On Saturday, March 13th, Viles Arboretum hosted a spring Volunteer Day focusing on invasive species removal. Members of the Maine Conservation Corps as well as Invasive Plant Biologist Nancy Olmstead were present to assist volunteers in identifying and properly removing invasive plant species. While invasive plant species are widespread across the property, three sites were identified as targets for the efforts of this event. The Piggery, Johnson Pavilion and Larch Collection were determined as areas in critical need of invasive species removal.
As with much of the historic agricultural land across New England, Viles Arboretum has found itself home to an overabundance of invasive plant species.
Invasive species are defined as species occurring outside their natural range which are able to reproduce within their introduced range and presents a threat to native species or ecosystems in which they inhabit. Frequently these species are capable of outcompeting naturally occurring species for resources and have few or no limiting factors in their introduced range, allowing them to spread uncontrolled.
If you live or recreate in Central or Southern Maine, the brown-tail moth is probably an insect you have become well acquainted with. In recent years these small, fuzzy white moths and their caterpillars have a bad habit of showing up everywhere. The caterpillars leave behind fibers in the soil and on surfaces we come in contact with that can result in painful rashes and respiratory distress. Unfortunately, the Arboretum has not been spared from the brown-tail moth invasion.
If you have ever taken the time to walk the wetland boardwalk at Viles Arboretum, you have probably noticed the remains of an old deck structure looming within the pond. The now soft, skeletal beams were once a part of the original boardwalk, serving as a wider viewing platform. With the original boardwalk long since removed, the old observation deck has remained. Perhaps the occasional Cormorant or Mallard Duck has appreciated the structure in recent years, but to those using the boardwalk for wildlife viewing or photography, those weathered beams only stand in the way.
Viles Arboretum welcomes thousands of people a year to our sprawling 224 acres in Central Augusta. Those of us in the public land management "industry" would describe this space as "mixed used," meaning that there are many ways that our visitors use this space - from cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter to hikers looking for an informative walk through our 20 botanical collections.
Our Community Garden's are a wonderful addition to the property, especially as interest in food security has grown during the pandemic. Community garden plots are available for as little as $35 dollars (our lowest Membership level) and include a number of great benefits.
If you know anything about gardening, you know how important compost is to the fruit and vegetable garden. Compost doesn't just provide the full spectrum of Macro and Micro nutrients needed for a bountiful harvest; it also improves water retention, moderates pH, and improves soil structure.
We are pleased to announce our Spring 2021 Educational Class Series! Starting in January we will be welcoming a group of highly-talented instructors to host a series of educations classes at the Arboretum. All courses offered this spring will be hosted either outdoors, or in our spacious Viles Room to allow for safe, socially distant education opportunities. Some of our instructors even offer hybrid options to allow individuals to participate from the safety and comfort of their own homes!
The Maine Master Naturalist Program, a long-time partner of the arboretum, recently hosted a graduation event on our grounds. Here's a note from their organization:
"The Maine Master Naturalist Program (https://mainemasternaturalist.org/) offers a rigorous, yearlong course where students learn about Maine’s plants, animals, geology, ecological systems, conservation biology, and more. Guided by experienced volunteer naturalists and professionals, the course provides hands-on learning in the classroom and in the field. After graduation, Maine Master Naturalists are required to volunteer to share their knowledge with others.
This winter, explore our beautiful trails by cross-country ski or snowshoe. Rentals will be available in the Visitor Center.
Under 18 years old: FREE
The Visitor Center is open from 11:00 to 5:00, Wednesday through Saturday. Rentals are first come, first serve!
For those of you who are members, you should have already received our print edition of the 2020 Fall newsletter. We are excited to share what the Arboretum has been up to this year, as there have been many new developments.
We are now happy to offer the 2020 Fall newsletter here for download.