Like many invasive species, Japanese barberry was introduced to the United States as an ornamental. Its hardy nature and red berries made it an attractive addition to landscapes in the late nineteenth century. Unfortunately, those qualities also allow it to spread voraciously beyond garden boundaries and into nearby natural areas. Unappetizing to deer because of its thorny stems, barberry is left unchecked and quickly takes over -- pushing out native plant species and severely reducing the amount of wildlife that can live in an area. Additionally, research shows that a barberry's dense foliage creates a perfect, humid climate for blacklegged ticks that carry Lyme disease -- a fact that also creates a public health risk.
On Saturday, May 13 from 10:00am - 2:00pm, ISN is giving landowners the opportunity to trade-in Japanese barberry for a coupon good for a non-invasive alternative. Hosted at the Boardman River Nature Center, pre-registered individuals can bring in their removed barberry shrubs to be disposed of correctly. In exchange, they will be given a coupon to a local nursery that participates in ISN's Go Beyond Beauty program. This ensures that any replacement plant will be non-invasive and support an array of wildlife! This is a great opportunity to transition your landscape to one that does not threaten nearby natural areas.
Registration is required and can be done online. Registration will close on Thursday, May 4, after which ISN will contact you to confirm a drop-off time.
Go Beyond Beauty, a program of the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN), announces an expansion of who is eligible to participate. Go Beyond Beauty, which began in 2013, was previously only open to plant nurseries and landscapers, and nearly 20 businesses participated. As interest in gardens and planting has increased, Go Beyond Beauty will now be open to any interested person or organization in ISN’s service area: Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Manistee counties. Groups that manage a public planting, such as garden clubs and homeowner associations, are especially encouraged to join.
Go Beyond Beauty is free, voluntary and the only program of its kind in the Midwest that recognizes those who take a proactive stance by avoiding or removing invasive plant species, thus protecting our region’s natural assets.
“The Invasive Species Network established Go Beyond Beauty to create a change in the market by creating a demand for native plants,” said Emily Cook, outreach specialist with the ISN. “We view the program as a ‘carrot’ rather than a ‘stick’, meaning we want to incentivize and celebrate those who opt against high-priority invasive species.”
Participants, such as Garden Goods in Traverse City, are excited that others will be joining the effort.
"We are so pleased to have been involved with the Go Beyond Beauty program since its inception,” said Julie Sovereign, owner of Garden Goods. “Our customers appreciate our commitment to lessening the impact non-native species can have on the vast natural areas that surround us. What a wonderful opportunity this will be for individuals to participate directly with the program.”
Invasive species can negatively impact human health, our economy and our habitats. Plants such as baby’s breath can quickly spread and overtake the sand dunes that characterize Michigan’s coastline. By promoting non-invasive plants among garden clubs and centers, landscapers, school groups and any interested resident, Go Beyond Beauty hopes to make northwest Michigan an example of natural beauty, wildlife habitat and bountiful waters that inspire.
Benefits of participating include Go Beyond Beauty materials, such as bumper stickers and garden signs, as well as plentiful information about invasive ornamentals and native plants in gardens. Those interested in participating in Go Beyond Beauty are encouraged to attend the spring meeting on Thursday, April 6 from 2-4pm at the Boardman River Nature Center, 1450 Cass Road, Traverse City, MI 49685. To register for the meeting or learn more, contact Emily Cook (firstname.lastname@example.org or 231-941-0960 ext. 20).
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