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bettywiener

Shade Tolerant Ground Cover to Stop Stormwater Erosion

bettywiener
9 years ago

Hi, I bought a new home 9 months ago in an area called the Northwest Woods. There are strict clearing restrictions here and I have innumerable mature trees with extensive leaf systems shading most of the property. As a result, there is very little ground cover on most of the property. Just dirt.The home is basically in the center of a bowl and when it rains, the side yard erodes and washes to the rear of the property creating a sandy/muddy mess.

I need shade tolerant ground cover and fast! The thing is I know absolutely nothing about landscaping/gardening and can't afford a professional. I need some advice on what native grasses/ground cover to buy, where to buy it, when and how to plant it. Am I buying seed or plants? Will it look crazy if I just throw down seed? Really, any advice is appreciated.

Comments (59)

  • agardenstateof_mind
    9 years ago

    You have an opportunity for a beautiful woodland garden, but you may have some work to do, whether you opt for a woodland garden or just something to stop the erosion.

    Out there, I imagine your soil is very sandy, so it is not going to hold moisture well and may be rather poor in nutrients. You have a good Cooperative Extension Service run by Cornell University. Check with your county office of the CES as to what type of soil you have (if you don't know), and for a pH test to determine acidity. If you're willing to pay the fee, a comprehensive soil test to determine fertility is a good idea. It runs $20 here in NJ; our pH tests are free and done while you wait.

    Are you near enough that there is any salt spray? Are there deer in the area? You'll need to take these factors into consideration.

    There are probably many native plants well suited to your site; the Cornell Master Gardeners at the CES can probably make some recommendations and most likely give you some publications.

    To help control erosion, it is the root system rather than what you see above ground that is going to do the job - seek plants with a fibrous root system to hold the soil.

    If it isn't too late in the season for them, "plugs" would be more economical than those in typical nursery pots. These are rooted plants in containers smaller than you usually see in garden centers, however they usually become established more quickly.

    For inspiration, check your local library for books on shade gardens, woodland gardens, native or natural gardens. Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware specializes in researching woodland and meadow plants native to the region. A trip there is most inspiring ... a virtual visit via their website is probably more doable for you; I think they have a photo gallery there somewhere. Or, better yet, do a search for "Mt Cuba Center" + Images.

    I've not given you any specific plants because there are so many variables and so very many options. To name a few perennials: wild ginger, fernleaf bleeding heart, Solomon's seal, lungwort, ferns, trillium, tiarella, dogtooth violet, Dutchman's breeches, rue anemone. Some small, understory trees and shrubs for layering: dogwood, redbud, serviceberry, witch hazel, spicebush, calycanthus, clethra, oakleaf hydrangea, fothergilla, itea, ninebark. And there are more.

    Just stay away from invasives. I don't know what you have for NY, but in NJ we have an Invasive Species Strike Team. LInk to their site is below; there's a "Do Not Plant" list in the lower left corner of the home page, and I imagine a list for NY would be very similar, if not identical.

    Good luck, enjoy the journey, and please post back as the project progresses.

    Here is a link that might be useful: NJ Invasive Species Strike Team

  • edlincoln
    9 years ago

    Most of the plants I know that are good for erosion control or sandy/muddy messes like sun.

    Little Bluestem, Northern Sea Oats, and Pennsylvania Sedge all have some shade tolerance and are great for erosion. I know you can buy seeds for the first two, and plants for the second two. Fall is a great time to plant.

    As far as shade tolerant plants under trees, I tend to like Lily of the Valley (There is a native variety Convallaria majuscula and an invasive European version) and ferns. You would plant plants, not seeds.

    It's considered a weed and isn't particularly good for erosion control, but Jewel Weed is one of the few plants other then ferns that thrives in areas that are both swampy and shaded.
    (You would harvest seeds from a nearby swamp)

    Blueberry and cranberry tolerate some shade. (Not really ground covers, exactly.) (You would plant plants, although you could buy bulk cranberries at the grocery store and plant the pits after you eat them. I wouldn't suggest this for blueberries).

