August Gardening 2015

by Jane Ahrens
Fishers Island Parade Ground ~ JTAhrens Photo
Fishers Island Parade Ground ~ JTAhrens Photo

From Mélie’s Garden

I always think of August as the cutback, deadhead and weeding month. These tasks need to be done to keep plants blooming and looking vibrant into the fall. Fishers Island’s first frost is usually early November, so the fall is a lovely time for the garden. Deadhead flowers and trim back foliage that looks tired. Even plants in containers need a cut and a good feeding of fish emulsion to rejuvenate them in their pots. And it is especially important to keep weeding because weeds will steal water from plants. You should also keep an eye out for invasive plants that you do not want on your property and get rid of them ASAP!

On July 18th I went on a most informative walk in the Parade Ground with Prof. Doug Tallamy and PhD Candidate Adam Mitchell, who pointed out invasive species and native species of flora that grow on Fishers Island. We walked on the trails through the beautiful 30-acre grassland, which has been managed by The Conservancy for the Ferry District. The paths are not only lovely to walk on but as the informative sign at the entrance states, “provide burn barriers and enclose habitat for birds and other critters”. Also on the sign, are five photographs of the most invasive Asian plants that are growing on Fishers Island. They are the least wanted plants to have on your property. (Click on any photo below to see a larger image).

  • Black Swallow-Wort (Cynanchum louiseae )
  • Porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata)
  • Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
  • Japanese Clematis (Clematis terniflora)
  • Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)

All of these plants are very difficult to get rid of and Doug Tallamy and Adam Mitchell recommend cutting down the plants and painting the stems very carefully with Garlon 4 (Triploclyr). This method is much safer than spraying foliage, which can spread to other plants. There is a very informative website about invasive plants that the FI Conservancy recommends: National Park Service: Alien Plants


I have also learned that some “home made organic remedies” are not as safe as described. Two books I recommend, in addition to the website, are “How To Eradicate Invasive Plants” by Teri Dunn Chace and “The Truth About Garden Remedies (What Works and What Doesn’t and Why) By Jeff Gillman.

Of course the safest way to get rid of a plant is to dig it out, but unfortunately some of the most invasive ones are almost impossible to dig out because their roots break in the process and they happily send up new plants. I am sure that the Black Swallow-Wort on my property is going to strangle me in my bed one night without major intervention.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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