By Cheryl Harrison, Master Gardener
Well, yes … I am, but I have a plan. February 28-March 4/22 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week. This is an international event whose purpose is to raise the awareness of invasive species. “Invasive terrestrial plants in a forest ecosystem can be trees, shrubs, or herbaceous plants that have been moved from their native habitat to an introduced area where they are able to reproduce quickly and crowd out native species. These plants are introduced and spread by infested packaging material, seed dispersal by both environmental and human sources, or by escaping from gardens.” Also look at Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program for more information.
Biodiversity is essential to the continued healthy life of an ecosystem. Invasive plants can quickly destroy it and humans require the natural resources found in a healthy ecosystem. We need food and we need water to survive. We are a part of the ecosystem too. Doug Tallamy says it best in his book, “Bringing Nature Home” where he writes “…ecosystems with more species function with more efficiency, are better able to withstand disturbances, are more productive, and can repel alien invasions better than ecosystems with fewer species.”
I became aware of invasive species about 15 years ago when on my walk to work, I noticed some English ivy (Hedera helix) growing in a small wooded area. Then, I realized that English ivy had totally carpeted that area. There were no other plants! A couple of years later, I saw the same thing but this time, it was a larger forested area and the culprit was goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria). Since then I have read more about invasive plants and, sadly, now often see problem areas.
So, back to my plan. I was aware of some of the invasive herbaceous perennials so had steered away from them. See terrestrial plants and aquatic plants for more information. However, my husband and I are tree lovers and have a rural property so we frequently indulge in purchasing new trees to add to our collection. Unfortunately, we ended up with two Norway maple (Acer platanoides) trees, two burning bush (Euonymus alatus) and a barberry (Berberis thunbergii) shrub. This year, I plan to convince my husband that they must go. I would like to replace the trees with two red maple (Acer rubrum) or perhaps a couple of sugar maple ((Acer saccharum). The burning bush will be replaced by a couple of native viburnum maybe nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) and the barberry, well, it will be replaced by a native bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera). See Southern Ontario Grow me Instead Beautiful Non-invasive Plants for Your Garden. This is a great resource. It includes some native and some non-native plants to include in your garden plans.
I am inspired to be a better gardener every time I write a blog for the Peterborough & Area Master Gardeners. I hope that you will have a look at some of the links above and below and be inspired too. Please only use non-invasives in your gardening plans this year.
I also recommend reading, or re-reading, a blog by Laura Gardner, Master Gardener in Training posted on February 2/2022: Expanding Your Native Garden Palette. For more information on what to do if you have a problem, see Best Management Practices Data Base .
A new group on Facebook is the Canadian Coalition for Invasive Plant Regulations. The group is very concerned about the spread of invasive plants in Canada and would like to do something about it.