Photo by Curtis Rindlaub
Photo by Curtis Rindlaub
Peaks Island Land Preserve
Peaks Island is small: 720 acres, barely a square mile. A visitor in 1975 could have walked a mile along the back shore or through the woods without seeing any houses. In recent years, our population has significantly increased and real estate development has dramatically changed the character of the island. Peaks Island Land Preserve protects the island’s natural areas and special places for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
We invite you to browse through our site to learn about PILP and what we do. Following are news, events, and opinions of interest to our island community.
The Home Lawn is a Non-native Monoculture
Laura Glendening, Board member
As the PILP board of directors works to find the most environmentally sound method of dealing with non-native plants on PILP land -- particularly plants that exhibit invasive qualities and monoculture tendencies -- I have been thinking about the extensive use of a plant, found
surrounding most homes, that forms a monoculture and severely limits the diversity of living
things and the health of the land. And this of course is the grass plant, which, of course, when
millions all grow together, makes a lawn.
I have one. My neighbors have them. Most people have them. A lawn is common, and thought
of as native or natural to this place. But it isn’t.
I’m not sure whether the sense of normalcy that surrounds the property-line to property-line
lawn has grown from romantic visions of luxurious European estates, or a fondness for golf
courses, or just because that’s the way things are done -- like wearing bell bottoms in the early
seventies but definitely not the later seventies (I was 11 in ‘76, and you know everything about
how society feels about the width of pant legs at age 11). For whatever reason, we’re supposed
to have lawns, and maintain them, so we do.
But, what would happen if we didn’t mow them? From personal experience, and for a variety of
reasons, I know what a not-maintained lawn is like, and I like some of the results: you get to
see the flowers of plants that are often characterized as weeds, you notice more honeybees,
crickets, toads, and butterflies, and the sight and sound of the land feels more natural, seasonal,
and charming. I did find though that I wanted an area without tall grass-and-such vegetation for
sitting in, a more tended-to spot (like lawn) for a picnic blanket, or chair, or for a few people to
My thought is that a yard should have a bit of everything. Some lawn for relaxing, visiting, and
for kids to play. Some small trees, bushes, and flowering plants for birds, bees, butterflies, and
other insects. A tall tree or two for shade, fruit, and birds too. A diverse collection of native
plants creates a biodiversity that helps all living things, including humans. The understory is
another important piece to consider: here plants grow in the inbetween space, bigger than the
grasses but smaller than big trees, holding the important middle space that often gets lost in the
hustle and bustle of lawn care. Layers of understory are like nurseries -- providing home and
security to little birds and other living things.
In this time of concern about plants that create monoculture, how can we create more plant
diversity on Peaks Island? Well, our island has approximately 983 houses that sit on an
approximate average lot of .15 of an acre. So let’s divide that in thirds: one third for the house
footprint, two thirds for current lawn. If all Peaks Island homeowners let half of their current lawn (so .05 of an acre) grow more wild-like that would add 50 acres of flowers, bushes, plant
diversity, and understory to the island. That’s a lot of acreage! Even 10 acres of increased
biodiversity (so, a portion of homeowners re-wilding a portion of their existing lawn) would go a
Peaks is a wild place, with wildness all around, in the water, sky, and land. Help keep our land
wild. Make a place in your yard for wildness, or at least plant diversity, but no bell bottoms
May 29, 2021
Celebrating our 25th anniversary has been something of a dud in this unusual year of 2020. At the changing of the year it's usual to take a look back, as well as forward, and so we're looking back 15 years, to 2005. That year, then President Brenda Buchanan wrote an article for The Island Times looking back from there at the Peaks Island Land Preserve's first 10 years. It's interesting to revisit the beginnings of our organization, and take a look at how things have changed, or not, as time has passed. This PILP at 10 link will take you to the story on our website. Happy New Year!
On a beautiful Fall day recently, about a dozen people gathered at Greenwood Gardens to learn about ways that they can support pollinators in underutilized spaces in their yard. Elizabeth Walworth led the discussion and workshop. Liz has experience in agriculture, land maintenance, and a degree in environmental studies focused on agricultural impact, and is leading PILP’s effort to establish a pollinator sanctuary below the Ice Pond dam. Seed bombs are an easy way to spread flowers. A seed bomb consists of a dollop of compost wrapped in clay and rolled in seeds. It could be easily mistaken for a chocolate truffle. Simply toss it where you want flowers to grow. The seeds germinate and the compost provides nutrients as the clay is washed away by rain. Liz had materials and a mix of native seeds, and everyone had a hand in making a few to try at home. Tossed in March, flowers in June? We’ll see! Thanks to Liz for an enjoyable and educational afternoon, and the Peaks Island Lions Club for their support.
Photo by Elizabeth Walworth
On October 8, an enthusiastic and hardworking group of volunteers (thank you to all!) helped clear the land in front of the Ice Pond in preparation for the planting of a wildflower meadow. With spades, shears, handsaws, trimmers and sheer strength, bittersweet and other invasive plants were thinned and removed to make room for wildflower seeding. 6 very full truckloads were brought to the transfer station and seeding has begun. Stay tuned for updates this spring!
Rosa Marie Iovino, who passed away on August 13, has left her estate to the Peaks Island Land Preserve. We at PILP are surprised and humbled by such a generous gift from a woman who obviously loved her home and the island.
At the discretion of the executor, Maria's home will be rented through the winter, until the estate proceeds through probate and passes to the Land Preserve. We will be considering the paths we might take that would honor Maria’s wishes for the property and that would benefit the island community.
If you like birds be sure to visit our Back Shore Bird Blog