Clearing the way for new plants

Cutting Norway maples at the Ladd Arboretum

Regular visitors to the Ladd Arboretum will notice a difference this week, after volunteers and a city greenways crew cleared invasive trees and shrubs along a section of the channel bank northeast of the Ecology Center. Clearing is a necessary step in re-creating diverse native habitat. Greg Williams is one of the regular volunteers. He has developed his skill with the bow saw over many years of volunteering with the North Branch Restoration Project.

Over the years since the arboretum’s 1960 dedication (seen in this photo from the Evanston Review), Ladd Arboretum in 1960many plants have grown up uninvited along the channel bank—especially European buckthorn, Asian honeysuckle, and Norway maple. All of these plants out-compete native trees and shrubs, and gradually the natural diversity of native habitat declines—along with the diversity of birds and other wildlife that evolved with indigenous plants. With these aggressive plants out of the way, we will have room to plant a wider variety of native shrubs, grasses and flowers, and small trees.