The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Thursday, June 7th, 2012 at the home of Sallie Mabon. Hosting with Mabon was Mary Anne Harman. Members and guests wandered through admiring the Mabon’s Victorian home and ended in the garden beside her koi pond and waterfall where the program was presented.
Lauren Johnson with the Department of Natural Resources and a naturalist at FDR State Park presented a program on Invasive Exotic Plants. Johnson first defined native versus non native species with the emphasis on those species of plants not native to our ecosystem and by introducing them in our area, we cause harm to our health or the economy or environment.
We introduce plants that are invasive for the same reason we plant other appealing plants: for ornamental, landscape or agricultural purposes. As the garden club members were all thinking kudzu and privet, Johnson reminded us that for every 100 plant species introduced, only one becomes invasive.
Invasive plants have several determining characteristics that make them invasive: they produce lots of seed and effectively disperse them, they grow and mature rapidly, they are long lived, adaptable to habitats, easily established, and have no natural predators.
Invasive plants damage the environment by competing native species, changing the plant community, interfering with plant evolution, impacting wildlife and affecting the recreational benefits of an area.
There are workshops to learn more about the plants, and federal agencies created an invasive species council. Georgia has an Exotic Pest Plant Council to help control such plants as Chinese, Glossy, and Japanese Privets, Japanese Honeysuckle, Kudzu, Nepalese Browntop, Golden Bamboo, Autumn Olive, Chinese Tallowtree, Hydrilla, Mimosa, Wisterias, English Ivy, Queen Anne’s Lace, and Multiflora Rose. Of current particular interest is Cogongrass that is invading the southern part of our state. The DNR asks that we report any sprigs of Cogongrass that we see.
Johnson explained that certain species have a lag time. While privet was introduced in the 1800’s, its growth habits did not explode and become a nuisance until the 1950’s. Club members also discussed leaving English ivy unmaintained in the landscape as well as the love of Queen Anne’s Lace and managing wisteria.
After the program the club members and guests were treated to a delicious brunch. The Next garden club meeting will be in July at the home of Carla Snyder with co host Erma Jean Brown and the program will be on landscaping the Southern home.