Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nice Trip But Saw A Thug

The talk I gave last night in Sturgeon Bay went very well. My talk, for the Door County Master Gardeners, was on Color in the Garden. As usual, I went on all my typical tangents with my "stream of thought" type presentation. There was a fun crowd of about 70 or so with plenty of questions and only about 8 attendees had been to RBG in the past. I showed images of RBG (plants, gardens, volunteers) before the presentation and during the break to entice some future visitors too. Thanks to Sarah F. for inviting me up there and a big thank you to Coggin Heeringa, Executive Director of the Crossroads at Big Creek (, who provided space for the presentation. Check out their website. The nature center was really neat and I'd love to explore the grounds on a warmer day in the future. My daughter and I enjoyed the entire trip and were able to spend some time together. She has travelled, since she was 3 years old, to many of my "overnight presentations" although we'll see if that interest persists in her pre-teens (she's now 12).

Coggin mentioned that her husband has been involved with the control of common reed (Phragmites australis) in that area. The two photos I include here are from the internet and show the winter coloration (above) and summer blooms (below) of this vigorous grass. I've always noted Phragmites along roadsides and was aware of its invasive potential, particularly in wetland or damp situations. This plant is found worldwide and there is some debate as to variability of this species and when it was introduced. Research has shown that common reed (Phragmites australis subsp. americanus) may have existed prior to colonization (actually native to the Eastern U.S.) but is much less vigorous than the introduced reed which is what I observed from Door County all the way back home to Janesville. This plant can and will displace other plants and is extremely vigorous as it spreads primarily by rhizomes. There have been many uses of this plant by many cultures and I can't dispute that it looks neat waving in the breeze. However, I understand the need for control before this plant continues to gain more footing in our riparian areas. Do a bit more research on this thug, one of many, that shouldn't escape our attention.

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