By Carol Stocker
CAMBRIDGE - As invasive species and habitat loss continue to threaten our native birds and other wildlife, our urban and suburban gardens could become their last refuge. Grow Native Massachusetts, part of the new environmental movement that advocates for the creation of habitat in our own front and backyards, is again offering its free public lecture series “Evenings with the Experts” at the Cambridge Public Library. Now in its fourth year, this series has been well attended by gardeners and gardening enthusiasts of all ages who care about biodiversity and want to make a difference by improving the ecological value of their landscapes. Come. Get inspired. Every garden matters; every landscape counts. Lectures are on the first Wednesday of each month from February through June, and begin at 7:00pm.
Here’s this year’s lineup:
February 6: Managing Invasives at Home and Around Town.
A talk by Eric Olson & Josh Ellsworth of Brandeis University. Founder of the Newton Invasive Plant Task Force, Dr. Olson has led substantial volunteer efforts to control invasive species in Newton and Waltham. He will discuss this management challenge, especially the importance of building trust with local Conservation Commissions, and the risks and pleasures of depending entirely upon volunteer labor. Josh Ellsworth will explain the ecology of invasives, along with specific techniques for controlling the species most commonly encountered in Greater Boston.
March 6: Meadowscaping in Urban and Suburban Spaces.
Catherine Zimmerman, founder of the Meadow Project, describes why meadow and prairie habitats are so beneficial, both economically and environmentally. She is passionate about getting Americans to move away from their devotion to a monoculture of pesticide-ridden lawns. Get a step-by-step primer on reducing lawn size and installing a beautiful meadow instead. No space is too small. Join the movement to bring back native habitat! Ms. Zimmerman is the author of "Urban and Suburban Meadows."
April 3: Landscape Design with the Climate in Mind
Sue Reed, author of "Energy-Wise Landscape Design" discusses how to manage our landscapes to save energy and reduce our carbon footprint—essential actions in this era of climate change. You can: reduce costs for home heating and cooling; save energy on your gardens and grounds; and choose products with lower embedded energy costs. Your property is full of opportunities to conserve, even if you’re not doing a major renovation or landscape redesign. Ms. Reed is an author and landscape architect.
May 1: Go Botany! Plant ID for the 21st Century
Imagine identifying plants in the field with your iPad or smart phone. Go Botany is the new definitive on-line Flora of New England for just that. Botanist Elizabeth Farnsworth will introduce and demonstrate this richly illustrated interactive key to over 3,500 native and naturalized plants of our region. This tool also includes PlantShare for reporting discoveries, exchanging checklists, and more. This evening will equip you to ID and better understand the many plants you encounter.
June 5: The Restoration of Consecration Dell
At the heart of Mount Auburn Cemetery, Consecration Dell is a landscape of great beauty and a hot spot for birding. Yet not long ago, it was overrun by invasive species and worn from erosion. Come hear Dr. Dave Barnett, President of Mount Auburn, describe the Dell's restoration— requiring decades of work to establish a thriving community of native plants and vital habitat for wildlife. It is complex and intriguing tale, full of lessons about the challenges and rewards of ecological restoration.
For more about Grow Native Massachusetts and the Evenings with Experts lecture series go to www.grownativemass.org.