Season’s greetings! Last fall, I wrote a piece on invasive non-native plants (how to prevent their spread) but here’s an idea, just in time for Christmas, that both protects our native trees and shrubs while helping to deter the foreign invasion.
(Thanks to Harry ‘Martha Stewart of the North’ Hill, who shared his idea with the Native Plant Society of BC back in 1999, his suggestions are still valid today.)
Rather than harvesting (or, preferably, salvaging) western red cedar, Douglas fir, pine, salal and evergreen huckleberry (especially after a good winter storm), the invasive shrubs and vines of European origin make remarkably attractive Christmas decorations.
To make a round frame for a wreath, visit any nearby park (alas, most of our parks have been invaded by non-native invasive plants, especially Himalayan blackberry), right-of-way or alley way that has a problem with invasive exotics and simply rip up a good length of tree-killing, rat-attracting English ivy from the ground.
For a thicker frame and to save a tree, remove ivy from any tree trunk. Use secateurs to sever the ivy at ground level, cutting off the vine’s nutrients so that its biomass around the tree will eventually die. Trim the vine, then twist and twine it into frame with five to eight loops to hold additional greenery.
English or Portuguese laurel and spurge-laurel all have attractive glossy foliage that can be stuck into the wreath frame. Be sure to include English holly and/or English hawthorn with lots of red berries to provide a showy contrast (and to reduce the next generation).
Simpler to make than a wreath is a swag.
Cut several bunches of green Scot’s broom stems, tie them together with a big red bow and hang them upside down. A few sprigs of hawthorn berries and a twist of periwinkle add a festive touch.
If you get truly inspired, you could perhaps go into production and sell these one-of-a-kind wreaths and swags at your local farmers’ market and/or holiday fair, providing a valuable educational outreach opportunity at the very same time.
Enjoy getting creative this time of year while lending the planet a helping hand.
Melissa Chaun of Port Moody is an ecologist with a passion for all things sustainable. She is events co-ordinator with the Rivershed Society of BC and volunteers on various city committees. Her column runs monthly.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
What else could you do to help conserve and protect native plants?
• Consider joining the Native Plant Society of BC (NPSBC) and help promote knowledge about native plants in our province as well as the sustainable use of those species and protection for those species at risk.
• Learn more about B.C.’s plant species at risk by visiting the BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer on the BC Ministry of Environment’s website.
• If you know of a natural area that is slated for development (and not able to be protected), resulting in loss of native plants — moreover, native plant habitat — let the NPSBC know. In some cases, it may be appropriate to salvage native plants and replant them elsewhere.
• Two documents on the NPSBC website (npsbc.wordpress.com) provide some eye-opening information: A personal take on the ethics of plant rescue by former NPSBC director Moralea Milne, “The Ethics of Plant Rescue,” and guidelines for salvaging native plants, “NPSBC Native Plant Salvaging.”