A team of enthusiastic Carleton students helped turn a field of DSV into a wildflower meadow…

by Sandy Garland

Just across the canal from the FWG, Carleton University has been a good neighbour to us over the years. Most recently, students have been volunteering at the garden during their annual Carleton Serves day in the fall as well as through a Days of Service program. Last Tuesday, a dozen students joined our regular Tuesday in the Woods group.

We wanted to be sure to use such a willing crew effectively, so we decided to tackle the would-be “milkweed field” north of the Old Woodlot. Over the years, we’ve planted donated milkweeds and plants grown from seeds here, but the field is still dominated by Dog-strangling Vine (DSV).

Last summer, we spread a large tarpaulin over the middle of the field next to a group of Common Milkweeds. So, the first job our Carleton students took on was moving that tarp to cover another mass of DSV.

A slow but efficient way to get rid of invasive species: block out the light.

Luckily, the tarp had done its work and no DSV (or anything else) was growing under it. Yay! Time to plant some “good stuff.” And the students did: more Common Milkweeds, New England Asters, Grass-leaved Asters, Upland White Goldenrod, and more.

Replanting with native wildflowers also seems slow at first, but it doesn’t take long for them to spread.

While our stallwort crew of regular volunteers scythed and pulled DSV in other parts of the field, the students weeded around all the existing milkweeds, freeing them from tangles of DSV.

One of our regular volunteers, Catherine, worked with the students to free milkweeds planted in previous years.

Two students posing with “Swallowwort Mountain” – the DSV they pulled from around milkweeds and trees.

An Eastern Comma (see the white punctuation mark on its wing?) enjoying nectar from a sweet-smelling Common Milkweed.

As you can see from the smiling faces on Carleton team members at the top of this page, they really enjoyed the afternoon. In fact, they’ve asked to come back! We’re looking forward to working with these energetic young people again in August.

Thanks also to the FWG volunteers who are regulars on Tuesday afternoon. Tim, Derek, and Peter are avid scythers, Denis and Claudette are meticulous weeders, Catherine, Michelle, and Melanie are becoming pros at this and immediately recognize what needs to be done. Cate, who was new this afternoon, used pulled DSV to “mulch” around trees and prevent regrowth. And another new volunteer, Gilles, boosted morale with his good humour. Of course, the cookies helped too.