Summer

THE WEEDS OF SUMMER

In early spring, the understory wildflowers to advantage of the sun filtering down through bare tree branches to put on their breath-taking annual show. By mid summer, the forest floor is thickly shaded and the color comes from mushrooms and ripening berries. Out in the in the meadows and swamps, and along the roads, however, the summer bloomers are making the most of the August sun.

As a suburban walker, my “beat” is the tiny wild areas along roadsides, between the lots, and behind the parking lots. It’s amazing how much of the summer manages to squeeze into these untended spaces. Many of the denizens are aliens of at least mid-level invasiveness. Some are natives.

The question with the aliens is our ability to restore the wild lands to their pre-Columbian status. Laudably, many try to fight the tide with laws against the continuing sale of the worst invaders and massive clean-up projects on protected lands. Some feel that “rooting out” the entrenched invaders is a hopeless task. To name just a few, how can we ever clear all of the woods of Norway maples

and winged euonymus (euonymus alatus) all of the streams of loosestrife, and all of roadsides of Porcelainberry, and Asiatic Bittersweet?

We can stop new invaders by refusing to plant them in our gardens. We can protect the native treasures being overwhelmed in the wilds by turning our gardens in “gene banks” for them. In the wilds, we can, with continuing vigilance, save some space for the original flora.

Meanwhile, we can enjoy the beauty along the roadsides, regardless of origin. If you’re harboring the easily-spread aliens; it’s important to dead head them before the birds and wind can spread their seeds. The reverse is true of the natives. Leave the seeds for continued interest, often through the winter, and for the birds’ lunch. And let’s hope they do spread back into the wilds.