A Clearer Picture: Removing Invasive Plants from the Grounds

May 03, 2022

Unoccupied since the 1980s, the Eugenia Williams House property became overrun with invasive plant species, threatening many of the trees and native plants. The Aslan Foundation’s Property Team has worked tirelessly to eliminate the invasive species crowding the site, including privet, honeysuckle, ailanthus, and mimosa, to name only a few. Their efforts have made a remarkable and visible improvement throughout the 24 acres.

Invasive, non-native plants are increasingly prevalent throughout the Southeast and endanger the natural environment. They harm biodiversity, degrade ecological systems, and impact the quality of life of local flora, fauna, and humans alike. They are also notoriously difficult to eradicate; successful treatment requires a systematic approach.

For example, to manage invasive vining plants such as honeysuckle and ivy, the Property Team removed countless individual plants by hand. The operation involved hand-cutting a wide swath above the base of each vine, causing it to die and gradually loosen from the afflicted tree. The bottom of the vine was then treated with herbicide, killing the root. The team conducted this methodical process around hundreds of individual trees, successfully liberating mature red oaks, maples, hemlocks, magnolias, and beeches from the devastating effects of the vines.

The property team’s work has also helped clear up the forest understory. Once impenetrable, many acres of the woods are now spacious enough to walk through unencumbered, leading to discoveries about Eugenia Williams’ landscape design choices. As the Property Team moves through the underbrush, they continue to uncover hidden features of the landscape. Their work has turned up bulb plantings, repurposed millstones, and undiscovered stone pathways. A clearer picture of the grounds brings us closer to understanding Eugenia Williams herself. It also opens up exciting new possibilities for the future, when the property will provide a balanced and healthy ecosystem for the benefit of the immediate environment, neighboring ecosystems, and generations of future visitors.