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Landscape Challenges

The ecological landscaper relies on landscape practices that promote the healthiest plants possible and utilizes a range of non-toxic alternatives in order to preempt and solve problems in the landscape. Landscapes benefit when those responsible for care remain present in the landscape and identify plant and animal pests and diseases early.

The High Line in New York City, inspired by wildness, but very high maintenance.
 

Urban Wilderness and the “High Line Problem”

By Emma Marris

In October of 2013, I toured three miles of disused railroad line in Philadelphia.  The entire line was covered with spontaneous vegetation alive with butterflies and ladybugs. Here nature was showing us her resilience and her wild beauty and offering to meet us where most of us live now, in the city.  What is tricky about urban wildness is what I call the High Line Problem.

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jumping worm 1 

Invasive in the Spotlight: Jumping Worms

By Emma Erler

Conventional wisdom tells us that earthworms are good for the soil. Now there’s a new worm in town that is not beneficial to our landscapes. JUMPING WORMS!! You read correctly. Jumping worms are an invasive worm from Asia that can quickly change soil structure and reduce biodiversity. Don’t panic, but be on the lookout for Jumping Worms in your garden.   

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Forest Savers LLC from Woodstock, Vermont uses a custom-built tractor to uproot and shred invasive shrubs at the Oyster River Forest in Durham, NH as part of a 60-acre restoration project to restore a healthy native plant community to benefit pollinators, songbirds, and the state-endangered New England cottontail. 

Reducing Invasive Plants and Recovering a Healthy Plant Community

By Ellen Snyder

In southeastern New Hampshire, where I work with landowners and communities on land stewardship, managing invasive plants is a constant struggle. As the Land Stewardship Coordinator for the Town of Durham, I’m guiding three restoration projects on town conservation land. It was hard not to be overwhelmed by the pervasiveness of invasive plants on all three properties. To avoid invasive paralysis, I keep my focus on the goal: restoration of a place to a mostly self-sustaining, healthy plant community.  The reward is a restored landscape brimming with native plants and native beneficial insects. 

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Figure 8. Dodder, when left uncontrolled, tends to spread farther and farther outward, smothering host plants. When this occurs, host plants are further weakened by multiple vines with penetrating haustoria and an increase in shade caused by dense vine growth. Source: www.gardeningknowhow.com

  

Dodder, a Parasitic Vine Weed

By Bruce Wenning

Not all plant diseases are caused by parasitic microbes, some are caused by parasitic weeds.  The dodder vine is one of those weeds.  Dodder attaches itself to healthy plants and makes them more vulnerable to other diseases and insect pests. Find out all about the dodder lifecycle and best practices for ridding your landscape of this fascinating but noxious vine.

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As any gardener will know, keeping flowers looking beautiful can take some effort. Learning how to identify and understand the natural history of pests is an important step in managing them without chemicals. (Photo: Eric Lee-Mäder.)
 

How to Identify and Respond to Pests at Home

By Emily May

One of the most fulfilling aspects of spending most of my time at home over the past few months has been watching the flowers in my yard blossom and buzz with bees, flies, butterflies, hummingbirds, and more. I also notice when things go awry, like when I spotted deformed flower heads on my bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) and later on my purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). What was going on and what could I do about it without the use of harmful pesticides which pose risk to both humans and insects alike. 

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Xylocopa_Latreille carpenter-bee one of the largest native bees in the United States 

Carpenter Bees at Work in Home and Garden

By Karen Boussolini 

Bees are smart. They recognize high-quality food and habitat. The buzz has gone out that my house is a happening place for carpenter bees. In a quest to rid my house of carpenter bees, understand their life cycle, and find alternatives that don’t involve them eating my house I discovered some simple steps to save both my house and these gentle beneficial insects. 

 

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Patio with salvaged sandstone 

Revitalizing A Tired Palette

by Don Pell

Four years ago, a project inquiry brought me to a site that dreams are made of—an 18th-century colonial farmhouse beautifully restored over the past 30 years by its owners. The details of the home were meticulously curated; however, the gardens were entirely unconsidered. The home’s surroundings looked degraded and sadly suburban. Join me as I transform this landscape into an ecological oasis for the homeowners to enjoy for years to come.  

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 From left: A garden of anise hyssop, little bluestem, sneezeweed, boneset in front of smooth hydrangea. 

Lessons Learned on A Native Plant Journey

By Cathy Weston

A visit to  Cape Cod brings us to a  2-acre fallow farmland property where the homeowner/gardener has spent years cutting back invasive plants to return the land from an Old Field habitat to a Coastal Woodland.  The amount of effort to remove and keep invasives at bay could seem a daunting task, but this homeowner persevered and with trial and error created a beautiful ecological habit for both herself and the wildlife her property now calls home. 

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Tracking the Asian Tiger Mosquito in the Northeastern US: An Opportunity for Citizen Scientists!

by Kellyann Baxendell & Laura Harrington

The Asian Tiger Mosquito (ATM) was first introduced to this country in the mid-1980s and has become invasive across a wide swath of the eastern US, with a continually expanding range. ATMs are particularly aggressive mosquitoes that feed during the day which makes them a nuance to gardeners and landscapers. Not only are their bites painful but like other mosquitoes, they carry a variety of blood-borne diseases.    Learn how scientists are tracking ATM and how we can all be citizen scientists in the efforts to help stop the spread of disease.   

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