    Funny you commented on the leaves. My parents had a summer place with pine needles on the ground. One year the guy we hired to watch the property in the winter raked, and we had lots of erosion. Lots of traditional landscaping conventions only make sense for a small, suburban, non-wooded lot in a fairly wet temperate zone, and are nonsensical (environmentally destructive and expensive) if applied to forests or desserts.

    See if there is a county soil conservation office for your county. They may offer free advice and cheap plants.

    What is your soil like? Sandy, swampy, clay?

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  • jcalhoun
    9 years ago

    Native ferns, partridge berry, and some native wildflowers are shade tolerant.

  • kelp
    9 years ago

    Besides the fern and wild ginger, you could also try Running Serviceberry (Amelanchier stoloniferous), Running Strawberrybush (Euonymus obovatus), or Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis). All can take shade, and spread pretty quickly, provided you add compost -- or other organic soil amendment -- and water the first year. Groundcover blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) can also take quite a bit of shade, and spread as well, but a little slower than the others.

  • Carrie B
    9 years ago

    Some good suggestions here. I especially like Tiarella for its ability to spread well in shade, Asarum Canadense is a good one, too.

    And for heaven's sake - no more raking leaves!

  • princessgrace79
    8 years ago

    Snowberry bushes (Symphoricarpos albus)were planted on our slope to prevent erosion many years ago and they spread fast with runners and have cute white fall berries.

  • IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.
    8 years ago

    I would suggest that you look into Fragrant sumac (Native)
    Very adaptable, showy and perfect for your situation

    Here is a link that might be useful: Fragrant Sumac

  • Liz
    8 years ago

    It is something of a weed, and self sows like crazy,but Eupatorium rugosum Is a very shade tolerant native plant. It will grow and bloom even under Norway Maple. It has large showy clusters of white flowers and would be an ideal plant except for its tendency to pop up everywhere. However, in this case, that is what you want. It is very attractive to butterflies, and it is blooming right now, at a time of year when a few other nectar plants are available for our pollinators. I live in Monmouth County New Jersey, which has sandy loam soil and is probably not too different from where you live. There is a variety sold called "Chocolate" which has darker leaves, while the native variety is light green. You can almost certainly find seed on your native plants a little later in the season, and I can't imagine you would need to do more than scatter it around.

    I also love ferns and would recommend our native lady fern for your situation. It spreads quite readily by runners, and it is a very beautiful species. Around here you can find glades of it under the canopy of trees. If you look around you can probably find rhizomes for sale inexpensively in large quantity, say 100 at a time.

    Both plants are completely deer resistant, in my experience.

  • docmom_gw
    8 years ago

    I love Virginia Creeper as a native, shade tolerant ground cover. It has beautiful autumn color and can climb/decorate the tree trunks without compromising the health of the trees. It also hosts some wonderful moths and produces berries that are enjoyed by many woodland critters and birds. Easy to start from seed.

    Martha

  • Deborah lippitt
    6 years ago

    So good suggestions here..also Virginia Creeper is considered invasive in the Pacific North West. And grasses are almost as bad as bare ground..so don't plant grasses. Check out laspilitas.com. It is geared more for the west coast though

  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I get the sense that bettywiener has left the building...

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    6 years ago

    "grasses are almost as bad as bare ground..so don't plant grasses"

    No one listened when the old Indian said "grass no good upside down" then we had the dust bowl.

  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago

    My take on deg's words there regarding grasses was that many woodlands, having been stripped of their undergrowth by excessive deer browsing, are subsequently invaded by non-native grasses. Many human animals like the look of a patch of woods like this, but it is in a slow death spiral-absolutely no reproduction. And something like Kentucky bluegrass-not from Kentucky, not from N. America-has become, along with another non-native invader-redtop-among the most ubiquitous plant species in every type of habitat, and provides next to nothing for wildlife...and if in shade, doesn't do a good job of holding the soil anyway, which is what this thread started out to be about.

