Help Turning Cleared Red Spruce Forest Into Native Pollinator Garden

last year


First time posting. I am an amateur gardening enthusiast with a fun project ahead and I could use all of the help I can get. I am working on land in southern coastal Maine. It is an old growth Red Spruce forest. In the area I'm going to work on, the trees got knocked down in the Patriot's Day storm Nor'easter in April of 2007. a couple of years later, the trees were cut down to stumps and removed. Since then, more trees have fallen and some of them have been cleared as well.

Other than that, the open areas have been totally wild and have begun to fill up with whatever seeds are blowing around or nearby.

Species that I have identified as existing at the moment:

Ornamental Grasses

Troublesome sedge

Early Lowbush Blueberry

Common Rush

Japanese Barberry

Oxalis Stricta

American Raspberry

Eastern Hayscented Fern

River Birch

Red Spruce Trees


Pin Cherry Trees

Mosses, Ferns, other grasses, and probably a lot more I'm not finding.

I have the pleasure of visiting this land once or twice a year. Always in late July for a couple of weeks, and occasionally once or twice during another time of the year. When I visit in July there are almost no flowers in bloom and almost everything is green. It's nice and natural and I'd like to add some color and pollinators.

My goal is to repopulate a lot of this area with native pollinators that ideally already grow close by as well as with others that are native to southern Maine. I want to support the bee, butterfly, and bird communities as well as experience a visually appealing wild flower garden when I visit in July. I also want the bees etc. to have pollinators to enjoy in the spring and fall, but mostly in July.

The areas I'm mostly working with are pretty ledgy, many of these 60-80 foot tall spruce trees that came down were anchored on virtually no soil, just the ledge. others had maybe a foot or two of soil at most.

Another restriction I have is limited access to this site. I will have 3 days in late September to do the work I'm attempting to do and then I might not see the area again until July, 2020. The hayscented ferns have taken over huge areas that have been cleared. luckily for me that area I'm working on is at the edge of the area that the trees fell down and somehow the ferns have only spread to one corner of this lot. I want to remove a bunch of them maybe a 10x20' area, remove a bunch of the ornamental grasses, remove some other random green species, and replace them with the native pollinators. I'll leave the blueberries and raspberries and the blackberries (I know, the blackberries aren't native to maine, this will maybe be the primary exception). The area is also remote and not accessible by vehicle so al supplies need to be hand carried some 1000 feet to get to the location.

So here is the help I need: how to best do this to increase the chances of seeing the flowers in bloom next July?

I plan to pull out a bunch of the plants by their roots as best as possible and then spread seeds around in Late September and hope for the best come July. This is where I need advise from people who have experience. The soil is generally acidic and loamy. there are some areas that are filled with spruce needles that have fallen for hundreds of years. Not much has grown in those areas aside from blueberries and moss and some grasses. How do I plant in this spruce needle area? Will any seeds take hold in that stuff if I plant in September? Do I need to rake away a certain amount of needles and get down to better soil?

I also plan to clear areas that are covered in small red spruce growth, ranging from an few inches tall to 4-5 feet tall. I want to remove all of that and spread seeds in their place that will grow into native pollinators next season. Should I cut the small trees at ground level and spread seeds in that area leaving the roots in the soil? Should I try to remove all of the roots and disturb the soil? I'm concerned that tearing all of th roots out in some areas will expose the bedrock and the soil will be too loose to handle plant growth (the spruce roots somehow keep everything in place. These spruce trees somehow take root in almost no soil and then grow and soil sort of collects below them.

The area I'm planting in is mostly well drained and dry, but there's also an area that's kind of wet as well.

There's a small structure on the land that is surrounded by crushed stone. In the first year after putting that in, the crushed stone did little to stop plant growth (not enough was added and that ship has flown, no more is going to be added). So tall grasses are surrounding the structure and I'd like to rip these out of the gravel and I guess reseed this moister area with a native pollinator that will be lower to the ground, maybe the red and white clovers?

Here's a list of seeds that I have acquired that I want to add. Any help with the species that I should consider or specific techniques to help my chances of success, or just any words of help would be appreciated!

I have in hand:

Old Field Goldenrod x 24,000

Common Milkweed Seeds x 12,000

Black Eyed Susan x 6,000

Red Clover x 1,650

White Clover x 2,750

Wild Geranium x 250

Common Lilac tree x 450

Queen of the Prairie Pink Meadowsweet x 160 (I don't think this is native to Maine)

Pink New England Aster x 500

Purple New England Aster x 8,750

Joe Pye Weed x 8,000

That area I'm working with is about 80' x 60'

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