Monday, March 10, 2008

Live Stakes Today, Shrubs Tomorrow

Thanks to yesterday's habitat restoration session at Mountain Lakes, the invasive shrubs are less legion, and some thirty new native shrubs now have a foothold in the valley just up from the lakes. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon for working outside. The high winds left over from yesterday's storm front sailed high overhead.

We lopped the invasive bush honeysuckles and multflora rose bushes off at the ground, pulling many of the smaller honeysuckles completely out by the root. The more massive invasives were left in place as nifty protective cages into which we could plant the native shrubs, which took the form of live stakes.

A live stake, as I never tire of explaining because it's such an elegant way to create new plants, is a two foot cutting taken from a dormant, fully grown shrub. You then stick the bottom end into the soft late-winter soil and cut off all but a couple sets of buds above ground. Then wait for spring, when roots form below ground and leaves above. It would be highly convenient if all native shrubs were so cooperative, but only three species root on their own in this manner: silky dogwood, buttonbush and elderberry. All three can be found growing in the wet ground along streams. We planted the first two kinds.

Thanks to Clark, Steven and Annarie and her two children for their help and good company.

Another session is planned for this coming Sunday, March 16.

1 comment:

  1. I like your phrase "such an elegant way to create new plants".

    Also, there's no cash outlay, and the project can be stated and finished in a day or so.

    I planted red osier dogwood stakes last year, and am eager to see if they survived the winter.