Good Guys versus Bad Guys!

Driftwood Garden Club of Marblehead members gathered at the Abbot Public Library to listen and learn about native plants versus invasive species. The Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG) defines invasive plants as “non-native species that have spread into native or minimally managed plant systems in Massachusetts.  These plants cause economic or environmental harm by developing self-sustaining populations and becoming dominant and/or disruptive to those systems.”    

In the presentation by Suzanne Mahler, who has been sharing her passion for gardening for more than 30 years, we learned that many invasive plant species alter the surrounding soil to make it more difficult for native plants to survive. Suzanne described various ways to battle invasive plants and reminded us that those should only be disposed of in your trash, not in the compost pile!

Bad Guys, definitely bad guys, include: garlic mustard, creeping Charlie, buckthorn, barberry, burning bush, bittersweet, Japanese honeysuckle, purple loosestrife, phragmite common reed, and Japanese knotweed.

Invasive Japanese knotwood is definitely a bad guy!

Some Good Guys, very good guys, include: native aster, coreopsis, turtlehead, beebalm, Joe Pye weed, sweet pepper clethera, winterberry holly, American dogwood, red cedar juniper, milkweed, bloodroot, black-eyed Susan, phlox, and liatris.

A Good Guy – Common milkweed is an important source of food for monarch butterflies.

Presenter Suzanne Mahler recommends several resources: grownativemass.org; www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife; www.mass.gov/service-details/invasive-plants, as well as visiting the Garden in the Woods, home of the Native Plant Trust, in Framingham, MA.

According to Garden in the Woods, “The ultimate goal for the ecological gardener is a beautiful garden that provides year-round interest, supports local wildlife, absorbs and filters rainwater, and improves air quality.” 

So let’s plant more Good Guys!