March 28, 2013
Temple University Ambler Horticulture majors spent the day March 27 locked in an ongoing battle with a stubborn invasion force that threatens the natural habitats of native plants and animals that call the Ambler Arboretum home.
As part of Sustainability Action Day, sponsored by Pi Alpha Xi, the national honor society for horticulture, students got hands-on in the campus Woodland Gardens with various types of invasive creeping groundcover plants — pachysandra, vinca, English ivy, and honeysuckle vine — pulling out vines several feet long and replacing them with native understory trees and shrubs.
“We started this project in the fall. You would not believe how much you can accomplish in a small amount of time — one pull and you’re taking out ivy vines five and six feet long and preventing them from sending out more shoots,” said Horticulture Junior Terry Cinque. “The great thing about a project like this is that anyone can become a part of it — you don’t need any particular experience and you’ll always learn something. As a non-traditional student, I think I’m living proof that there is always more to learn. That we are able to be out here contributing to the welfare of the campus and the gardens is a huge plus.”
Denise Snook, president of Pi Alpha Xi, said that the organization — with continued support from volunteers — ultimately hopes to clear the entirety of the Woodland Gardens of invasive species through a series of Sustainability Action Days. The Woodland Gardens have a long history on campus and are an integral part of the Ambler Arboretum. There gardens were originally planted by students of the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women — the predecessor of Temple University Ambler — during the 1920s.
“Invasive species crowd out native vegetation. Once the native vegetation is choked out, it creates a huge monoculture that threatens biodiversity,” she said. “Once an area loses its native vegetation, the native wildlife loses its natural food sources. By re-planting with native species, it will be harder for invasives like English Ivy to return. The new plantings give the Woodland Gardens more biodiversity and increase the teaching collection.”
Pi Alpha Xi, with support from fellow students and faculty in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, have made major inroads in clearing invasive species in and around campus in recent years. Projects have included planting trees and shrubs to stabilize stream banks on campus and clearing invasive trees and plants in meadows along the campus Loop Road.
“This is why we’re here, why we’re horticulture majors — we love the environment and want to protect native vegetation. Part of Temple’s mission is sustainability,” said Snook. “It’s very gratifying to work on projects like this. We’re working together to positively impact the landscape not just for today but for tomorrow as well.”
It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness among the University population and beyond, she said.
“This is something that everyone could — and should — be doing in their own yards, in their own environments,” Snook said. “Invasives effect more than just the immediate landscape. If we all work together, we can have a real, beneficial impact on local biodiversity.”
CONTACT: James Duffy, 267-468-8108, firstname.lastname@example.org, release available by e-mail