The Surrounding Woodland
The approximately seven-acre woodland that surrounds the cleared property is primarily tulip poplar and ash. Walnut, sycamore, hackberry, hickory, beech and box elder make up the remaining canopy; and redbud, dogwood, pawpaw and spice bush make up most of the understory. Invasive pests like multiflora rose, wineberry, Japanese honeysuckle, oriental bittersweet, and ailanthus make life difficult, but then so do native vines such as wild grape, poison ivy and greenbrier.
The woods offer up many edible mushrooms in spring, summer and autumn, and allow me to flex my foraging muscles. We eat wood ears, chicken of the woods, oyster mushrooms, wine caps, honey mushrooms and puffballs. This spring (2020) I found morels for the first time.
From 2016-2018, ash borer devastated the ash trees on the property and we were forced to remove trees that were close to the house – including one that got a little too close, coming through the roof during a windstorm.
In total, we have had 12 mature trees taken down on the property; but in exchange we have planted nearly 60. The wood from fallen trees has been used to heat the house, make indoor furniture and outside benches and create a hügelkultur along the spine of what will be the Serpentine Bed someday.