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A restored area of woodland, formerly a tangle of bittersweet, barberry and burning bush. Photo by Dee Salomon

Into The Woods, Together

The Ungardener

As many readers of this column know, I have been working in the woods, fields and marshes on my property for about a dozen years, eliminating invasive plants and encouraging native species to grow. Along the way I have made many mistakes; some merely embarrassing, such as thinking the invasive narrowleaf bittercress was young fern, for example. I nurtured these superspreader weeds for several weeks until it was obvious that they were imposters (we have memorialized this gaffe by naming this plant ‘fake fern’). The regrettable mistakes almost always emanate from not tackling an invasive earlier. If I had removed the stiltgrass in the swamp when I first spotted it about four years ago, for example, I would be in a much better place figuratively and literally. I wish someone had warned me!

One of the things that has changed since I started this endeavor is the considerable improvement of information and the technology to easily retrieve it. Cases of mistaken identity can be minimized now that we have apps like PictureThis. Instagram and YouTube consolidate fascinating video instruction from people all over the country engaged in this kind of work. Still, people invite me to stroll (or, more often, bushwhack) with them through their woods and property and prescribe a way to begin. I love doing this more than almost any other aspect of the work. Every woodland has its own character, even when infiltrated by invasives. Pointing out the good within; the types of trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers, their arrangement, the beauty and habitat they create almost always inspires people to start a process of discovery that includes eliminating invasive species.

Maybe some of you are already doing this work. For those of you who want to experience your own woodland rebirth you are in luck. Now is the perfect time to begin, for two reasons: first, as most plants are still dormant you have a clear view into the current state of your woodland .

And here is the second reason — in partnership of the Lakeville Journal we invite you to join fellow Ungardener readers in making your woodland a more enjoyable place for you, your family and native animal species by joining my Spring ‘Into the Woods’ Workshop. The goal is to help you restore and reclaim access to your woodland in a way that is safe, effective and as easy as possible. Tools should cost no more than $100.

There is no charge for this series which will include step-by-step monthly guides timed to get the best outcomes, answers to your submitted questions and invitations to site visits as we bring this series to life through IRL (that’s ‘in real life’) events. We will bring in subject matter experts when we can and include links to useful videos for hands-on instruction.

Sound interesting? Here’s what to do:

Send an email to dee@theungardener.com and let me know that you are interested in joining.

Please fill me in on three things:

1. Are you a beginner or if you have done this kind of work before?

2. Do you own woodland property that is overrun with invasive species? If not, would you want to help on another property such as on a land trust?

3. If you can identify them, what are the most problematic species you encounter in your woods?

I hope that we can gather even a small group of us, and effect change in our local woodland.

Sign up, ask questions, and let’s begin!

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