Pollinator Gardening: In Praise of Summersweet (Sweet Pepperbush)

I spent sometime this morning enjoying the sweet-pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) in my yard, taking in its heavenly scent and watching the many bumblebees visiting the plant. I have to say that it is one of my favorite shrubs for pollinators. It is one of our few native shrubs that blooms in late summer, with prolific spikes of showy white flowers in early August and a scent strong enough to carry on the breeze. It’s a great plant for eco landscaping, with a neat, showy appearance even when not in flower and with winter interest as well. Sweet-pepperbush can grow in sun and shade, and likes some soil moisture. There are thus lots of cultivars of this plant to choose from, but I find the straight native version to be just as beautiful. Sweet-pepperbush is native to Coastal Maine, although it is not found in our part of the Midcoast area.

We chose this plant for our new demonstration shrub planting at the Wales Park pollinator garden, where you can see it in bloom right now, along with other attractive native shrubs including meadowsweet, common elderberry, sweetfern, spicebush and redosier dogwood. The garden is a great place to start learning about pollinator plants. We recently completed most of our plantings and have labeled all the plants. We have also made a map and key for the garden. A guided tour of our pollinator garden will be offered August 27th from 10am to 4pm by the Belfast Garden Club Open Gardens event; see their website for more information.

Wales Park Pollinator Garden Map and Key 2021 v 1

Canopy Grant Awarded to Waldo SWCD

Waldo SWCD is pleased  to announce that we have been awarded $8900 by Project Canopy for our education project, the Belfast City Park Arboretum, receiving the full amount requested. The project is a collaboration of the City of Belfast Parks and Recreation Department and the District. The award will fund the installation of 14 new trees in the arboretum, new interpretive signs, tree markers for 30 more trees, as well as an educational map and guide. We are excited to work with Project Canopy on this project, which will allow us to complete many of our planned resources at the park.

City Park Arboretum in Belfast is one of the only arboretums in the Midcoast area. For decades, local residents worked to create an arboretum in the park, adding many species of trees and making plans. In 2015, we began working with Friends of Belfast Parks, the City, the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition, Habitat Belfast and the District to make the long held dream a reality. With this grant, we will complete most of our goals, and the arboretum will be an amazing learning resource to teach Waldo County residents and visitors about trees and forests. Work is already underway, with 6 new trees planted in June (see photos). The new plantings will include climate appropriate adaptive species, urban trees, and new native Maine trees. Trees lost to age and storms will be replaced. Our map will include guided walks, tree information, and activities for children, and printed copies will be available in the park.

We are grateful to be recipients of this grant from the Maine Forest Service and the USDA Forest Service. We’d also like to thank the City of Belfast, the Belfast Parks Commission, the Menig Trust, the McKeage Family Fund and Friends of Belfast Parks for making this vision a reality. Stop by the park and see our new trees and signs this summer, or join us for a tour this fall. If you would like to help out at the arboretum, please contact us anytime.

Getting Ready for Spring Vegetable Gardening? Check out these links from UMaine Cooperative Extension, including local plots available

If you are ready for spring gardening, check out these useful links compiled by Vina Lindley of the UMaine Cooperative Extension. Vina is always available to answer your questions. There are also workshops coming up–see the link below.

Happy Gardening!
Remember UMaine Cooperative Extension and Waldo SWCD are here if you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!

National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2021: Ten Ways to Slow or Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species in Maine

Japanese stiltgrass

“Together, we can do more” is the theme under which the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is rolling out its 2021 National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW)

campaign. NISAW is the annual program designed to raise consumer awareness of invasive species, the threats they pose, and what can be done to slow or prevent their spread.

DACF, with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, invites everyone to join in NISAW by using this opportunity to learn more about invasive species harming Maine’s natural resources, including their economic impacts, and get involved.

Ten Ways to Slow or Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species in Maine

  • Learn how to identify signs of emerald ash borer. Winter is a great time to see “blonding” on ash trees, the shallow flecking of the bark by woodpeckers. If you think you see “blonding,” take some good quality photos, note your location, and report your findings on the EAB Report Form.
  • Learn how to identify invasive plants like Japanese stiltgrass that might be growing on your property, and volunteer with your local land trust or conservation commission to help remove invasive plants on local public lands. The Maine Natural Areas Program developed the Maine Invasive Plant Field Guide to help you recognize problem plants. The guide also describes control methods to help you start reclaiming your landscape.
  • Be on the lookout for the invasive tree of heaven, which is host to a new invasive insect threat, the spotted lanternfly. If you think you have seen the tree of heaven in Maine, please report it to mnap@maine.gov.
  • Watch out for Browntail Moth! Browntail moth winter webs have been found from Northern Aroostook County to York County in Maine. Check your hardwood trees and shrubs for browntail moth winter webs. Now is a great time to clip out and destroy webs of overwintering browntail moth caterpillars before they become active.
  • Protect our forests from invasive earthworms! Did you know there are no earthworms native to Maine? European and Asian invaders destroy forest soils with their voracious feeding. The most destructive worms are known as crazy worms, jumping worms, or snake worms. Earthworms spread when people move plants, soil, mulch, or leaves or when bait worms are left on the banks of waterways.
  • Planning a camping trip? Leave your firewood at home and prevent the spread of invasive pests. Buy firewood at the campground or other local sources.
  • Play-Clean-Go Clean hiking boots, waders, boats and trailers, off-road vehicles, and other gear to stop invasive species from hitching a ride to a new location. Learn more at Play Clean Go.
  • Protect Maine’s waterways from invasive aquatic plants by following Clean, Drain, Dry. Want to do more? Join Lake Stewards of Maine, the longest-standing, state-wide citizen lake monitoring program in the U.S.
  • Don’t release aquarium fish and plants, live bait, or other exotic animals into the wild. If you plan to own an exotic pet, do your research and make sure you can commit to its care. Learn more at Habitattitude. And remember, it is illegal to import any freshwater fish, and many other organisms, into the state of Maine without a permit from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
  • Together, we can do more! Spread awareness, tell your friends, family, neighbors, and others about invasive species and the harm they do to our environment and health. Please encourage them to get involved with National Invasive Species Awareness Weeks in their way. Here are some resources to help get started: