Most of us who battle invasive plants don’t find them beautiful. Sometimes it takes an artist’s vision to see the world in a new way. On Saturday, July 15th from 1 – 4 o’clock The Plants of the James River Project will present The Art of Invasion, an exhibit of botanical art and a family-friendly opportunity to learn more about our native plant communities and the impact of invasives on them, enjoy guided walks, and make leaf rubbings and paper (from invasive plants of course!)
Join us at the James River Park Headquarters building, Reedy Creek Canoe Access,
4001 Riverside Drive, Richmond, VA 23225. For all the details:
James River Association is at the helm on Chapel Island, leading the invasive removal and habitat restoration work there the fourth Monday of every month. Capital Trees is now partnering with JRA on the monthly projects.
This past Friday (“Earth Day Eve”), JRA, Capital Trees, and the park system worked together on a special event on Chapel Island and in Great Shiplock Park with 70 Altria employees who spent a morning removing invasives, planting a whopping 600 native plants (from Garden Gate), and doing additional maintenance work.
Come on out and join JRA and Capital Trees on Monday, April 24th or a fourth Monday coming soon! Visit our global calendar and click on the day’s event for contact information. The more volunteers, the more we can accomplish.
The Task Force held several events to mark National Invasive Species Awareness Week that did just that: raising public awareness of the consequences to our park system of dense invasions of invasive herbaceous plants, vines, shrubs, and trees. The perpetually green carpets and tree-topping masses of wintercreeper and English Ivy and the pale green early leaf-out of Amur Honeysuckle in the understory dramatically display the harm done by these invaders that out-compete diverse native plant species.
Tree Stewards on Belle Isle, James River Association on Chapel Island, and Riverine Va. Master Naturalists at Pony Pasture led volunteer efforts on several days following a Saturday kick-off event at Pony Pasture that featured guided walks and removal demonstrations, the most popular of which by far was by RVA Goats. In areas overrun by monosystems of invasives where risk to native plant communities is little to none, goats are an excellent first phase of invasive management.
We focused our efforts on “Free A Tree” projects: severing vines at the base of trees and pulling up the deep roots immediately around them.
Trees overwhelmed by invasive vines are robbed of water and nutrients, struggle to photosynthesize as they should, and are weighed down by thick, hanging vines that can completely conceal a tree’s own branches.
We wrapped up our NISAW events last Friday at Pony Pasture where we got a surprise work crew: St. Christopher’s and St. Catherine’s students from biology and environmental science classes whose enthusiastic efforts helped us cap the week with significant progress (and laughs at their hijinks: mature native grape vines always make great swings!). We learned that their teachers, Dr. Austin Sutten and Mr. Billy McGuire, include education about invasive species in their curriculum and value the opportunity to match class instruction with hands-on field work. The JRPS is an ideal 600 acre outdoor classroom for incorporating invasive/native plant ecology into the foundation of science education.
Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped out during NISAW and we hope to see you in the park again soon!
5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP
Written by Meg Turner
Invasive plants can wreak havoc in your garden, and can also do damage in your neighbors’ yards and beyond, aggressively spreading by runners and by seed disbursal through air or wildlife. As the James River Park System Invasive Plant Task Force works to eradicate invasive species from the James River Park System, you can take these 5 steps to eradicate invasive plants in your own yard, creating a garden that is more beautiful and that provides pollen, nectar, food and shelter for wildlife.
Do no harm. When planting your garden, refer to the list of the most threatening invasive plant species in Virginia, and do not purchase or plant those plants. The list can be found on the Virginia Department of Conservation Resources website.
Remove any invasive plants living in your garden. Some of the most frequent invaders in Virginia home gardens are privet, Japanese honeysuckle, Japanese wisteria, garlic mustard, ground ivy and English ivy. When removing invasive plants, it is important to remove the entire plant, and, when possible, to remove the plant before it flowers or sets seed. For more information on removal techniques, visit this website.
Plant native trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, ferns and groundcovers in the places where you remove invasives. Invasive plants love a vacuum, and will fill it, so plant soon after invasive removal. Many nurseries now identify plants that are native, and some even have native plant sections. Planting natives in conditions where they will thrive will add a natural beauty to your landscape, help inhibit invasive plant growth, and increase wildlife habitat.
Remove English ivy growing in trees. If English ivy is left to grow into a tree’s canopy, it can eventually kill the tree. To save the tree, first use garden clippers to cut the vines around the base of the tree. If the vines are too thick to cut with clippers, you may need to use a saw, being careful not to harm the trunk. Leave the severed vines on the trunk, as removing them may harm the tree’s bark. Second, manually remove any ivy growing on the ground within two feet of the tree. This is easiest to do when the ground is moist. Periodically check your trees, and remove any ivy that reappears.
Spread the word!Ask your local nursery to stop selling plants that are on the DCR’s invasive plant list (bring a copy of the list to share with them). Host a neighborhood invasives workday, educating the neighbors about the dangers of invasive plants. Check the JRPS Invasive Plant Task Force schedule for volunteer opportunities to remove invasives in our beloved James River Park System.
