This year marks a significant achievement in the effort to improve wildlife habitat and reduce invasive plants at the Turenne Wildlife Habitat.
This reservation contains 18 acres of woodland and meadow located on Oak Hill in Southborough. After walking through an oak-hickory forest with dramatic rock outcrops, the visitor passes through a native plant bird garden and is then treated to a spectacular view of Wachusett Mountain in the distance.
The original gift of land included an old tennis court which had been stripped of asphalt and left to grow wild. Beginning in 1995, the site was transformed into a native plant bird garden through the efforts of neighbors, volunteers, the local gardening club, and SVT staff. The garden was planted with native wildflowers and shrubs that attract birds and butterflies.
In the area surrounding the bird garden, Oriental bittersweet strangled trees and shrubs, creating an eyesore. Volunteers and neighbors began pulling the vines from the trees and cutting the vine stumps, providing temporary relief. After several years, SVT staff recognized that the bird garden required a more comprehensive management plan that would provide sustainable, long-term results, target other invasive plants at the site, and provide for habitat restoration. Over the years, SVT staff has worked with hundreds of volunteers to implement the management plan, controlling invasive plants and restoring wildlife habitat.
An intensive control approach was used for the area directly abutting the bird garden, where there was a very thick invasion of non-native plants. In the early spring, volunteers pulled up as much of the bittersweet vine and invasive shrubs (honeysuckle and multiflora rose) as possible. Then in late summer, we sprayed the regrowth. Herbicide application services were donated by SavATree of Lincoln. This method was repeated annually for six years.
This past year, we achieved a sufficient reduction in the density and abundance of invasive plants that we could expand the bird garden and add more native plants. With support from the Crossroads Community Foundation, we planted small trees and shrubs in the fall of 2007 and will complete the plantings with wildflowers later this spring. A local Boy Scout, Brendan Loftus, coordinated volunteers to finalize the plantings and conduct interpretive tours of the bird garden and the reservation.
SVT has produced a new educational brochure
that serves as a primer for homeowners wishing to control invasive plants, improve wildlife habitat and beautify the landscape of their yard. The Turenne Bird Garden serves as a demonstration site for homeowners to learn about control techniques and view potential plantings and landscape design that they might incorporate into their yards. This project builds upon the Ecological Landscaping Demonstration Project at our headquarters at Wolbach Farm. You can find more information here.