Green Street: Beautiful but Creepy

Remember the Stephen King book, Christine, about the creepy Plymouth Fury that had a life of its own?  Well, we have similar “creatures” here in the Pines – invasive plants.  A Master Gardener new to the Pines recently contacted me about ground cover which she spotted growing up some trees in Teal Bay.  As she pointed out, while the landscaping is lovely, English and Irish Ivy are invasive species which, left to grow unchecked on trees, prevent photosynthesis which, when complete coverage is achieved, kills the trees 100% of the time.  In addition to the ivies, we have numerous other creepy plants here in the Pines such as:  Japanese honeysuckle, periwinkle, wisteria, barberry, purple loosestrife and pampas grasses.

Many of these plants are beautiful but left to their own devices will choke out other plants. The ivy not only entombs the trees but also smothers all other ground vegetation.  A drive along any of our highways in the early summer reveals wisteria hanging from many trees.  This is wisteria that has been “transplanted” by birds and, left alone, roots and overtakes anything in its path. Pampas grasses are those huge, wheat colored tufted grasses that come to life in mid to late summer.  They flow beautifully in the wind but a small plant soon grows into a jungle and can become impossible to tame.

A recent article in the Washington Post related that Towson University has recruited a herd of 18 goats to “put the bite on” the invasive English Ivy which is taking over the floor of the school’s arboretum.  We needn’t go that far!  Just cut back your invasive plants before they get a grip on surrounding living things.  And if you are contemplating using any of these invasive plants, look for a native plant substitute.    The Maryland Coastal Bays Program website (www.mdcoastalbays.org) contains an excellent native plant guide.

While we are talking about plants, consider leaving the clover you find in your yard alone.  Why?  Well, because it is pretty when it blooms; it is green and may contain 4-leaf clovers; and, most importantly, honeybees love it and we all know that our honeybees need all the help they can get.

Barb Coughlan
Environment & Natural Assets Advisory Committee
bactoyou@verizon.net

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