    There are a tiny number of native woodland-adapted grasses-not many-and any one of these few could be an option, but it's way down the list in terms of function, let alone aesthetic interest, IMO. If one does like the "grass look", then the oak (or Pennsylvania, same plant) sedge is a good choice, along with other plants, of course. To me, there is no finer general grouping of plants to both hold the soil and thrive in shade then various species of rhizomatous ferns.

  • texasranger2
    6 years ago

    "grasses are almost as bad as bare ground..so don't plant grasses"

    Its like skinning the earth and exposing soil to think that way. In a forest area native sedge or Northern Sea Oats would be nice and self sustaining........I've seen areas like this thickly planted in sedge which looks natural and fantastic.

    Grasses build the foundation for life. They bind the earth preventing wind and water erosion. They are the base of the food chain, feeding all wildlife and ourselves. They hold every texture and color. Ultimately, grasses are the most valuable resource and responsibility of humankind. 40% of US land was once dazzling prairie. Grassland is vastly richer and more supportive of life than conventional agriculture...In Wes Jackson's words "The plow is deadlier than the sword."

    I got this out of the front page of the P. of the SW catalog, it came to mind immediately reading that post.




  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago

    Heh, hi Tex. As you know, I like and appreciate native grasses in their proper setting. This ain't that. This is clearly a patch of woods, and as I said just above, there are relatively few grasses that are actually adapted to shade and the other facets of the woodland setting. Not none, but not many either. One would not be amiss if they were to point out that grasslands and forests are two very different and in some ways opposite plant communities. For one, grassland soil microflora and fauna consists largely of bacteria. In the forest, fungi occupy most of that realm. For another, most grasses are preeminently adapted to full sun. Most denizens of the forest understory are adapted to shade. I do like the mention of sedges. Come to think of it, I'd already recommended that!

  • texasranger2
    6 years ago

    Yea I know and I hear you, it was the way remark was worded that got me --grass is worse than bare ground. I mean, heck, how could I leave a thing like that dangling out there with a hook on the end?

    I appreciate woodlands too, preferably off in the distance on another persons lot.

  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago

    Haha, don't I know it. But agreed-even a bluegrass (or whatever non-native turf species is prevalent in a given area) lawn is better-way better, than bare dirt. Now if there's a bunch of seeds of good species waiting to land and make good seed to soil contact....I might backtrack!

  • texasranger2
    6 years ago

    Around here it would be that big coarse fescue forming tussocks. Bottlebrush grass will grow in shade and I rather like it. I was thinking of growing some but never ordered seeds. Further south, shade can be very bright and several full sun plants will grow & bloom in shade, in fact some do better than in full sun where they turn crispy.

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    6 years ago

    I agree with TR, it was the wording of the post that caught my attention. We are all in agreement that woodlands and grasslands are very different. But that's not the way it comes across when someone quips a broad statement such as "grass is as bad as bare ground," leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Semantics...

  • texasranger2
    6 years ago

    Looks like the original comment was deleted, I hope no one's feelings got hurt.

    Zach, I sat through that old movie Jeremiah Johnson last night. I could easily live in Colorado on a wooded lot, no problem. The trees in that landscape are gorgeous and look harmonious --- comparing those trees to what you usually see down in these parts is like comparing unrelated subjects, at least to my eye it is.


  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    6 years ago

    It's still showing up on my end, TR.

    Jeremiah Johnson is one of my favorite movies. I actually have the book it was (loosely) based on "Liver Eater" which is a great read (Journal of Trapper is another great primary account of the fur trade era if you were into that).

    There is a lot of "issues" with our trees here in Colorado. On the lower elevation slopes, 5,500-8,000 feet, it was historically open ponderosa pine savanna, but that has been crowded out by severely overgrown (aka "doghaired") lodgepole (National Geographic states that British Columbia's forests contain 3 times as many mature pine trees than they should, the situation is virtually identical across the Rocky Mountains). This type of forest has also been a boon to pine bark beetles, Nat geo calls it a "beetle buffet."

    A couple years ago I got to meet with the Forest Service silviculturalist for our area and he told me a fascinating story. In an effort to save their trees from beetle kill, Grand County called him in to ask what they should do. "Clear cut" he said. They told him there was no way the taxpayers would support spending money on killing trees. The beetle kill spread and eventually killed all those trees anyways and they wound up paying more by removing them piecemeal rather than all at once.

