Do you too feel the disgust as you move daily among the Zombies? Repulsive, ugly creatures looking down at you everywhere! Talbot County’s walking dead…if ever they had walked. Nowhere are you free of their shadow; dark, scary sentries standing guard right and left.
It is just so sad. They are all “born here’s,” not “come here’s;” spent their whole lives in Talbot County. Do we protect, nurture, support these neighbors of ours, try to help them recover? No, we do nothing, ignoring these pillars of our community as the life is sucked out of them right before our eyes. The Zombies of Talbot County.
I’m speaking, of course, of our roadside trees, overtaken by invasive vines and parasitic overgrowth. Maybe a little Zombie drama can pique readers’ attention to this blight we tolerate in our community. The photos below only hint at the issue: open your eyes and you’ll see the problem everywhere on the public roadsides, the face of Talbot County.
Examples are too many to list, but we must note the worst horror story: the entire west side of the Easton Bypass from St. Michaels’ Road to well south of the Oxford Road. And there’s the now-dead 30’ tree at the exact southwest corner of St. Michaels Road and the Bypass. Much bigger trees (dead or un-dead, who knows?) shrouded in vines stand along the woods lining Bay Street. Easton Rails to Trails is a travesty. Freestanding Zombie trees 100 feet apart deface farm fields along the Oxford Road, especially south of Almshouse. And tight rows line Goldsborough Neck Road north of Airport Road. These are only the well-traveled byways, but you know the same is found in Trappe, Wye Mills, Cordova…indeed to some extent along every County and State road in Talbot.
Through our inaction and indifference, native roadside trees and shrubs are being eaten alive by Porcelain Berry, English Ivy, Wild Clematis, Kudzu, Black-Swallow-wort, Mile-a-Minute Vine, and who knows what all. One does not need to know the name of the villain to know it doesn’t belong, that it’s sucking life out of, and is likely to kill the tree that supports it.
There are specific areas where attention has been paid, and our trees and roadsides look great. The streets in downtown Easton, for example, are handsome and cared for (all the greater contrast to the Rails to Trails—SO SAD, as some would tweet). But it can be done—that can be the norm, not the exception in Talbot.
We also know that vines and parasitic invasives are not a brand new problem; they have just proliferated in recent years. And a few vines (e.g., Virginia Creeper) are native and natural. Nevertheless, while all this could be ignored in past decades, this blight is redefining the look and feel of Talbot, to our collective detriment.
Because of sunlight and disturbed soil, the invasives grow mostly at the very edges of woods and tree lines (where also birds hang out, deposit seeds), and thrive also on unattended “lone wolf” trees. Seldom are they a problem even ten feet into the shade of the woods. These interlopers, once established, also create undergrowth that makes tree-care itself more difficult, inviting yet more invasives till maintenance seems impossible. Oy!
So what’s to do? Next column will address the “who/how/what/when and where” of action we need to take, as well as reporting on programs planned and underway. Meanwhile, look around. Look at your own yard, your own shared-driveway, the road you live on. And look around as you travel Talbot’s byways. We can fix this, not quickly or with ease…but we can fix it.
Dan Watson is the former chair of Bipartisan Coalition For New Council Leadership and has lived in Talbot County for the last twenty-five years.