UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Planting native perennials, at Peabody Park “ivy pull”

Photo of Wes Mitchell and Bobbee VannasaneWhen you volunteer to clean up a beloved campus park, you’re going to get a little dirty.

But every job will be important.

“Trash group 1, come up here please!” asks Dr. Elizabeth Lacey (Biology), standing on a stone wall so the dozens of volunteers could hear her. She gives advice, and Russ Dubois (Facilities Design and Construction) leads them to the gloves, the garbage bags, and their part of the park. Chad Carwein (Sustainability Office) does the same for Group 2.

Group 3? “We’re going to pulling and cutting English Ivy and ripping bush honeysuckle out of the ground. It’ll be great!” Lacey tells them. Group 4 will do the same, led by Dr. Anne Hershey (Biology).

If left unchecked, the invasive weeds could smother many other native species.

What’s new this year? The planting of native perennials, in areas where volunteers have removed invasive weeds between Cone and the large walkway. Kevin Siler and some students ferried plants from a UNCG Facilities Operations cart. “We’ve got azaleas, viburnums, astor, phlox, ferns and anemone,” Siler says.

A pair of six-weeks-away-from-graduation Biology seniors worked to plant the native species. Both had been in Lacey’s conservation class last semester, where a project delved into this type of biodiversity effort for the park. Bobbee Vannasane, who plans to be a dentist, says “Dr. Lacey’s enthusiasm motivates us,” as he digs holes for cinnamon fern.

Wes Mitchell, the other, plans to be a park biologist. He is working west of Cone, planting various native species. “It’s nice to see it going in,” he says. “It’s rewarding.”

Dr. Gideon Wasserberg (Biology) and students from his Landscape Ecology class volunteered as well.

As the day wound down, Lacey estimated about 60 students had volunteered. The ivy pulls are held once each semester. Occasionally there are special projects. Her students last winter planted loblolly pines at the edge of the park near the McIver Deck.

As Wes Mitchell says, reading is great but … “It’s nice to get your hands dirty.”

By Mike Harris
Visual: Wes Mitchell and Bobbee Vannasane