What a cheerful bunch, and it isn't just because they're going to lunch. They were pretty perky every time I drove by them. Joan tells me that they pulled 3 trucks full of Stiltgrass. Stiltgrass is an annual invasive weed. Almost all of its seeds germinate every year so there isn't any appreciable seed bank. Removing it from an area at this time of year means no seeds, or at least very few seeds, and that translates into nowhere near as much Stiltgrass in this area next year.
Americorps is a National Service Organization whose members perform a range of services including Environmental Cleanup. That's what this crew did today. When I first returned to the Arboretum in 2004, I heard legendary stories of the remarkable stamina and accomplishments of a prior Americorps group. I don't know if these guys can wear Tyvek Suits for 8 hours at 95 F, but they sure did pull some Stiltgrass.
The "full day" project this week was on the New York Avenue slope along the north edge of the Gotelli Collection (or the south side of New York Avenue). Its a steep slope, too steep for mowing and not really part of the Gotelli Collection. Parts of it have not been tamed in the memory of current employees. Well....the slope is being addressed in its entirety now. Group projects, new equipment, herbicide, and a firm resolve have all combined to make the slope as presentable as it has been, well, in a long time. Carol is a regular Gotelli volunteer; she pitched in. Pat removed masses of English Ivy and Japanese Honeysuckle. Michael ran a walk-behind bushhog, and I don't what everybody else did, but it looks good.
And of course Asian Collections had our own mini-project. Amanda, Nate, Neal, and I continued our crusade to cleanse the area between the Hamamelis Collection, the Asian tool shed, and Hickey Hill Road. We removed many Viburnums, much Osmanthus, some Tetradium, and cut English Ivy off a number of trees. At some point during the day I realized that the conifers, many of which are Chamaecyparis species or selections, are planted on a grid. The whole areas is an overgrown nursery turned plantation. A quick look at Google Earth makes this pretty obvious. Hey, it only took me two days working there to notice it. I guess I didn't see the plantation for the trees.
I spent most of the day polesawing dead limbs from Conifers along the edge of this planting. That's whats in the Mitsubishi below. They looked pretty hideous from the road. At one point the dead branches were encased in Smilax. It's not perfect yet, but it looks much better. And the trunks of the Chamaecyparis are visible with wonderful reddish peeling bark. We'll be back next Wednesday.