Seed Bombs to create wildlife habitat
What do you do when your neighbor’s yards are full of invasive plants that spread relentlessly into your wildlife garden, and they (almost) never mow to cut these plants back?
I have chosen to seed bomb them with seeds from the three native plants that have found the conditions in my garden very good for them to spread happily through my garden and are tough enough to do battle with the spread of the invasive plants.
One of my tough native plants is the Wood Poppy, which blooms in early spring. I diligently cut off all of the seed pods when they were just about ready to open and tossed the seeds into both yards on either side of mine. I’m hoping that next spring we’ll have more Wood Poppies and less Lesser Celandine. My little seed bombs of Wood Poppy seed heads made me very happy.
Last summer I had to rip out my entire wildlife garden and start over again from scratch because the invasive plants had gotten out of control and taken dominance in my garden.
Thanks to help from my young, strong nephew Lucas, we spent several days pulling and cutting and pulling some more until my Ecosystem Garden was down to bare dirt. We left only my three really tough native plants, and several others that we were able to separate from the invasive plant jungle.
The small yard on the southeast side of my garden has never been used by the current occupant. It sits neglected and sad and becomes a jungle of invasive Morning Glory, English Ivy, and Sweet Autumn Clematis vines as the season progresses. These invasive vines strangle everything in their path.
In early spring this yard is a solid carpet of invasive Lesser Celandine, which if you’ve ever tried to remove you’ve found that this plant produces thousands of tiny little bulbs underground, with little hope of removing all of them. I know. I’ve tried to keep my wildlife garden clear of this insidious plant for 13 years now. A thankless task, but the Lesser Celandine makes a thick carpet and prevents any of my spring ephemerals from emerging.
After the flush of Lesser Celandine passes this garden is taken over by lots of aggressive weeds, which are then entwined with all of the invasive vines.
Happily, the daughter of the woman who lives here just sent someone to mow and cut back all of the invasive vines for the first time in over 2 years.
So I took the opportunity to plant some clumps of one of my prolific native plants, Gray’s Sedge along the fenceline on her side of the garden. The Gray’s Sedge produces thick clumps and spreads quickly. And once established, it blocks other plants from taking hold. This woodland sedge is host plants of two woodland butterflies, Satyrodes eurydice (Eyed Brown) and Satyrodes appalachia (Appalachian Brown).
The large property on the northwest side of my house has been abandoned for several years now. And even while the previous owner lived there no effort was made to maintain the garden area except for an occasional mowing. And I have been happily tossing seed bombs in this area for several years now.
The invasive Norway Maples continued to drop large limbs and branches every time we had a storm, which the guy who mowed had piled up into a huge brush pile.
Invasive vines like Sweet Autumn Clematis and English Ivy had tried to choke out my native shrubs and trees. Invasive groundcovers like Japanese Stiltgrass, Ground Ivy, Bishop Weed, and Creeping Jenny. And raspberry canes and invasive Mulberry had cropped up everywhere.
This yard was mostly shaded by invasive Norway Maples trees and new seedlings had to be pulled by the hundreds every year in my garden.
We had a bit of a trauma earlier this spring when a dangerous contractor, a butcher with a chainsaw, arrived at this property. He informed us that the property had been sold in sheriff sale and the new owner was going to fix it up to resell it.
His crew spent 2 days with weed whackers cutting the whole mess back, then the nightmare portion began as he used very dangerous methods to cut down most of the invasive Norway Maples, such as not using any safety ropes, but just allowing large limbs to fall on our electric wires and into my garden.
Because I expressed my concern about his methods and the damage he was doing to my garden, he expressed his contempt for anything I had to say by cutting down all of the trees and shrubs I had planted in the “buffer zone” and using his large crane and a bulldozer to destroy everything else I had planted there.
But that was several months ago now, and no more work has been undertaken on this abandoned property. Except two weeks ago two guys showed up with weed whackers and cut everything back again. And now it sits neglected again.
But my Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) is setting its abundant seed right now, so I have taken to snipping off the seed heads and using them as seed bombs in my neighbors yards. This perennial sunflower-like plant is a magnet for native bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, and the birds love to eat the seeds.
We spent this weekend pulling weeds, collecting seed heads, and tossing our seed bombs. And were rewarded for our hard labor by a Red Admiral butterfly sipping from a sap flow in a shrub in the front garden.
So now I’ve spread the Grays Sedge, the Wood Poppy, and the Cutleaf Coneflower throughout these two neglected gardens via my seed bombing methods. And I also added seeds from my Swamp Milkweed to both gardens as well. I already know these native plants are tough enough to hold their own against the onslaught of invasive plants.
I’d rather have native plants that create habitats for wildlife thriving and (hopefully) holding back the invasive plant thugs that are constantly threatening to overrun my wildlife garden again. I’d really like to have more time enjoying the beautiful wildlife in my Ecosystem Garden and less time spent in hard labor trying to control the spread of invasive plants from my neighbors yards.
So I am seed bombing my neighborhood with native plants. It’s guerrilla gardening at its finest
Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.
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