Blue Heron landscape Design | 2011 January

January 2011

22 Jan Remembering Les Merhoff


Leslie J. Merhoff


On Wednesday December 22, 2010, we lost a tireless warrior in the fight against invasive species. Leslie J. Merhoff passed away suddenly as a result of a heart attack. Les was a botanist, ecologist, teacher and founder of IPANE (Invasive Plant Atlas of New England), who also lectured about invasives. I was fortunate enough to have met him quite a few years ago after he gave a lecture on invasive plants and introduced us to IPANE. He was wonderful to speak with, friendly, patient and very willing to share the his vast knowledge of the flora of New England. This past week NPR ran a very nice piece on Les and his work. The podcast is now available on Please click on the link below to learn more about this wonderful man.

You can also read his obituary here:

To learn more about he invasive species affecting New England and the Northeast please visit the following sites:



RIP Les, we will continue to fight the good fight!

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18 Jan New Information Concerning Roundup! – Updated w/part III

We have talked of the toxic nature of lawn chemicals here on the Blue Heron Blog before, and we have cautioned against the use of Roundup (a non-specific weed killer). Today over on the blog Paul Tukey is starting a three piece article on Roundup. Please visit and read, and then reconsider using this dangerous chemical.

Roundup, Part I: “A Very Serious Poison”

Roundup, Part II: “Act Now to Stop Genetically Modified Alfalfa”

Roundup, Part III: “Mankind’s Greatest Mistake”


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10 Jan My Own Carbon Footprint

Carbon footprint is one of those catch phrases that has entrenched itself in our vernacular over the last few years, and yet it’s still something few of us can really get a grasp of. Major corporations have made great proclamations about use of carbon credits to shrink their overall carbon footprint, but how many are truly making a difference and how many are simply green-washing to boost their image?

The cause of my guilt!

While blowing the leaves off the lawn last fall, guilt (as is always the case) inspired me to consider my personal carbon footprint. Using my 5 horse power blower and accompanying 2 cycle backpack blower (both frowned upon by many of the associations I proudly support) does not employ best practices for fall cleanup, but surely is offset by my many other activities… right? Let’s explore!

Now, before the villagers burn me out and string me up, let me tell you the following; we have a large lawn, just under a full acre of grass, so raking is a major chore. I no longer blow the lawn free of every last bit of detritus, as I did long ago. I leave a fair amount of leaves on the lawn and mulch them in to feed the soil organisms, and the leaves that are removed are composted in a large compost area at the base of our yard. Finally, I use no fertilizers or chemicals on the lawn at all; it is treated solely with compost tea. Still, I am not able to assuage the guilt over my carbon footprint, and secretly pray that none of my contemporaries drive by and see me committing such a heinous violation.

To bolster my defense (and lessen my guilt), I offer up my business activity as evidence. My company, Blue Heron Landscape Design, practices sustainable design, uses only organic fertilizer and many yards of compost each year in the gardens we design and care for and use native plants whenever possible in those gardens. We organically treat lawns for a small group of clients each year using the afore mentioned compost tea, organic fertilizer, and other natural amendments. Surely this activity will tip the balance in my favor when it comes to neutralizing my carbon footprint, why it might even put me in the black with carbon credits to spare.

A positive of cleanup, Leaf Pile Day!

With the jury back in and a unanimous not guilty verdict, you would think I would be satisfied, wouldn’t you? Well not so quick Mr. Darrow! You see regardless of the fact that I appear in my non-scientific way to have offset my carbon footprint; there still lingers the emissions of my tools of choice in the air surrounding my living space. My clothes reek of oil and gas. And, had I not worn hearing protection, the mild Tinnitus I currently deal with from my younger days, would blossom into a full chorus of torture. Going forward, I think I’ll do more raking and mulching, and a lot less blowing.

So, my gentle, planet friendly readers, that leaves me with the following question; do carbon credits actually affect change or is it simply another slight of hand developed to allow an easier, more profitable lifestyle? Clearly the jury is still out!

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this, please share!


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