• Benefits of Native Plants

    With warmer months finally settling in and more time spent at home, many of us have been planting. Have you considered native plants when making your choices? In the past, beautiful and hearty native plant options, especially Long Island species, were not readily available but that has changed. There are numerous benefits to having these species in your garden. : Native plant species attract and support native birds, pollinators and other wildlife. Douglas Tallamy, University of Delaware Professor, points out in his now infamous Bringing Nature Home, that a native oak tree can support 500 species of butterflies and moths. The caterpillars of these insects in turn provide a large volume of food for hungry chicks. Just think about it: a single nest of recently hatched chickadees will gobble up 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars while under their parents’ care. The juicy caterpillars (and many of the insects native plants support) are easy for adults to shove into nestlings mouths. It’s no wonder nearly all (call it 96%) terrestrial bird species depend on caterpillars as a major food source while nesting. And speaking of food for wildlife, an important part of garden maintenance is not removing seed heads on plants in fall/winter. They provide further sustenance for wildlife throughout the colder months until spring arrives. In addition to food, native plant species provide many more of the shelter resources our wildlife requires than non-natives. Long Island’s warm-season grasses, for example, often grow in bunches, leaving open areas among them so that ground-nesting birds can escape from predators. Conversely, non-native species can cause harm. Note the heartbreaking effect of invasive black swallow-wort and pale swallow-wort on the Monarch butterfly. It is well known that Monarch butterfly eggs will hatch only from milkweed plants. When these butterflies instead lay eggs on swallow-wort, which are in the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae) but native to Europe, the caterpillars will not eat them which results in wasted reproduction attempts that can cause a sink in Monarch populations. Swallow-wort can also outcompete the native milkweed. Planting natives in turn supports greater biodiversity and abundance of native wildlife. When buying, look for straight species (non-cultivars – missing the “name in quotes” following the species name). While some cultivars are bred for traits in ways that result in plants almost identical to the straight species (from a pollinator benefit perspective), many do not have the nutritional value non-cultivars do and some are even toxic to wildlife. Native species also tend to require less maintenance than their non-native counterparts. Once established, native plants generally do not need regular (if any) watering. Natives do not rely on use of fertilizers and pesticides to thrive. A reduction in phosphorus and nitrogen found in fertilizers means less algae-producing runoff into our waterbodies. Native plants, in addition, do not require mowing as lawns do. Substituting native plants for part of your lawn, then, will yield more food and shelter for wildlife while decreasing water use and contamination of our water resources. And if it’s only the bottom line that counts (though we know that for readers of Conservation News this is not the case!), keep in mind that maintaining a wetland or native grassland costs a fraction (about 15% over 20 years, according to one study by Applied Ecological Services) of lawn maintenance costs.  


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  • Roosevelt Community Garden Impact

    Now entering our third year, The Roosevelt Community Garden kicked-off the growing season on April 22nd (Earth Day) with an annual clean up of the garden and distribution of plants and seeds to gardeners to start their gardening. This year, we are pleased to continue our partnership with the Roosevelt Public Library and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County to provide garden workshops and hands-on demonstrations to help gardeners and members of the community to succeed at growing food. The Land Alliance also remains grateful to Nassau County for their work to build the garden and create more access for community members to grow their own organic food. Healthy, local food enhances not only gardeners’ quality of life, but also their community environment. A series of educational workshops were scheduled for early spring, but due to the COVID 19 pandemic, these activities were postponed. For more information about the Garden, please visit us online at www.northshorelandalliance.org/rcg. 2020 Earth Day Event and Annual Clean up Earth Day 2020 Earth Day 2020 Earth Day 2020 Testimonials “The Garden is a superior community asset. Please continue your good work.” ~Daphne Adedeji/Gardener “I love the community garden, it helps me find calmness and feel connected to the earth especially during these challenging times when we are in the midst of a pandemic. It’s nice to see others in the community. Everyone sharing and learning about gardening is a healthy way to connect with others and building lasting friendships. ~ April Diane/Gardener “One of the best reasons to have a garden is to teach children where food comes from. How it’s supposed to look and taste. We have loved our experience with this community garden and we’re looking forward to many more years!” ~ Julia Schilling/Gardener “The Roosevelt Community Garden is a great addition to the community.” ~ Silinda Hickson/Community Member “I had a wonderful experience as a first-timer. I learned a lot and members were very helpful throughout the growing season. Thumbs up!” ~ Dimas Rodriguez/Garden Member “I truly believe that this project will help to usher in much-needed transformation and economic revitalization to our community. …We may be facing some hyper-inflation as indicated by the increased prices for goods and the community garden may be a means to protect vulnerable populations such as the elderly, homeless and orphans in Roosevelt by setting aside a portion of the harvest from the garden to donate to these vulnerable people.” ~ Michelle Avery/Community Member Children getting Involved at the Garden Ulysses Byas Elementary School Student planting at the Garden New Bookshelve stacked with book from the Book Fairies. Garden members passing on their knowledge Onsite Garden Manager Keno Williams working with kids C’Anna Millwood Volunteer Peter Meleady and Roosevelt Middle School Student Annual Presentation at the Roosevelt Public Library with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County CCE of Nassau County presentation


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  • Volunteers Give a Hand at our Preserves

