Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ivy League for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows....

In the middle of the sprawling campus of Towson University just outside Baltimore there lies a twelve-acre glen called "The Glen" by literal-minded students.  Within the glen are 94 of the 120 tree species native to Maryland.

These are everywhere!
You know that one of those tree types thriving in Towson would be the Ailanthus altissima, the tree originally from China that some people call the "Tree of Heaven" and some call the "stink tree." Ailanthus would grow in a paved schoolyard or a crack in a sidewalk. Or in a sidewalk without a crack, I don't know.  They're everywhere around here.

And so is English ivy (Hedera helixwhich has been threatening to take over The Glen.  This rampant green invader can show up out of nowhere and, in no time at all, take over everything in sight, like your uncle from Cincinnati who showed up that time and just stayed and stayed, and ate all the scrapple and almond bark that Nora gave you for Christmas. 

English Ivy sounds very nice, like a nice tower at a college where people wear tweed suits and read Wordsworth and sip Darjeeling, or the other way around.  But once it takes over a garden or glen, it's curtains for the other will take over and choke everything in a curtain of green.  Even the ailanthus!

Getting your goat
So, bring in some fauna, figured the University brass, and they did, in the form of a herd of 18 goats from Harford County, who arrived by truck, entered the woods and commenced to chowing down on the ivy and I don't know what-all else...leaves, tree bark, probably some empty beer cans. This is a trial, but if the goats eliminate the ivy from this part of the campus, they will get to dine on all the overgrown sections.

It's more earth-friendly than herbicides and cheaper than hiring people.  And there is one other benefit...people get stung by bees and suffer reactions to poison ivy.  In my Opie-like childhood, when my parents moved to our long-time home outside Towson, the front yard had been allowed to run riot, and was full of poison ivy.  A friendly neighbor brought over his goat, who made a brunch of the problem, no problem.


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