    The pine beetle population has since peaked and after many years is on the decline, but it has left enormous amounts of dead trees across the western half of the state. Pine bark beetles and their cyclical "epidemics" are a natural part of the mountain ecology. Though, in the past it has also been at least partially controlled by forest fire which contained their spread. Now, we are left with areas of standing fuel that numbers over a million acres.

    The health of western forests is in serious decline due to the combined effects of suppressing natural fire and the blind devotion to never cutting down a single tree. Ironically, when fires do occur, it is the people who adhere to that devotion that are often hit the hardest. Their unwavering belief of leaving every tree standing prevents them from creating a fire break, or safe zone, around their house. Fire departments often don't even bother trying to save them.

  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago

    ...and it is the very presence of houses all over god's back forty that is both preventing the land from burning the way it used to (and should) and is upping the human-hazard quotient when a fire does occur.

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    6 years ago

    Very true, Tom. Colorado was 2nd in the nation for population growth last year, adding 100,000 people, a net gain of just under 2%. God's back 40 is more like God's back patio here.

  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Yeah..............and let me guess, Florida is number 1 for pop. growth? that state too used to be largely covered by a plant community known down there as pine flatwoods, which too requires periodic wildfire to remain healthy. Guess what....first of all, the pine flatwoods occupies slightly higher (remember, this is Florida) ground and therefor is all "developable", so is disappearing fast, and second, with all the houses, new highways, and condos going in all over, burning-even careful prescribed fire-is mostly a no-no now. And the little bit of such forest left declines in quality as a result.

    While I was down in Fort Myers in Jan, I read a figure that every day, one thousand people move to Florida. Every day! That place is fugged............

  • texasranger2
    6 years ago

    I recently saw a docu on this subject, I think it was on PBS. From what I could gather, it sounded like Smokey has been a bit too successful over the last 50 years or so with instilling ideas that all forest fires are bad & should be suppressed, now we are paying the price. I doubt there is anyone in this country who doesn't know Smokey and his simple message. Anyway, the Forestry Dept is setting fires with the approval of Smokey according to the documentary. It was interesting.


    I like the movie Jeremiah Johnson but I figured I be admitting to being corny to say that. This time I mostly enjoyed seeing the landscape, I love the rabbit bushes with the pines in the background and the log cabins. I'll sit through a Western I don't like just to see the landscape.

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Surprisingly enough, Tom, it's North Dakota. They only gained 16,000 some odd people, but percentage wise, it was an almost 3% population increase.

    I wager that eventually the total suppression of fire in our forests will be rated with predator eradication, tamarisk and kudzu introduction, and stocking lakes with non-native fish as one of the largest land management mistakes. That's not to disparage the field, but there are limits to what humans can feasibly accomplish with the knowledge, tools (and politics) at hand.

    Interesting, and depressing, story about the pine flatwoods. Being several generations removed from the east coast, I am not up to speed with the goings on there (just this past week I was chastised by a lady from Connecticut for including New York as part of New England). To be honest, I wasn't aware that Florida had pine forest, my associating them with western mountains, and (apparently false) notion that all forest est of the Mississippi was comprised almost entirely of deciduous trees.

    Don't feel corny, TR. It's a good movie ;)

  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago

    Yeah, Florida was nearly all piney woods prior to settlement! And as I say, because it's not "wetlands" (well, some are but that's another story), the developers are liquidating it at a feverish pace. Funny how protecting wetlands-an important thing for sure-is having the unwanted spin-off effect of placing non-wetlands in areas undergoing rapid development in even more pressure.

    I couldn't agree with you more Zach on including predator eradication in that list of mistakes. Even today...after just a few years of wolf reintroduction, the talk in taverns and among deer hunters just gets sickening. It is beyond obvious that huge numbers of wolves are being shot illegally. and these fools haven't a clue as to the actual predator/prey relationship. Sure, wolves are highly intelligent animals, and they have rebounded well. But as a forester, I know there's still way too many deer.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    East Texas is nothing but pines. Georgia and New England have gobs of pines too.

