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Marion Garden Club: Beware of the invasive Japanese knotweed, expert tells members

  • Andy West is proprietor emeritus of Ozark Koala Ecosystem Services in Carbondale.

    Andy West is proprietor emeritus of Ozark Koala Ecosystem Services in Carbondale.
    Courtesy of Linda Minnis, Marion Garden Club

Submitted by the Marion Garden club
updated: 8/25/2022 1:39 PM

On Aug. 17, members of Marion Garden Club held their regular meeting at Heartland Christian Church. Speaker Andy West of Ozark Koala Ecosystem Services talked about "Invasives, Landscape Alternatives, and Pollinator and Rain Gardens."

West said that most invasives are non-natives brought in by humans. He showed stems of native and invasive plants he had collected that morning in his yard and in a field area in town.

Invasives include Autumn olive, Oriental bittersweet, Multifloral Rose, and Privet. He added that Japanese knotweed is the worst thing coming into our area now. To get rid of invasives, one needs to evaluate the stage the plant is in to determine how to eradicate. It may require several methods including cutting back and painting herbicide on the root system. Eradication may take several years.

West continued that one should plant native species and cultivars that show no signs of invasiveness. He suggested gardeners should not be afraid to plant oak trees, which are the best trees to benefit wildlife. White Oaks are hardier than the Red Oaks. He noted that Bradford and Cleveland Pear trees are not good trees. Red Bud, Red Maple, etc. would be better alternatives. Further, a tree should be cut down rather than topped.

During the business meeting, Conservation Chairman Ronda McWilliams talked about watering during heat and dry spells. She said to water priority plants first. Gardeners should not water every day, she warned, as frequent watering keeps moisture at the top of the soil. Instead, water more deeply less often. Mow higher so taller grass can shade the roots, and use more perennials that require less water.

Mary Helen Yeck, chairman of the Garden of the Month Committee, reported that the yard of Will, Brittany and Isabella Douglas at 1005 E. Clark St. is the committee's pick for August. Yeck is also Horticulture chairman, and she provided a handout on deadheading plants.

Ornithology Chairman Kathy Belletire provided a sheet on "Hard Times for Barn Owls," which are declining due to habitat loss and predation by Great Horned Owls. Allowing dead trees to stand and putting up nest boxes on steel pole barns can help their recovery.

Twila Couey, Youth Activities chairman, announced her committee will do a project with the Marion Carnegie Library's Story Hour on Oct. 5 and 6. Pumpkins will be the theme.

• For more information about the Marion Garden Club, which is part of District VII, Garden Clubs of Illinois and Central Region, National Garden Clubs, Inc., visit

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