    Hope Goddard Iselin Preserve (Iselin), Upper Brookville: 23 volunteers came out in sub-twenty-degree temperatures to remove invasive vines and shrubs close to the interpretive trail. This Martin Luther King (MLK) Day of Service event helped with not only clearing invasive vegetation but also creating brush pile habitat for wildlife. Special thanks to the many volunteers, including the Jericho High School Environmental Club, who joined us! The MLK Day of Service is a federally designated holiday to promote and encourage all Americans to improve their communities and to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Students from Professor Michael Veracka’s HOR 340, The Sustainable Garden, at SUNY Farmingdale visited Iselin multiple times during the fall. The goal of the course was to learn about actual environmental management at local preserves. This unique class combined traditional classroom learning with field visits to the preserve. Students conducted hands-on assessments and developed management proposals for optimizing habitat at the meadow. Their last visit to the preserve incorporated a formal presentation of their plans in front of a review panel. The panel consisted of Land Alliance staff, Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Secretary Pat Aitken and District Manager David Ganim. The Land Alliance thanks Professor Veracka for including us in this worthwhile endeavor and applauds his class for their innovative and practical management suggestions. Shore Road Sanctuary, Cold Spring Harbor: 12 volunteers braved inclement weather to partake in a beach cleanup and habitat restoration project that resulted in the removal of over 500 pounds of trash from the shoreline of the Long Island Sound. Trash collected included fishing line, foam, plastics and metal pipes. Volunteers then helped install plastic tarp to discourage invasive crown vetch in an area of the Sanctuary’s grassland. Many thanks to this stalwart crew. Humes Preserve, Mill Neck: The Land Alliance partnered with REI for their annual #OptOutside Day, a nationwide cleanup event held on Black Friday to encourage consumers to give back to the environment and their community and spend the day outside instead of shopping. Volunteers helped remove trash from the Humes meadow (which is undergoing restoration). Volunteers also helped in the removal of invasive garlic mustard and Chinese silvergrass. Overall, the 50 volunteers collected over 1,000 pounds of trash from the meadow. We thank everyone for their hard work and enthusiasm! Humes Japanese Stroll Garden, Mill Neck: Under the expert guidance of Stroll Garden Manager Mary Schmutz, we hosted a four-part series of volunteer events to help manage bamboo. 12 volunteers, using loppers and hand saws, selectively pruned bamboo to create healthier groves. Thank you Stroll Garden volunteers for your help during the Stroll Garden off-season! If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us at 516-922-1028 or info@northshorelandalliance.org.


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  • Improvements at the Humes Property

    Humes Formal Garden: Finishing touches are being made to one of the larger ongoing projects at Humes. Following the clearing of overgrowth and masonry repairs of the Innocenti & Webel designed formal garden and the refurbishment of the old tennis hut, planting is finally underway. In addition, the tennis court has been completely removed and is being converted into the visitor parking area, this time with a permeable bluestone surface! James Wellington of Innocenti & Webel was chosen as the landscape designer and has implemented a thoughtful and elegant plan. Arriving visitors will be greeted with an element of formality reminiscent of a country estate that wonderfully juxtaposes itself to the more natural elements of the adjacent meadow and woodlands. The formal garden and welcome hut complex will offer visitors a serene environment to enjoy a beautiful array of plants and shrubs, including boxwoods, holly, sedge, cypress, roses, azaleas and rhododendrons. Humes Flexes Its Muscles: The Land Alliance is excited to announce the creation of an outdoor fitness area at Humes. Thanks to the generous support of an anonymous donor and fitness enthusiast, this area will be a unique amenity enhancing the Humes visitor experience. Following multiple site visits with the donor and local trainer Carl Wermee, a discrete location next to the woodland trail has been chosen. Strategically tucked away outside a wooded area, the five-station fitness nook will offer a diverse array of exercise options. The stations are a subtle combination of steel and wood that will blend in naturally with the surrounding habitat. Tennis Hut (Before) Tennis Hut (After)


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  • Meadows and Trails Update

    Since our 2019 Fall Conservation News newsletter update, the Suzanne and Carter Bales Quiet Meadow has started to look more meadow-like. After two years of clearing, rubbish removal and weed management, we seeded warm-season grasses and a small volume of wildflowers (along with winter rye), in the phase one area (3.5 acres) last November. The winter rye, an annual, has taken hold to help with soil stabilization and weed competition until natives can become established. The native grasses and wildflowers will come in more gradually. To add some color to the meadow this first summer and fall, we added more mature perennial wildflowers (aster, goldenrod, phlox, indigo and others) in a number of planting locations alongside the trail, thanks to a very generous donation from the North Country Garden Club. Phase 2 areas adding up to almost an acre are still undergoing clearing and weed management but are slated to be seeded this fall. One of the highlights of our winter work was the use of a forestry mower to tackle long-entrenched woody debris in these areas. Now steps made of river stone, accompanied by an array of grasses, shrubs and wildflowers have just been installed. We were VERY surprised and delighted to receive a gift to wildlife and the meadow from Land Alliance Treasurer Jonathan Moore: an enchanting bird box he built at home by reusing cedar boards, pineapple cans and other materials. Jonathan also installed the box, facing east, adding a very welcome dimension to the meadow. MANY thanks to you, Jonathan!! Conservation News readers viewed in our last issue a network of existing and proposed trails through a corridor of 150 acres of protected land in the Beaver Brook watershed. New woodland and meadow trails at Humes and the Frost Mill Connector Parcel connect to existing ones in Shu Swamp and Upper Francis Pond to complete a five-mile circuit. Our O’Neil Stewards and volunteers are taking on some of the trail installation, vine removal, weeding and monitoring (native and invasive) plant growth along the trails and in the meadow. Steps made of river stone


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