2014 Planting Project
The weekends of May 31st, June 1st and June8th, June 9th Conservancy volunteers turned out in force to restore wildlife habitat on a former demolition site in the Hilltop Reservation. Foreign invasives like mugwort, privet, bush honeysuckle and Japanese knotweed were replaced with native trees, shrubs and plants including: flowering white dogwood, redbud, arrowwood, serviceberry (2 sub-species), black chokeberry, bee balm / horsemint, spiderwort, panicled aster and lavender hyssop.
This new restoration site is located on the west side of the main service road, a few yards north of the entrance gate behind the Highlands at Hilltop apartment complex. This past fall and winter, volunteers gradually cleared the area of invasive shrubs, fallen branches and large rocks, then earlier this spring we tackled the dense infestation of mugwort. By end of May the site was ready to plant.
Over two weekends we dug planting holes (removing demolition debris like chunks of concrete / brick / asphalt / metal), then prepped the holes with new soil and compost. And then we planted, mulched, watered and hung deer fencing so the new natives could mature unmolested by Bambi over the next 3-5 years -- quite a production!! The Conservancy will continue to monitor the site to ensure the plantings survive and that mugwort and Japanese knotweed do not re-invade.
Most of the trees and shrubs were obtained at low cost from the NJ Forest Nursery , some were donated by Verona Township, and most of the perennials were propagated in my backyard. Fence stakes and netting were provided by Essex County. Total cost for the planting was less than $500.
Funded 100% by the Hilltop Conservancy (via membership dues and individual donations). Well done, volunteers!!