Granby Strikes Back!

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Photo by Faith Tyldsley

You never know what you’ll find

Under clear blue skies on Nov. 7, nine intrepid Granby volunteers bravely strode into the prickers and vines at Holcomb Farm. Armed with loppers, shovels, pruners, saws and grim good humor, they hacked through multiple layers of robust invasives accustomed to frolicking freely and smothering native trees and shrubs.

What did we find? All kinds of buried treasure. 

Farm implements embedded in tree trunks—a two-seater outhouse—a huge flat rock—an enormous, statuesque shagbark hickory tree—a row of quaking aspens connected below ground!

And many massive “mother of them all” multiflora roses, Oriental bittersweets, Japanese barberries and trees-of-heaven.

Peggy Lareau demonstrated the girdling method on a grove of trees-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima). This aggressive invasive tree, often confused with sumac, responds to being cut down by sending out new trees through rhizomes underground. Girdling—cutting the outer layer around the trunk with a chisel or hatchet—prevents nutrients from travelling through the tree and kills it, without stimulating additional growth. The prize for the biggest meanest root, a multiflora rose, was extracted by Lee Barba.

Another strange sight was an axel and wheels that became embedded over time in the outer layer of a red maple, completely concealed from view before Dave Roberts and Diana Hughes removed bittersweet vines.

A classic two-seater outhouse was barely visible, surrounded by massive multiflora roses, at the base of a magnificent shagbark hickory tree. It now can be approached for restoration—and possible use?

The nine volunteers (Lee Barba, David Desiderato, Diana Hughes, Josie Klein, Peggy Lareau, Sally Markee, Valerie Raggio, Dave Roberts and Faith Tyldsley) invite everyone to view the site of Granby’s Invasive Action Day and appreciate the progress as it continues in the coming months. From the main Holcomb Farm building, head downhill to the fenced CSA field. Most of the recent work is on the right side heading downhill. Want to know about future events and stay up to date on invasive plants in Granby and beyond? Sign up using the form at