Thank you to Merrylyn Sawyer and Theresa for raising an interesting topic
I assume that the emphasis in the suggested list upon perennial, herbaceous
plants and low-growing shrubs probably has to do with the demand for a view
of the water. To best accomplish the buffering, though, a preponderance of
woody plants will provide deep roots, a high transpiration rate in larger
plants, and wildlife habitat including shade, perches, nest sites, cover,
and forage. Larger woody plants would withstand the eroding effects of a
severe storm that could otherwise wash out chunks of lakeshore.
To meet all objectives (improve water quality, erosion control, wildlife
habitat, plus view from the deck), I would recommend to lakeshore property
owners that they install groupings of taller woody plants, including trees,
interspersed with groupings of herbs. And then refrain from fertilizing or
herbiciding in the lawn and garden beds upslope from the buffer, at all.
In fact, if no other point can be gotten across to lakeshore owners, the
"chemical-free lawn" should be a first priority. Don't you think so?
The best buffer strip is likely to be an old, native one that developed
naturally (unless it contains weedy invasives such as Asian bittersweet or
Japanese barberry or even purple loosestrife). This old, existing buffer
is fully functioning, while a created buffer strip might take many years to
reach its potential in holding soil, ameliorating effects of run-off, and
providing mature habitat.
One approach to understanding species composition of buffers would be to go
around and see what grows in unaltered, existing buffer strips, and then
try to get those species for people to plant in created buffers. But
assuming that no one has time to go around the lakes and figure that out,
at least in time for the Great Wayne Fair, here are some ideas --
Shadbush, Amelanchier, has beautiful flowers in May and fruits that attract
thrushes in late June and July. These shrubs or small trees should do well
in a lake shore habitat and are EASY to grow. Some are tall, others are
low -- a combination of both would be attractive. Some native species are
If available from a nursery, native species of alders and birches (such as
paper birch) would be excellent choices. The alders fix atmospheric
nitrogen in the soil, as well as holding the bank.
And a conifer such as eastern white cedar, Thuja occidentalis, would be
good in combination with other plants, and offers important cover for wildlife.
Best of luck with your project! May the lakeshore owners throng to the
booth and come away charged up with information, energy and inspiration for
Alison C. Dibble
At 01:49 PM 7/23/2004, you wrote:
>Hi everyone -
>Could you please take a minute to comment on this if you have any
>opinions? If you could reply to Merrylyn and to me, that would be helpful.
>Merrylyn Sawyer called this morning with a question about native plants
>for buffer strips in the Wayne region (Androscoggin Lake area, Kennebec
>and Androscoggin Counties). She is planning to buy native plants at
>Pierson's in Biddeford and have them for sale at the Great Wayne Fair in
>August. This will be part of the Androscoggin Lake Improvement
>Corporation's (ALIC) educational display.
>This is the list of plants that we thought would be suitable for our area.
>Merrylyn Sawyer <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2004 08:58:58 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Merrylyn Sawyer
>Subject: Plant list
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Thank you for your time today. Below is a list of the plants we
>discussed. I need to know if it is a bad idea to introduce any of these
>to the shores of Lake Androscoggin. We plan to sell these plants at the
>Great Wayne Fair to encourage buffer zone plantings by our residents of
>the lake. My concern is introducing species that do not already exist in
>this area and possibly introducing genetic stock that should not be
>introduced. I will be purchasing these from the Pierson Nursery in
>Biddeford. Any thoughts?
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