Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn An Oasis for Birds and Birders | Page 15

Eternally Green: Sustaining Mount Auburn & the World Around Us Narcissus/Beech Habitat Restoration 2012 View showing a section of the banks above Narcissus Path which will be re-planted. by Candace Currie, Director of Planning & Sustainability and Dennis Collins, Horticultural Curator Imagine birding at Mount Auburn and walking through a native habitat corridor rather than from one destination “hotspot” like Auburn Lake to another like Consecration Dell. We have a plan to create such a pathway. The Beech Avenue/Narcissus Path area, once the location of Forest Pond, south of Indian Ridge and north of Consecration Dell, will undergo transformation this summer. Generous gifts from the Anthony J. and Mildred D. Ruggiero Memorial Trust and private individuals provided the funding to complete this vital habitat restoration. Chair, The Beech/Narcissus corridor is long and narrow, spanning only 90’ at its widest point and covering an area of approxi- mately 1.1 acres. From the higher west side along Beech Avenue down to Narcissus Path (a drop of more than 20’) one sees mature native oaks forming the canopy, together with several large hemlocks. The understory contains several significant swaths of the native American holly, whose fruit has a high animal habitat value. The fruit is eaten by over twenty species of birds including the Cedar Waxwing, Hermit Thrush, thrashers, finches, and cardinals. The conceptual design for the new plantings capitalizes on the clusters of native American holly that now feature impressive mature trees. Using these as the primary focal points in the landscape, the plan introduces new forms of holly and uses them as the thematic element running through the landscape. From a wildlife habitat perspective, the variety of different hollies offers several important advantages. One advantage is that the fruit of different species ripen at dif- ferent times of the year, thereby extending the availability of food sources through the seasons. Another advantage is that holly species grow in a range of different forms: tall trees, intermediate sized shrubs, and low, thicket-forming shrubs. This variety offers a diverse array of protection and nesting opportunities, suitable for different wildlife species. This project satisfies multiple landscape objectives. It represents another sizable addition to our animal habitat- focused landscapes. It begins to connect some of our densely planted habitat spaces and satisfies our Master Plan objective to build aesthetic diversity into the overall landscape while appearing historically appropriate. It fits with our long-term sustainability objective of creating less labor-intensive landscapes that serve aesthetic needs while performing ecological functions. Even when important natural sites are spared from development, they can rapidly decline and lose their value as animal habitat without on- going management. By removing invasive plant species and returning to these sites more sustainable vegetation, this project will help us provide the long-term management necessary for Mount Auburn to continue to be the out- standing landscape that it has been for over 180 years. Spring/Summer 2012 | 13