Return of the non-natives

Most of the meadow looks innocent these days. It’s short and green where the cool-season grasses are growing. It’s disorganized and brown in the warm-season areas where those grasses are just staring to grow. But that’s not the whole story.

Meadow in spring

Skunk cabbage greens up the bog. The blueberries have pink flower and fruit buds. The clethra bushes are not yet in leaf but they stand tall above the debris of last years’ Joe-Pye weed, asters and goldernrod that take over the boggy parts by mid summer.

But the invasives can’t resist corrupting the scene. Barberry bushes that resisted the douse of triclopyr have leaves. Bittersweet tentacles that hid in the grasses have buds. Leaves are open on Autumn olive branches where there were no plants six weeks ago. Tiny Japanese knotweed stems have pushed through the ground on the western slope. Black swallow wort — the last to appear — is above ground.

One of two wheel barrows of bittersweet roots

At the end of March, I pulled or clipped two wheelbarrow’s worth of bittersweet stems from the upper bog. Ten days ago I removed one more. Today I pulled bittersweet from the Bayberry heath and made a mental note of the places where I missed some colonies. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a few more hours of pulling in before the period of innocence ends.

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