Moss landscapes offer a magical appeal with verdant expanses that seem to encapsulate our spirits with a sense of serenity. Yet, the environmental advantages of eco-friendly mosses add another element of magic through the creation of outdoor living spaces that complement natural ecosystems. As Planet Earth’s oldest living land plants (450 million years old), bryophytes – mosses and their cousins, liverworts and hornworts – are native to all parts of the world. Continue reading →
Habitat fragmentation is a serious problem across the country and a significant contributor to the loss of biodiversity worldwide. Here in Vermont, development in the Burlington area continues to fragment the habitat blocks that remain. Preserving as much forest and open land as possible is of course the first line of defense, but in many situations the damage has already been done and then the goal becomes finding ways to reconnect the fragments. Continue reading →
Our spring wildflowers, many of them ephemerals that grace our woodlands for only a brief period each year, are intricately tied to other organisms in the environment. Their flowering time evolved over millennia in woodlands that once cloaked most of the eastern part of the country. During colonial times the forests were cleared for building and heating materials, and the land converted to farmland. When greener pastures and richer soils were discovered in the Midwest, many early settlers moved west allowing much of the eastern farmland to slowly regenerate to forest. It is in these forests and woodlands that our spring wildflowers are found. Continue reading →
I often see new landscapes that look great immediately after installation, and continue to thrive for five to ten years. Beyond those five to ten years, I find that a majority of landscapes, especially the plantings, look tired, thin, and lacking in vitality. When I first started working in the industry during the early 1990s, common practices included either installing a landscape and then planning on ‘re-installing’ the planting areas after a period of time, or selling intensive maintenance plans with the installation. A majority of designs often lacked forethought as to how the project would look and perform beyond five to ten years, or how the areas would look if not intensively managed. Continue reading →
This article first appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of Meristems, the newsletter of Polly Hill Arboretum.
There are many good reasons for growing native plants: Native plants are adapted to local growing conditions; they promote biodiversity and support local wildlife; and, in general, they need less maintenance. Besides, native plants are “Vineyard vernacular”: they just look right in our gardens and landscapes. Continue reading →
Thanks to the pioneering work of E.O. Wilson, Doug Tallamy, Jonathan Foley, Marla Spivak and many others, the public has begun to accept the need for native plants in the landscape in order to help increase biodiversity and protect pollinators. It turns out that people really do like nature and are willing to change their habitats if the payoff is more birds, bees, butterflies, and wildlife in general. As ecological landscape designers and installers, we are lucky to be on the front lines and in positions that would allow us to help our clients restore habitats and reduce the spread of invasive species on over half the acreage in the lower 48 States, which is the total area currently in suburban/urban use. That’s enormous positive potential. Continue reading →
One of the great reasons to plant native species rather than their non-native counterparts is the support they provide to local wildlife populations. Simply put: If you plant native species–any native species–you will support a greater array of wildlife than if you had planted the same area with non-native species. The basic principle is that wildlife needs food, water, and shelter. However, for those gardeners truly interested in creating a creature-friendly environment, it is possible to do more. Continue reading →
The 2013 season? Well, with apologies to the late Jerry Garcia, I have to say, “What a long, strange trip it’s been….”
First, the snow never wanted to leave. In central Massachusetts, snow was still on the ground in mid-April as bulbs and perennials pushed their way out of the half-frozen ground. Then, from April into May it was unusually dry, no April showers at all but plenty of May flowers. All the moisture from the late snow cover did contribute to a spectacular blooming season for spring blooming plants and trees.
This article first appeared in Volume 96 of Wren Song.
Pawpaw Asimina triloba is a lovely little understory tree I would not be without. I first discovered it in my oak woods, happily naturalized and looking like something a bit more tropical than belonged there. Soon I fell in love with its bright green, large, drooping leaves that caught the light and glowed on moonlit nights.
I feel that this tree has been overlooked as an ornamental landscape tree which may be used to create a beautiful and wildlife friendly yard. While it is cultivated as a crop fruit it may be planted in a residential setting simply as an attractive tree while being a food source for visiting critters. The fruit can be eaten by opossum, raccoon, squirrels or foxes while the leaves are a host plant for the beautiful Zebra Swallowtail butterfly.
Plants are a key element to a balanced pond ecosystem. No matter how big or small the body of water may be, plants play an essential role in maintaining good water quality and a healthy balanced habitat. Some of the functions plants perform include bank and soil stabilization, nutrient uptake from the water column, and habitat for everything from beneficial microbes, insects, fish, and amphibians to ducks, small mammals, and song birds. Plants also provide us with visual aesthetics with showy flowers and blocks of texture and color throughout the seasons. Continue reading →