By Karen Robinson
Having joined the Mayne Island Conservancy the spring after I purchased my property on Beechwood Drive, I immediately took advantage of the Conservancy’s Walkabout program in order to learn more about both the native and invasive species on my land.
Biologist Rob Underhill and Conservancy Executive Director Michael Dunn met with me on a sunny May morning. Rob had brought a tree core sampler and he offered to determine the age of the tree of my choice. I had more than a few to choose from, but the Garry oak that grows up through the deck of my cabin was an easy winner. Rob took the sample, and when he saw how close together the lines were he told me he would have to count them under a microscope and get back to me on the tree’s age.
The Walkabout was a valuable educational experience. The most visible invasive species on my property is the very aggressive Scotch broom. Rob pointed out other less obvious invaders, such as English hawthorn and English holly. We also discussed what is important for native species to thrive, particularly the Garry oaks, which are a key species in an endangered ecosystem.
Besides the educational benefits of the Walkabout, I got to know two like-minded people who are passionate about restoring native habitats on Mayne Island. Rob and Michael were knowledgeable and eager to help me get to know my property. Recently, Rob met with three of us neighbours on Beechwood to talk about stewardship of our land, particularly when it comes to eradication of the (*&#*!) broom.
And of course, later on the day of the Walkabout, Rob phoned to inform me that the Garry oak growing through my deck is well over 200 years old!