What’s Your Position?

The Garden Club of Hartford is one of 201 member clubs of the Garden Club of America (GCA). GCA has long been committed to conservation – clean water, clean air, reducing carbon emissions, pollinator protection and much else. Both GCA’s Conservation and National Affairs & Legislation Committees work diligently to keep its 18,000 members and the public informed about environmental issues in front of our legislators. For a look at GCA’s position papers on topics such as sustainable agriculture, food safety, strategies to address climate change, native plant preservation and a host of other issues, visit

The Garden Club of America Conservation Pledge

To preserve America’s beauty and natural heritage for future generations, we pledge to:

  • promote conservation stewardship through environmental education and advocate scientifically-based environmental legislation;
  • work to protect endangered species, especially flora, to promote biodiversity and to conserve natural resources;
  • encourage the responsible use of our public lands for the benefit of all citizens; and
  • work to reduce industrial, municipal, and household waste and advocate the prevention of pollution of soil, air, and water.


Managing Invasives

Poison Ivy

All of us have dealt with invasive plants or organisms at some point in our own gardens. Since it takes awhile for invasives to take over our landscapes, it stands to reason that it can take time to get rid of them for good. One of the nastiest plants to eradicate is poison ivy. What’s the best way to get rid of it? Here are some options to consider.

Pulling poison ivy (while wearing gloves) is probably the best way to get rid of it. However, one must take care not to get the plant oils on skin and clothing, and roots can be tough to deal with.

Smothering the plants by placing a sheet of heavy cardboard, plastic or rubber over the area can also be effective. This method will kill plants, but may not eradicate “runners,” roots that will reach beyond the edges of the covered area to sprout.

Spraying the plants with a natural spray appeals to many environmentally minded people. Dissolve one cup salt in a gallon of water and add a tablespoon of dish soap to create a solution that can be sprayed on poison ivy. Spraying can work well in the short run, but will likely need to be repeated several times. Spraying white vinegar on the plants is another common treatment. One thing to watch: these sprays can kill neighboring desirable plants, so take care to spray accurately.

Dousing the poison ivy with boiling water, poured over the roots, will also kill invasive poison ivy. As with the spraying technique, it may take several tries to completely destroy hidden roots.

Using commercial herbicides kills poison ivy, but usually the products have to be used at high concentrations. Natural treatment is safer, but commercial herbicides will get the job done. Use judiciously as a last resort.

After getting rid of poison ivy, it is important to seal plant remains in a bag and dispose off-site. Do NOT burn poison ivy, as burning can result in severe eye irritation and possible respiratory damage. Composting may result in accidental contact later on.

And speaking of contact later on — urushiol, the oily allergen in the plant, can remain active and come back to haunt you for months, or even years! Wash all clothing and tools with a degreaser, alcohol or vinegar to thoroughly remove the persistent oil.

Information from, How to Kill Poison Ivy

Invasive Crazy Snake Worms

Crazy snake worms, or Amynthas Agrestis, have become the talk of gardeners and naturalists across the country, as the worms have destroyed golf courses, lawns, and forests in the US. The worm, which behaves more like a hyperactive snake, is believed to have arrived in the 1980’s on plant material from Japan and Korea. This particular worm grows to about eight inches long and is identifiable by a light-colored band called a clitellum, which encircles its body.

Crazy snake worms do damage by breaking down the soil to such a degree that the soil cannot hold water and the soil dries out. In forests, the worm eats whatever it encounters on the forest floor, destroying the spongy layer that lies on top of the soil. As the spongy layer, also called “the duff layer,” disappears, the germination medium for most of the understory plants can no longer support growth of tree and bush saplings.

Of course, this kind of destruction only sets off a ripple effect for further environmental damage. Amphibians like salamanders find themselves without their habitat, as do ground-feeding and nesting birds. Invasive plants such as Barberry find their opportunity to take over because of the bare soil. Deer turn towards eating saplings instead of other food sources typically available on a healthy forest floor, so forests stop their natural regeneration process.

To date, there is no reliable way to contain these crazy snake worms. We can, however, discourage their spreading by never releasing worms from fishing into the water or woods, nor dumping in compost bins, but disposing of them in the trash. As gardeners, we can rinse the roots of new plants to eliminate worm eggs that might stick on the plants’ roots. Using less compost and mulch may create a less desirable environment for the worms, and we can switch to pine bark mulch that the worms don’t like. Before purchasing mulch, always inspect for the crazy, wriggling activity of these worms – apparently an unmistakable sight

Information from ‘Crazy snake worm’ threatening forests, gardens across northeast


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