The Prescott Journal - September 10, 2003
By Astrid Strader, Project Supervisor, Horticulturist, and Garden Designer
There will be a special educational presentation Thursday, Sept. 11 at 9:30 am at the medical centre meeting room. Chris Bellemore of the Grenville Land Stewardship Office, Ministry of Natural Resources, is presenting information on opportunities for new planting programs, which could directly benefit this town. As well, the reasons why these planting programs are important and what it will take to make them successful over the long run. I am excited to have an opportunity to work with Chris this fall, in preparing to plant some major areas in town. Come out and be informed.
We are also pleased to have the opportunity to landscape the firehall building corner. This will be a space Fire Chief Bill Lawrence says "everyone is invited to enjoy." Barry Moorhouse, volunteer firefighter, explained, "This parkette is in honour of firehall neighbour and keen supporter, Orville Christie, who passed away last year."
The addition of topsoil to bring grade up level to the surface of the pathways at the River Heritage Trail is well under way.
The aim is to have a six-foot grassy strip on either side of all the trails. We'll be planting grass seed and it will always be kept neat and mowed.
There is a mound of cleared soil near the west end of the paved trail. Buckwheat has been planted there. It is a popular cover crop which gets turned into the soil in the spring to provide nourishment to the soil. Sometimes, it's referred to as green manure or living mulch, keeping weeds and erosion down. It also encourages earthworms, which bring up nutrients from the soil for plants. Other good green manures are winter rye, wheat, vetch, clover, and alfalfa, which I have just sowed in parts of my garden. A "rule of thumb" is if you feed the soil, the soil, in turn, feeds the plants. The selection of plants for this area will be native grasses - planted in such a way to show off their best form, with labeling to identify them. While we're down at the waterfront, strollers-by will often ask us why we're not mowing the ragweed down - it is after all, hay fever season (from which I also suffer).
I've observed most people refer to our lovely goldenrod or solidago as the dreaded ragweed. Ambrosia trifida, an annual, known commonly as Great Ragweed is of course, the main source of hay fever, releasing major amounts of very fine pollen into the wind, which is the irritant.
Goldenrod's pollen is far too heavy to travel in the wind, and it deserves a spot in the garden as a beautiful fall flowering perennial, looking particularly good with another native, purple aster.
To easily tell the two apart, you can look at the leaves. Ragweed's leaves are three- to five-lobed with three prominent veins, hence trifida in its name.
Goldenrod's leaves are straight and narrow and the flowers are bright gold. Ragweed's flowers are greenish-yellow, growing in a more bottlebrush style. Since ragweed is the only real troublesome plant at the waterfront, spraying herbicides to indiscriminately kill off all the broad leaf plants would be drastic and harmful, leaving bare ground for unbalanced weed infestations to occur.
Many birds feed on the seeds of plants in this area, not to mention the harmful residues coming into contact with doggie paws and being washed into the water. But what we can do, because it's an annual, is pull the weed before going to seed.
This gentler method is how we all can replace the more extreme measures of weed control. Correctly identifying your plants is key. We'll show you how and your support will certainly help make our work lighter.