Free a Tree!
Written by Madge Bemiss
English ivy (Hedera Helix) is an aggressive garden ground cover, but when allowed to grow vertically, its thick evergreen vines will actually choke and strangle trees. As ivy climbs in search of increased light, it engulfs and kills branches by blocking light from reaching the host tree’s leaves. Branch die back proceeds from lower to upper branches, often leaving the tree with just a small green “broccoli head.” The host tree eventually succumbs entirely from this insidious and steady weakening. In addition, the added weight of the vines makes infested trees much more susceptible to blow-over during high rain and wind events and heavy snowfalls. (Read more at https://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/hehe1.htm )
As a ground cover English ivy is not as big of an invasive threat because these plants stay in a juvenile phase and do not flower or set seed. Only plants growing vertically mature to flower and set seeds that are eaten by birds and spread to distant locations. Cutting down vines will save a tree, and prevent the potential spread of this invasive species.
In the James River Park System, English ivy and poison ivy often grow together. When cutting vines from trees, it’s important to be able to identify the roots – especially for winter work. Poison Ivy vines are just as toxic as the leaves — a hazard year-round.
With over 75% of the James River Park Systems covered in invasive species, it would be overwhelming for the JRPS Invasive Plant Task Force to take on the whole park at once. As a group, it was decided to focus on 4 focus areas to start with.
Belle Isle: Did you know Belle Isle is over 57 acres! This is one of the most visited and well known sections of JRPS. During the invasive plant survey a total of 26 invasive species were found. Of those, 6 are highly invasive. The Richmond Tree Stewards have been the lead organization for this area and lead weekly removals on Thursday mornings from 9am-Noon. Next time you’re out wandering the trails, see if you can notice where they’ve been working and keep an eye out for their educational signs.
Chapel Island: Many people haven’t visited this section of JRPS, but it is a real gem and quite different from other parts of the park in that it lies below the fall line. During the invasive plant survey a total of 18 invasive species were found. Of those, 8 are highly invasive. The James River Association has been the lead organization for this area and starting this year will be leading invasive removal days every fourth Monday from 1-3pm. Their main focus thus far has been on the eastern part of the island. As you wander the island see if you can notice a difference in how the eastern side differs from the western side of Chapel Island.
Pony Pasture:Most people have visited Pony Pasture and enjoyed sunning on the rocks, but you may not have noticed what plant life surrounded you. This over 95 acre area of the park has 21 invasive plant species that were identified during the invasive plant survey. Of those, 11 are highly invasive. The Riverine Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturlalists are the lead organization for Pony Pasture and lead regular removals there. Their main focus has been the area to the left of the kiosk at the parking lot. Keep an eye on their progress and tell them thank you if you see them working!
Reedy Creek: The JRPS Headquarters is within this 45 acre section of JRPS. A total of 23 invasive species were found during the invasive plant survey. Of those, 11 are highly invasive. The Friends of James River Park System are the lead organization for this section. Their focus area has been just east of the Nature Center along the access road. They started with a herd of goats that made a huge dent in the English Ivy there and made it easier for volunteers to come in afterwards and clip the roots off the trees.
If you want to become involved, please visit the JRPS Calendar for dates and registration.
Today’s post written by Laura Greenleaf, Virginia Master Naturalist
Before there was a Task Force, Richmond Tree Stewards had launched on Belle Isle what would become a feature project of the invasive management and habitat restoration initiative. In 2014, just a year after completing the rigorous Tree Steward training program, Catherine Farmer proposed a Tree Walk on the popular downtown park destination. The exploratory process that fall of identifying and labeling trees led to a reckoning when fellow Steward Suzette Lyon pointed out that with autumn leaves on the ground, everything still green was invasive.
A Tree Walk clearly fell within the Stewards core mission, but what about invasive species removal? The volunteer service organization recognized the clear threat invasive trees and other plants posed to the survival of diverse native tree species and green-lighted Farmer’s proposal with the understanding that getting results depended on targeted work, not tackling the entire island. She led the first invasive removal event in January 2015, one month before Tree Stewards met with Riverine Virginia Master Naturalists to discuss forming the Invasive Task Force.
Corporate and nonprofit grants, lots of volunteers, and support from park system staff, the city’s Department of Urban Forestry, and True Timber have made possible dramatic improvements along Belle Isle’s perimeter trail. Richmond Tree Stewards lead projects every Thursday morning and Farmer typically is on the island several times a week. Tree Stewards pioneered the crucial restoration phase of invasive management, planting regionally native understory trees and shrubs suitable to Belle Isle’s habitat such as Strawberry Bush, Eldeberry, and Button Bush to replace the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus), privet and other invasives that have become dominant. When asked what motivates her to continue this work that never ends Catherine Farmer replied, “We see progress all over the island and that keeps us going . . . every tree I free from invasive vines or prune to encourage healthy growth rewards me. That’s the payback.”