Wildflower Woods is an active restoration project and demonstration area that began in 2010 as a tool for teaching visitors about healthy forests. This area of the preserve is unique because it is totally fenced off—keeping native plants protected from white-tailed deer. Protection from deer browsing increases native plant survival, growth, and reproduction.
Since 2010 we have planted small trees, shrubs, ferns and wildflowers to restore the forest understory in Wildflower Woods. Many plants that were once absent from this area, like elderberry (Sambucus sp.) and red trillium (Trillium erectum), have also returned on their own in the absence of deer. Unfortunately, invasive plants are also incredibly common in this area so the work in Wildflower Woods is never done! Every year groups of volunteers and staff work together to remove invasive plants and replace them with natives. Some invasive seeds can remain in the soil for 15 or more years, so it’s important to keep invasive species management efforts consistent year after year.
It is unlikely we will someday claim Wildflower Woods as invasive free, but it is important to recognize the importance of creating forest understories primarily dominated by native plants. That’s why we focus our efforts on planting native plants that are likely to spread throughout Wildflower Woods, and we remove invasive plants that have the greatest potential to reduce native plant abundance. We also remove new or emerging invasive species to keep them from spreading to other parts of the preserve.