Darcy Sledge has lived in Westport for 30 years. She is active in several organizations — most importantly for this story, the Westport Garden Club and University of Connecticut invasive plant working group. Darcy writes:
This is the perfect time of year to check the health of your trees and shrubs.
Many trees are being smothered by invasive vines — often right under our noses.
I took a few photos in Greens Farms right before New Year’s, to show a few examples.
This is the entrance of a beautiful estate, with stone wall gates. In the foreground you see gorgeous pines. In the background, you see the same type of trees completely smothered in vines.
Vines weaken trees and shrubs. When weakened, they are the first to fall in a storm. The result is power outages, property damage and injuries.
When leaves are out, vines are hard to see. It’s easier to see them now.
I’ve gotten rid of my vines by cutting them at ground level, then cutting them again at head level. The dead ones hang in the branches, but eventually fall off.
Here’s what they look like:
You have to watch for new growth, and cut it every time. Eventually though, you get rid of the vines.
Even thick ones (called Asiatic bittersweet) can be cut with a lopper. I did it often in Winslow Park, and earned the nickname Cyndi Lopper.
Invasive vines are a rampant problem throughout the US — especially in Connecticut.
We will lose our beautiful trees and shrubs if we don’t work on getting rid of invasives. The town and state can do only so much. People need to walk their own properties on nice winter days. You may get an unhappy surprise. Landscapers may not even notice or identify owners about vines.
We talk about Westport’s changing streetscape, properties being torn down, and lovely trees being cut for new construction.
Yet our own trees may be slowly dying.