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First work session with Master Gardener Volunteers

Piles of brush lining the parking lot at Bagaduce Music Lending Library’s campus testify to a very productive morning for Native Gardens of Blue Hill, April 28, 2016. With hand tools and two Master Gardener Volunteers—Linda Bohm and Arlene Witham —to help, we transformed the appearance of more than forty feet of the parking lot’s edge, “editing” back into the woods to depths of ten to twenty feet.​​

​​Heaps of saplings, seedlings and damaged trees were removed, along with congested fir thickets and weeviled white pines.* A handful of birches and oaks (in the foreground) were coppiced to encourage re-sprouting multiple basal shoots and fuller, shrubby growth ­— filling in some gaps.

The morning was accompanied by birdsong: goldfinches, a winter wren, several warblers. This encouraged the group to think about the habitat needs of specific birds. Brush piles tucked into the woods will provide shelter for the wrens, among others, and will eventually become seed banks. Magnolia warblers use mature white pines for nesting; generally pines support more than eighty species of insects, all useful sources of avian protein at this time of year. Seed-bearing forbs, and shrubs with fruit, will sustain the birds later in the season; and the shrubs and perennials and grasses eventually planted along this edge have been chosen accordingly for wildlife benefit.

A striped maple seedling was discovered—a good omen because this is a tree we want to use in several different parts of the design. A small patch of wintergreen was encouraged by the removal of some benighted firs—just a glimpse of the groundcover layer we hope to create.

Tony Aman came by late in the morning and cut down a few larger trees and hardwood suckers with a chainsaw. The crew went to Mainescape to look at NGBH’s pocket garden—a small area, which will be a backdrop for native plants on sale.


* Young pines growing in the open, in full sun, are more susceptible to the conifer twig weevil, Pissodes strobi, and that is apparent wherever the pines have seeded themselves thickly around the parking lot. Trees four to ten years old seem to be most vulnerable. The weevil causes a characteristic “shepherd’s crook” in the pine’s apical shoot—unsightly, but not fatal. Another insect, the eastern pine shoot borer, Eucosma gloriola, causes similar disfigurement, but is sometimes preyed upon by a useful parasitic wasp—an ichneumon of the Glypta genus. Ichneumon wasps’ larvae are eaten by finches.

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