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Monthly Archives: August 2012

For the record, since I have not been keeping good records, I started spraying in mid July. By Bastille Day, I had dispensed 32 gallons of Triclopyr. See the group photo before the containers went into the dump.

Herbicide portrait

Each container makes 8 gallons of  herbicide. (The 5th container was an empty from last year. I triple rinse each container as I do the mixing so I can recycle the canisters.)

Thirty-two gallons was not enough to spray all the Bittersweet and Black swallow wart that had emerged by July. After a break of a couple of weeks, I did a second round of spraying. I’m not sure how much Triclopyr I put down that time, maybe another 12 gallons.

The “praying” part of the process requires time. The label does not offer good guidelines on how long it will take to kill or dishearten the growing of the target plants but it is at least two weeks. Between my house guests, his camping trip, excessive heat and rain on work days, Nic was not able to start the post-praying tasks of pulling and cutting until early August.

I took a tour today. Despite the spraying and then the praying, Bittersweet is still there — popping up in the paths, entwined around some Goldenrod especially in the wetland, and otherwise sprinkled here and there. Black swallow wart crops up in places, mostly where I think I had not sprayed. But what a change. The old field is now variegated with a richer sampling of weedy growth. It looks truly mangy. I could not be happier. But I know it is only an interlude.

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Now in its second year, my garden of predominantly native plants is indeed attracting unusual wildlife. Take this Hummingbird moth for example. For most of July, it drank the nectar of the Monarda flowers (and I never got a better photo than this).

It looks more like a hummingbird than a moth. In fact, its Latin name is Hemaris thysbe which I may remember because thysbe sounds like thespian — a moth acting the part of a hummingbird.

Hummingbird moth (Hemaris thysbe)

“Susan,” Carl said, “has Dodder,” giving the word a spit. Lisa, for whom this was news, helpfully said, “Maybe it will go away next year.”

Dodder or Cuscuta is a parasitic plant in the morning glory family. The genus becomes rare in cool temperate climates. So climate change has brought me a rare parasite! If Lisa is right and we get a normal winter, maybe Dodder will not return next year.

Portrait of Dodder

But for this year, it has sprung into attack mode with Joe-Pye weed and goldenrod as its victims. On the first day of summer, when Carl identified the plant, its leafless orange stem (it has very little chlorophyll) had entwined only a few flower stalks.

Dodder on 1 July before taking off

It went from a tentative presence to attack mode, enfolding several patches of plants the lower marshy area of the meadow. And flowered.

Dodder with its creamy colored flowers and orange stems

That exchange between Carl and Lisa was enough to make Dodder removal Nic’s meadow assignment. By the time he went home that day in late July, he had filled 2 contractor’s bag’s with Dodder. By the time he finished removing all the Dodder, he had abandoned the bagging and created a mountain of Dodder that I’ll burn later in the season.

Bagged Dodder and remaining field presence

Dodder seeds are minute and produced in large quantities. A hard coating allows seeds to survive in the soil for 5–10 years or more. While the Dodder is in flower, it does not seem to have set seeds yet. Given the certainty that Dodder is something unwanted, Nic and I decided he would remove all the flower stalks with Dodder.

Another area cleared of Dodder

Area cleared of Dodder