    Our wildlife exception plan has a predator removal part that I mostly ignore. I like foxes, Mountain lions and coyotes . But I target coons because they are out of balance and they do not eat deer.

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I am clearly ignorant of things too far removed from my own backyard. I had no idea that large tracts of pine forest were not a rarity I'm that part of the country. I always imagine oaks and things when I think of eastern forest, and believed that "eastern hardwood" described every treed landscape from Missouri to Virginia, and the north-south equivalent. How very wrong I was.

    Aldo Leopold wrote in "A Sand County Almanac" a narrative about his time with the Forest Service in Arizona during the time when killing wolves was considered sound management. In at the end of his story he says "I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the [wolf] die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

    Wolves are a touchy subject. One the one hand you have the hunters and ranchers who believe in total annihilation. On the other you have a group of environmentalists who believe that we can never have enough wolves. In my experience both of these views are wrong. Balance is the key word when it comes to situations like these, but is a mighty hard road to travel. No matter what, the anti wolf folks will complain that they can't kill every wolf on the continent, and the others will rail against even one. Neither side is interested in facts.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    6 years ago

    After just spending $4500 on the front end off my car because of a color blind deer, I am in the camp that feels that there is no good deer but a dead deer. Bring on the mountain lions and anything else that will reduce this plethora of tiara wearing horned rats in high heeled shoes.

  • texasranger2
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    You are lucky you didn't get killed. How a deer could miss that YELLOW car is beyond me.

    PBS aired a show just last week about the return of wolves to Yellowstone in the 1990's on the Nature series. Decline in elk and coyotes, rise in aspen, willow & cottonwood trees and beaver colonies, different species of birds gradually returning to a more balanced environment. They are working with the sheep farmers who graze their sheep on government lands. It was a very interesting show.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    6 years ago

    Maybe the color yellow attract the ire of deer in the same way red attracts bulls.

  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago

    While emotions do run high on both sides of the wolf equation, that doesn't mean everybody is wrong. Sometimes, folks glimpse the truth and that fires them up to support a cause. I'm leery of the concept of "the truth" existing somewhere as the average of two lies. That leaves you with what...Fox News? CNN?

    Anyway, I will repeat...as a forester...and as one who has learned that whole tree species are being vanquished from the northern forest due to a too-high herbivore (deer) population, I don't have doubts and equivocation about the predator issue. The land itself needs them, and so do I.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    6 years ago

    Yes, here too.Trees are being endangered, and some fairly common ones at that like Spanish oaks. These trees are not long lived trees so they need a steady replacement. One can see lots of seedlings from the aging old guys but they get chowed on fairly quickly by the deer. There are few teenage trees. I protect seedlings and toddlers hoping for trees that will become survivable without cages. The drought has not been kind on the small trees either. I have cages all over. Our drought put such a stress on the environment that they extended the hunting period and gave a unlimited allotment during that period one year. People were not hunting because the deer were so starved and small. None of the trophy hunters were out. Escarpment black cherry , Texas pistache, gum bumela, native white honeysuckle, madrone are all less evident. Even non tasty shrubs like thorny agarita and evergreen sumac are browsed when they are small. I pile up beaches all over their place as a protection.

  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago

    Different species-same issue. Our areas of concern are with northern white cedar(Thuja), hemlocks, and most any hardwood one would wish to establish from scratch. That latter case is really a separate item, not having to do so much with out in the wild as with attempting to establish plantings. But the two conifers are being decimated. There is just no recruitment, save for a few mysterious areas where, despite large deer numbers, these trees are reproducing successfully. My land is one such spot. I still don't know why, but I'm pleased by it.

  • texasranger2
    6 years ago

    Different species opposite problem. Maybe we need some elk and more deer in Oklahoma. Woops, I forgot, I think the Buffalo once served that purpose.

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    TR, did you know that elk were historically a prairie species?

