Written by johnwhays

November 14, 2021 at 10:00 am

Pernicious Invasive

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It never stops. The unending intrusion of Common Buckthorn spreading anywhere that birds perch requires equally persistent vigilance to thwart. While I have given our largest segment of woods the most consistent annual attention, the small grove near the road dominated by poplar trees seems to have slipped my notice last year.

There were a couple of inch-plus diameter trunks that I had cut in the past but forgot to watch the next year. They had sprouted twice the new growth since I’d made that cut. Oops.

When I come upon tree-sized specimens, I often cut the trunk off a few feet above ground to leave the stump visible. The next season, many new sprouts will erupt from around the cut and my plan is to simply break those off enough times the root system finally stops trying and dies. Sometimes I forget to follow up.

In addition to the big ones, there were a frustrating number of little sprouts scattered all throughout the small segment of trees.

Luckily, those little ones are easy to pull out, roots and all, by hand. I just need to spot them and navigate the tangle of undergrowth to reach each one. And even when you think you’ve pulled the last, there’s always one more that I somehow missed.

At least I’ve given this challenge enough attention that it’s manageable at this point and the progress is noticeable. The surrounding woods of my neighbor’s property are filled with many tree-sized sections that haven’t been tended to in all the years we’ve lived here.

The difference is obvious and significant.

Speaking of that property to our north that was supposedly auctioned off on the courthouse steps in July, another neighbor recently mentioned a possibility that the sale never went through for some undetermined reason. Saturday afternoon the guy was mowing the weeds on the field that had been left fallow all summer, supporting the likely assumption of continued ownership.

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.

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Written by johnwhays

November 8, 2021 at 7:00 am

Buckthorn Season

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In addition to looking for antlered bucks in the woods this time of year, I am also hunting for buckthorn. Common buckthorn is an invasive tree that I strive to control on our property. In the fall, buckthorn holds its deep green leaves longer than most other growth in our forests, making it easier to spot.

It’s not foolproof though, because I always seem to find a large enough tree that reveals I must have missed it the year before. I think the main reason for this is buckthorn is not the only growth that still has leaves after the majority of the forest turns brown and barren. There is at least one other bush that confuses my hunt.

The main difference I have found is the relative color of green, as can be seen in the picture I took yesterday while Delilah and I were forging our way off-trail to dispatch every invasive we could find. The batch of leaves on the left are a buckthorn I just cut down that must have been missed the year before. The noticeably lighter green leaves on the right are the primary bush that complicates my identifying the unwelcome buckthorn.

When I look into the trees on my neighbor’s unmanaged land, there is an obvious spread of green growth, but ours holds just a fraction of that, only a few of which are the deep green buckthorn.

With this year’s quick jump to Arctic cold and several doses of early snow, the buckthorn hunting season has been shortened. Luckily, I had already done a first-pass through to address the sprouts of growth that are small enough to easily pull by hand before the ground started to freeze.

At that time, I didn’t have my hand saw with me, so I took a mental note of the larger trees I wanted to come back to cut down. When I set out to do that yesterday, I almost failed to find that tree shown in this picture. I needed to get to a place where just the right angle of view made it stand out.

Delilah loves that we need to roam into the middle of the areas we rarely visit, as she is able to find all sorts of disgusting things left behind by the wild forest animals that romp around on our land.

I’m satisfied with the progress this year and ready to consider the hunt complete. There was less growth than previous years, so our efforts are definitely paying off. The view into the adjacent property confirms it.

Our woods look distinctly more managed and that makes trekking through them for year-round forest bathing that much more rewarding.

Huzzah!

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