The Woodland Restoration Projects
The “Habitat” and the “Corner”
at Fresh Pond Reservation
The year 2020 will be remembered by most people as a time of disrupted schedules, curtailed activities, and social anxiety. But for volunteers in Fresh Pond Reservation’s Woodland Habitat Projects, our Tuesday workdays were “business as usual.” We were readily able to continue our work of planting, weeding, watering, pruning and spreading mulch, even while wearing masks and social distancing. The satisfaction of helping create a habitat of native plants, the calming sensation of spending time in the woods, and the simple pleasure of physical labor combine to create a rewarding experience that draws us back week after week and year after year.
With this year’s travel limitations keeping us all close to home, we worked a record-breaking total of more than 1000 hours. Our main concern was with the drought that lasted from May through September and left us with a precipitation deficit of about 8 inches, 40 percent below average. Much of our time during that period was spent hauling water-filled gallon milk jugs in our trusty wagons. We focused on watering the plants we had added earlier in the spring, that had not had time to develop root systems extensive enough to survive dry conditions. To our relief, almost all of those plants survived and added new growth. Our watering efforts were enhanced by our addition around each plant of a skirt of leaf mold mulch from the enormous pile of leaves that was left for us last fall by the Water Department’s landscape crew. Leaves on the ground provide moisture retention, temperature control (summer and winter), weed control, and the release of essential nutrients into the soil: nature’s perfect plant care substance.
Most of our work this year was done in the quarter-acre area we call Richard’s woods. Volunteer Richard Bosel in 2017 cleared the woods of a near-monoculture of invasive common buckthorn, leaving an open understory – the equivalent of a blank canvas for an artist, and an irresistable opportunity for us gardeners. We started our planting efforts that fall by scattering the seeds of white wood asters and blue-stemmed goldenrods that were growing nearby in a similarly shady area. The following spring, native blue dooryard violets arrived in large numbers without our help. Later in the spring, we began planting trees and some shrubs. In 2019 and 2020 we added more trees and a variety of shrubs, ferns, and perennial wildflowers. A list of plants added in 2020 is included below.
Our work in the Corner and the rest of the Habitat also continued. Both of these areas have filled up with native vegetation we planted that does not leave much room for adding more plants. Our focus there was on pruning and the endless job of weeding out non-native and overly aggressive plants (especially ones with prickles that scratch us and seeds that stick to our clothing!)
January 28, 2021
2020 Volunteer Stewards: Suzanna Black, Richard Bosel, Julia Cella, Pamela Hart, Betsy Meyer, Chris Powers, Rebecca Ramsay, Maureen Urban, Rebeca Velie, Elizabeth Wylde, Candace Young
Thanks for the Support of Water Department Staff: Vince Falcione, Dave Kaplan, Brian Mulrenan, and Tim Puopolo, as well as the landscape crew members who delivered leaves to our leaf mulch piles.
Thanks to The Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation for covering the cost of various expenses, including the purchase of planting materials.
Thanks also to the volunteers who donated plants they purchased for the projects, donated plants they grew from seeds, and donated plants from their own gardens.
Plants Added to the Woodland Habitat Projects in 2020