The Woodland Restoration Projects
at Fresh Pond Reservation
Every year as cold weather approaches, the volunteers in the Woodland Restoration Projects can be found hard at work on Tuesday mornings preparing the area for winter. Tasks include hauling leaves for mulch, propping up cages to protect plants from hungry rabbits, digging up late-sprouting weeds, and pruning damaged and weak branches. Eventually the temperature drops far enough that the ground freezes and our fingers become numb – then we reluctantly put away our tools and say good-bye to our project until spring. I imagine that by the time we stop working, our bodies are thinking “thank goodness.” because the work we do involves a great deal of heavy labor. Tired muscles do need a rest.
This has been our fourth full growing season cultivating the approximately half acre of land bordering the Perimeter Road on the north side of the Pond that we call “the Habitat,” and our tenth year in the adjacent area we call “the Corner.” Every year we face challenges, old and new. This year’s biggest challenge was drought: three summer months with almost no rain. Some plants seemed not to notice, many suffered, and a few died But by the time rain began to fall in October, the area was burgeoning with green vegetation, the woody plants had grown noticeably, and asters were producing large swaths of white flowers in the woods.
As in previous years, Vince Falcione, Reservoir System Manager for the Cambridge Water Department, helped us in major ways: by buying plants, by making improvements, and by helping us protect the area. In May he bought us more than 100 woody plants, grasses and ferns that we had requested. He replaced our old gray wagon, whose wheels were failing, with a new bright red one that we can pull with ease. He provided irrigation every week and his men kept our rain barrels filled so that we could hand-water where needed. He had his arborists remove a number of dead or leaning trees that we considered hazardous and non-natives that do not belong in the area. In October he replaced our temporary fence with a sturdy new one and three real gates that will help keep out dogs and trespassers. As leaves began falling, he had the grounds crew give us several truckloads of leaves they had collected from paths and lawns around the Reservation. From the large pile they left outside the fence, we gathered many bags full to spread around plants and on bare areas to protect the ground from freezing. By next spring the remaining leaves in the pile will have broken down to produce excellent mulch for new plantings. Vince also bought us many rolls of poultry netting and a year’s supply of Bobbex-R to help protect our vulnerable vegetation from the large population of voracious rabbits that inhabit the surrounding woods and find our native plants to be delicious.
Our summer jobs consisted of weeding; planting new plants, both purchased and donated (see lists, below), and transplanting from areas of dense growth to new areas; building and repairing cages, attaching a rabbit barrier along the base of the new fence, spreading leaves, and watering, watering, watering and more watering.
This year we added a total of about 440 plants to the Habitat. New species included Gray Birch (Betula allegheniensis), Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana), Mountain Mint, (Pycnanthemum muticum), Sweet Gale (Myrica gale), Rattlesnake Root (Nabolis trifoliata), and seven species of grasses and sedges. This brings the total number of plant species in the area to about 190, only 14 of which are non-native (aka “weeds.”)
Our dedicated volunteers worked more than 770 hours both in the Habitat and Corner and at other jobs related to maintaining the restoration projects.
2016 Volunteers: Penny Adams, Richard Bosel, Suzanna Black, Russ Cohen, Pamela Hart, Susan Kaufman, Betsy Meyer, Ilse Peter, Rebecca Ramsay, Gerard Teichman, Martine Wong, Elizabeth Wylde, Candace Young
Plants Added to the Woodland Habitat in 2016
(Names in bold type are new species for the area)
Purchased by Cambridge Water Dept. from New England Wetland Plants
Plants from Elizabeth’s Backyard Nursery