    "While emotions do run high on both sides of the wolf equation, that doesn't mean everybody is wrong. Sometimes, folks glimpse the truth and that fires them up to support a cause. I'm leery of the concept of "the truth" existing somewhere as the average of two lies."

    Management is akin to walking a tightrope. It would be nice if we as land managers could just do whatever we think is best biologically and ecologically, the field would be a much easier one. But the truth is, we simply can't. We have to take ALL the factors into consideration, including human concerns and emotions. That's why I say it's a balance between the two extremes. It's also a balance between what is right for nature and what is right for people. Concessions and compromises have to be made. More often than not, those concessions are unequally shared because politics play a part in it as well. Nevertheless, whether the final decision equals absolute "truth" or not is, in most cases, irrelevant.

    In the end, all we can do is attempt to balance the needs of everyone and everything involved as best we can. This is not a field for zealots, unless they also have some masochistic love of disappointment.

    In regards to wolves in particular, there is strong evidence that a middle ground exists between the anti wolfers and environmentalists that is ecologically sound. That is why I said neither side is interested in facts.

    Don't get me wrong, Tom, I agree whole heatedly that predators are absolutely crucial. The land is utterly dependent on them. Without wolves, entire ecosytems have collapsed, and in some areas where large predators have been removed, they continue to do so. So I hope I am not coming off as some one who believes in their extirpation. I also don't believe that in they are in need of our complete and total protection in every case.

  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago

    Very well said Zach. Indeed, it is a tightrope we walk, no argument there. I think here in Wisconsin, where rednecks and dumbasses abound, I'm sorry to have to report...the wolf is going to get shot at and trapped again before too long, with congressmen weighing in on the wolf season side of things and the rabble-rowsers making by far the most noise. It is this tendency that I dislike the most among my fellow citizens...the tendency to believe whatever the most drunk idiots have repeated...as if they know a thing about it.

    But I do agree with the points as you've presented them.

  • texasranger2
    6 years ago

    Good points Zach. I didn't know elk was a prairie species. I accidentally typed in antelope on my other post and had to go back and edit it to elk, must be from the song 'Home on the Range' where the deer and the antelope roam.

    Tom, you remember that utube and story I posted about rednecks down here shooting prairie dogs for entertainment (a-hulk a-hulk)? Need I say more?

  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago

    Yeah, I do. Up here, they hold coyote shooting contests. Included is a prize for littlest coyote shot. If that isn't sick, I don't know what.....

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    6 years ago

    This guy says that he finds the the whole idea of eradication biology to be misplaced. He says that by taking out so many "invasive species(animals)" we leave nothing but the heard of commercial cows for predators to eat on. This is a good string of articles. Mater fact I do like this site. He gives a lot of ideas about land management in the close to desert west Texas.

    Aoudad, the Bogus Bogeyman

  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago

    Read a bunch of it, and yes, reminds me of my "Where do camels belong" post of yesteryear. In fact, to a T, this article echoes what I reported at that time as one researcher's conclusion that much, if not all of the judgment against the plant purple loosestrife as outcompeting and subsequently displacing native wetland plant communities was based on mere echoings of earlier articles...magazine articles at that! That is to say, just as this author does...where's the proof? Given that so much of my work involves the control of "invasive species" while in turn promoting a plant community (prairie) which while composed of plants that truly are native to Wisconsin, is far, far from having been the dominant plant community here....often leaves me in a sort of conundrum: I like my work, and I do know for a fact we're doing some good things....but might not much of our budget and efforts be better directed at other things? I know the answer!

    The only saving grace for me has been the openness and willingness of the engineers with whom I work to listen and adopt many ideas I've come up with. In some ways, it's a dream job. Thanks for linking that up, Wanto.

