In my neck of the woods, farms have been subdivided for housing and open shrub and grasslands, where they still exist, have been allowed to regrow as forests.

For a quarter of a century, I have hacked away at about an acre of old field beside my house to prevent succession from meadow to shrub to trees. In the process, I have removed some invasive shrubs like knotweed, autumn olive, roses and barberry and even some natives like sumac and chokecherry.  But I have disturbed the soil enough to permit other invasives to flourish.

The balance tipped some years ago between what I could control through the practice of mowing sections of the field and where my efforts were being overtaken. I would need to mow an expanding area of field for as far into the future as I could foresee and still not contain the bittersweet. This year I discovered patches of black swallowwort as well. Poison ivy had crept out from under the white pines along the eastern boundary to encroach on the beehives. It was not large-leafed leggy bits that could be pulled in long strings from the loose pine needles. It was tiny branches each grabbing tight to the soil as it moved into the sunlight. The situation seemed hopeless.

But I have a new plan of action that is to use a dreaded translocation herbicide on the invasives throughout the field and to inventory the many typical native wildflowers and vines not yet overtaken. I hope to ensure a healthy habitat for the many insects, birds and mammals already using the meadow and to learn more about the flora and fauna for whom such places are disappearing in the process.

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