Taking a walk with Elkhart City Forester, Dan Popovich Coy, was an informative experience. We had several things to discuss as a group, but mainly were looking at the healthiness of the forest at Woodlawn Nature Center in Elkhart, as he is responsible for many, if not all, of the trees in Elkhart city.
We talked wood chips, tree cookies, and different programs available in the city, such as the firewood cutting program. Other things, like woodchips and compost, are available outside the Elkhart Environmental Center. I originally saw this article about the ash trees available and wondered if some would be helpful for the planned natural playscape area. I contacted him about possibilities.
This bush honeysuckle was found throughout the woods. It is one of the earliest shrubs to get leaves, so it's easy to identify right now. And it's ALL over. While it's pretty, it doesn't allow for biodiversity and crowds the native plants out. Did I mention it's all over? That's a lot of digging. Do you like to dig? We could use some help! :-)
As we walked we found this unique tree, perhaps hit by lightening at some point. Despite the look, it was quite healthy otherwise.
One of the springtime favorites, GARLIC MUSTARD! This needs to go as well.
Some grapevines were taking over trees. While grapevines are not necessarily bad, when they take over a tree, they should be considered for removal.
Checking out a box elder, a member of the acer family. There really is a good selection of trees in the forest. He suggested planting more of the native shrubs to have more biodiversity.
When he found this patch of trout lily, he said, "This is AWESOME!" Good to know a few things are right in the woods! However, there are more green plants on the forest floor that should be pulled up.
A few other species we talked about include:
Wahoo--these have beautiful berries in the fall. I'm surprised at the square shape they make in nature. Geometry is everywhere!
Virginia Creeper--these vines are sometimes confused with poison ivy, but have five points to one leaf, more like a star and are a beautiful red in the fall. However, it can cause death to the host tree.
We also saw the red tips of poison ivy getting ready for spring. Help me now!