In our woods, we are playing catch up with controlling the invasive species that like to reappear every time we turn our back (or go out of town for three weeks). Specifically, we been tackling the bush honeysuckle, osage orange and multiflora wild roses. Don't all those plants have lovely names? Don't be fooled by them. They are crazy, and meddlesome, and nearly impossible to get rid of.
Most days, we head out shortly after breakfast with our shovel, clippers, chainsaw and loppers. If we can dig the plant out, Ed digs – and I pull. If it is too big or too stubborn, Ed clips or chainsaws it down to the ground – and I apply the smallest amount of stump killer. Hate to use the herbicide, but if we just clip the target plant, it comes back with a vengeance.
Our work has several upsides. It improves not only the health of our forests, but also of us: it's great exercise. It's satisfying: there is something about getting rid of pesky plants so native plants can thrive. And, perhaps best of all, we get to know our woods intimately as we slowly work our way over every square inch of our farm. Almost every time we go out, we discover something of interest. This week, we came upon a bush aptly called Hearts-a-Bustin'. On its now bare limbs hang the most beautiful pink and red fruit/seed. In an otherwise neutral forest, the color pops – making my heart almost bust with joy.
Turns out there is a song about this bush by country music singer and songwriter Billy Joe Shaver. Here's a link to the song, sung by one of our all-time favorites: Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Like most country songs, it's all about being lonesome.
Hearts-a-Bustin' is a beautiful flower
That looks like its heart burst inside
I miss you so much, your sweet gentle touch
I'll love you till the day that I die.
We spent this afternoon walking our fields with Margaret Shea, owner of Dropseed Native Plant Nursery, located in Goshen, KY. The mission of the nursery is to provide high-quality, local-genetic plant material for restoration and landscape projects. We met Margaret this past weekend when we stopped by Dropseed and bought two persimmon trees, one yellowwood tree and one wild plum tree. She agreed to come out to Farm Dover and give us some recommendations for how we might continue to improve our fields of native grasses and wildflowers. Today, she mostly just walked around our fields and talked with us about our vision for them. She has promised to follow up with her recommendations. Can't wait to see what she comes up with.
And I began digging up my old strawberry bed. After five productive seasons, the plants had grown too dense and the bed needed to be rejuvenated. But the old plants looked so healthy once I had dug them up and separated them that I didn't have the heart to just dump them onto the compost pile. So, as an experiment, I planted 45 of them in a corner of my big garden. Won't know until spring if this was a good idea or not.
I've got three bales of straw to put down in my garden in the continued hope that it helps keep the summer weeds at bay. Ideally I'd like to put down plain cardboard before the straw, but I've yet to find a supply of brown corrugated boxes that need recycling. Let me know if you have some you could provide for this project.
The days are getting shorter and colder, but our list of outdoor projects is still long. I'm grateful for every day that we can get outside and work our woods, fields and gardens. It makes my heart want to bust!