Garden Clippings for December 11, 2021

Add the Mandaumin Woods Nature Reserve to your list of Lambton County Trails.  I visited the woodlot for the first time early this week and was not disappointed.  The bite-sized forest, located on Mandaumin Road between Confederation and Churchill Line, can be walked in 10 minutes.  Fifteen if you stop to smell the roses.

Most noteworthy of the Mandaumin Woods is the fact that it is one of the few Lambton County public wood lots that could be considered old growth forest.  Yes, we have the Art Teasel Nature preserve, the Wawanosh Wetlands, the Howard Watson Trail and the Perch Creek Habitat Area, which are all nice to have, but have all been interrupted by too much human intervention.

Tree coverage in the Mandaumin Woods is dominated by American Beech, Shagbark Hickory and Sugar Maple.  The Ash have all died thanks to the Emerald Ash Borer.  Noticeably absent in the Mandaumin Woods are conifers or evergreens.

Conifers, or cone-bearing trees have needles instead of leaves.  Their diversity is vast, but not as extensive as deciduous trees.  Spruce, Pine, Fir and Hemlock have needles while Cedars and Cypress have scale like foliage.

Conifers have significance that cannot be ignored.  Their economic value for the lumber industry is second to none, as most construction lumber is made from Spruce.  The most widely used lumber in the furniture industry is Pine.  Plywood is often made of Fir.

In the forest, Conifers’ main claim to fame is their hardiness.  Conifers’ range of growth covers the spectrum of the coldest in the north to the warmest in the south.

Conifers are hardier than their deciduous counterparts.   They are given a wax-like coating over their needles, making them well equipped to handle draught, drowning, disease and pollution.

For their contribution to the environment, Conifers do triple duty because their needles give more exposure to the elements than deciduous trees.  Scientists believe that an acre of coniferous forest absorb up to 3 times the carbon out of the atmosphere than an acre of tropical or deciduous forest.

When given the option, a wide variety of birds and wildlife would rather make their home in a conifer than in a deciduous tree.  I have a friend who once counted more than 100 nests in her neighbour’s Colorado Spruce that was being cut down.  Seeds found in cones are a dependable food source and nests are built in small corners, protected from predators and wind.

Conifers offer unparalleled benefit for farmers looking for wind protection.  And homeowners cannot beat conifers to give privacy for backyards.  In front yard landscapes, dwarf conifers are the go-to plants for foundation plantings and ornamental gardens.