The Vonnegut House Takes on Invasive Exotic Plants
Indiana has a problem, and we hope it didn't start with ol Clemens being partial to botanical delights of the Orient. Mea Culpa if so!
In March of 2016 the Vonnegut house was lucky to host Robert Lamb, Director and Founder of Ecoforesters of Asheville NC and a professional forester. Eco Foresters is the nation's only non profit forestry consultation firm ( that we can find! ecoforesters.com) on his first of now two visits to Culver to advise Culver Academies on their forest lands.
One of Rob's recommendations to the academy was the removal of invasive exotic plants that are competing with and in some places out competing the native flora. Rob showed us how to identify the main culprits in North Central Indiana, Oriental Bittersweet, the varieties of red berried Asian Bush Honeysuckles, and Japanese Barberry and some minor Multiflora Rose.
We were a bit embarrassed to learn that a bush right between the driveway and the house was a Bush Honeysuckle, and it's hours were numbered after that as Clemens pulled out the garden shears and showed his industrial know how.
This year Rob and Jon Shaffer, also of Eco Foresters, returned to Culver for 10 days of work and were able to benefit from the smoker on the deck for a home cooked meal before they commenced their labor. They again observed a number of invasives and this time we took more profound action.
For a day this June on a break between renters, two hard working local fellahs, Farmer Jim and Young Matt helped with shears, saws and chainsaws remove just about every invasive we could identify on the property as well as a few native ashes that succumbed to the emerald ash borer. It was a day of hard work but the guys made quick work of what was mostly bush honeysuckle on the bluff below the house. As the house is perched close to the edge of the bluff down to the lake, we work hard to not undermine the roots that hold that hillside in place, we worked hard on the house and don't want to contribute it to the driftwood on the lake, but we worked through removing all that we could, leaving the roots so that they would stabilize the soil until the local plants recovered to stabilize things...
We worked for hours, tried to be as careful as possible, as none of us is a botanist, but we know the ones we got were bad ones, and maybe still a few to go after a long days work, but it was a good start and we'll keep plucking away for the health of our forests and the home we treasure.