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    6 years ago

    Also excuse the horrendous grammer and syntax... I typed that ony phone lol.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Zack, I didn't post it because I hole heartedly agree with it. Again the "truth" might lie somewhere in the middle. I read "at" issues from many sides. The rancher manages 35,000 acres and I have found that controlling 17 acres is about making choices that have me riding a world where I do not control everything that comes my way. I can only imagine what the uncontrollable issues that he surfs. He has documented yellow star thistle patch and has found that it usually goes away after a decade if left alone. I found that surprising, even confusing. KR bluestem is a species that many people love to hate here in Texas. Yet I do see the butterflies going for their inflourescens during migration. I also see the native bluestem multiplying in the front field amongst them. It appears that on dry summers, it does not make much of an appearance or a very late one, giving the natives a chance to compete.. I know that I do not have the financial nor energy resources to dig them all out. Fire was said to control it but now they have back tracked on it. I am trying to keep it out of the valley where I have a delightful native community of Muhlenbergia s of different sorts. Nor do I want to poison everything out only to have the wind bring more to the empty soil. I was interested in the Monsanto angle of the board of directors mentioned in this Book review .It is more of the same thinking and written by David Theodoreopolis of J L Hudson Seedman fame, so he does have skin in the game and makes money selling possible invasive exotics AND natives. He is a controversial figure. I do find what he says about the fear of change valid and where do we stop the ecological clock since it is a forever changing thing. I just wish it would not change so fast. I have also and aesthetic concern about loosing some ground hugging spring ephemerals to the always land hungry bastard cabbage. Like I said, I do not agree with everything. that he says.

    I do find that much of the language used by some do or die native guys to be wishy washy as to what is a native and what is not.

    At the land conservationist meeting here in texas, there are 2 camps about the invasive grass KR Bluestem. 1 states it is a bad bad monoculture forming invasive that is good for nothing and and the other camp says it is a good land stabilizer and good at getting water to penetrate down to the water table. Another is that burr clover that was used as green manure and escaped. It grows in patches and I am tired of digging it up and it will improve my soil. My soil needs soil improvement desperately since invasively farmed cows have been overgrazing it for decades before I got here. Maybe it will disappear as it incorporates nitrogen into the soil.The soil washed away. I won't plant uncontrollable non natives because of the guilt if they escape issue. I prefer natives but I am a practical minded human when it comes to picking battles of whom I eradicate, where and how. The info keeps changing. I do not want to cause harm. But I do not know what is harm sometimes. My thinking is changeable about this subject. There is a lot on his site that is interesting. He uses Holistic land management ideas.

    He brings up that the removal of all herd animals off the grasslands and high deserts is harmful. .Balancing them is essential but these lands always had herd animals of sorts and many of the natural ones are gone and the niche is filled by cows. There is a connection between the desert tortoise populations and the herding of cows now. Desert tortoise populations have gone down where the removal of all cows have happened. Go figure. The politics of Rancher removal by the BLM is very troubling. Then they seem to give the rights of the land off to Uranium miners. Yes there is uranium under the Hammond's land. OOPS I didn't mean to open that can of worms.

  • wisconsitom
    6 years ago

    Some good points Zach. For me, everything is case by case-whatever the management question. I'm about as sure as a guy can be however that the noisy crowd in this state calling for a return of wolf hunting and trapping are largely not wildlife biologists, are largely misinformed, and are largely emotional in their response to the presence of this animal in the landscape. It's purely reactionary on their parts. Hell, walking one of the boardwalks in Florida, in this case, the 6 Mile Cypress Slough near Fort Myers (a great place to view cypress swamp), I was unable to avoid this rabble, the party just ahead of me belying their having come from almost precisely where my land is, north of Green Bay. There's no escape from these idjuts, the alpha male of this group pronouncing that "they must kill all the wolves, because these wolves are killing all the deer". No escape.

  • Campanula UK Z8
    6 years ago

    Um, the invasion biology paradigm has not really gained as much traction in Europe - I have also been reading around the issues - but it would appear that the original and somewhat simplistic orthodoxies regarding extirpation of non-native biota are becoming a bit more nuanced.... UK gardeners, in general, have little williingness to differentiate between native, non-native and naturalised...for both cultural and historical reasons...but prefer to categorise flora and fauna as being harmful or injurious regardless of origin. I think we absolutely should not lose track of the dynamic nature of environmental change...which, of course, can not be divorced from the prevailing social and political discourse.

  • edlincoln
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I think part of the difference may be some of the disasters we are trying to avert in the US already happened in Europe long before people started keeping track of such things. (ie the Native British species that can't compete with German and Middle Eastern species are probably already extinct.) Also, Europe is connected by land to Asia and Africa. The temperate zone in the Eurasian landmass is much bigger, and European species coming to the US can be like big city sports teams competing against a school of 60 people.

    I'm a little leery of "categorizing flora and fauna as being harmful or injurious regardless of origin" . because many categorize species that are a nuisance as being "invasive". A successful native plant trying to reclaim territory it had before the land was developed may be a nuisance but isn't an environmental threat.

  • texasranger2
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    edlincoln---that makes a lot of sense, it happened back so far in Europe.....etc etc. Historically speaking, America was recently still a vast wilderness and I don't see how we could expect attitudes of people living in Great Britain and those in America to be the same. In America its recent enough for there to be photographs. It might seem that some people here are overreacting, being simplistic or overly orthodox when favoring native plants over exotics among other things, but I don't think that is a problem even if its true. There will always be over zealous purists, some in the middle, people who could care less along with those who wish to justify their own interests but that's the case on any given subject.

    Unlike Great Britain, the pre-settlement American landscape was well documented and its heartbreaking to realize it was drastically transformed within a couple generations, in many instances not toward the better but that depends on whose priorities are being discussed. Fortunately there were people who had a love and appreciation toward the land and the government stepped in to pass laws preserving parks and reserves. The fact that there is a strong interest toward natives and species preservation gaining momentum today strikes me as a positive direction so I hope it keeps gaining traction.

    I find it interesting to read about other parts of the country, wantanamara's struggle with caliche & saws in central Texas, Tom's observations with grassland vs woodlands and the attitudes there and Zach's opinions and experiences in Colorado, edlincoln, ncrescue etc. I don't have experience with those regional environments so most likely many of the images I form in my head are distorted but I do know a bit about the Great Plains since I have always lived here. Here is simplicity for you. Vast areas of the plains prior to settlement were wide open & treeless with insects, fires and frightfully harsh weather patterns that made for a hostile environment unsuitable for human survival & settlement. This was the case as recently in my own family when my grandparents homesteaded. In order to survive, the landscape was drastically altered. Its not difficult to observe what was introduced and what is still native around here. Pictures exist. Certain negative results are obvious.

  • Campanula UK Z8
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Yes, it is a difficult and complex issue - finding a balance between the needs of wildlife, human development and agriculture...and there can be no valid comparison between the (island) UK, Europe and the US...after all, I am lurking on this forum precisely because of my interest in non-native north American species as a change from the Asian species which have been foundational in British horticulture.

    I don't really have a dog in this race - native and non-native has been very low on my list of priorities but I will say, with no irony at all, trying to avert disaster has simply created another catastrophe in its place. While we rightfully query the effects of over-dependency on chemicals, I am utterly flabberghasted by the organic theorist's uncritical and enthusiastic appropriation of biological controls (more 'natural'??)....such as the now infamous harlequin ladybird. First imported as a predator on aphids, this nasty little cannibalistic beetle has turned upon our native ladybirds, killing and eating them and worse, these beetles hibernate (in buildings) when our native species often died out over winter. We have, in the space of less than a decade. absolutely destroyed a species of native insect, replacing them with a repulsive pest which is now out of whack with the prevailing ecology. And we are in the process of going down that exact route, inporting a Japanese beetle which will, supposedly, eat the invasive knotweeds and then simply die of starvation...except it almost certainly won't. Life is, as we should surely appreciate, adaptable and tenacious - this new beetle, with no balancing predator, will do one of 2 things - it will either find another food source or it will interbreed with a native species...but it is higly unlikely that it will simply die out.

    I guess the point I am (tediously) making is that, with the best of intentions, we have buggered up the environment and now, however hard we work to return to some past Eden, the cat is out of the bag, there is no going back - but we do, at least, have a greater level of data which, in theory, should give us models of potential disaster aversion...but we also have to be prepared for the fact that our fondest principles may turn out to be monsters in disguise since life has a way of confounding us..

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