Library addresses invasive plants, drainage issues

May 9—Plants established years ago as attractive ground cover at Meadville Public Library have proved a little too effective at covering the ground and anything else in their path, according to Dan Slozat, the library's executive director.

"It will go anywhere and everywhere — and it has," Slozat said Wednesday of the chameleon plant surrounding several portions of the building, which is located at 848 N. Main St. "It slowly just took over everything so we couldn't even get other plants to grow past June because it would just overwhelm everything else."

The combination of the persistent perennial and poorly graded soil around the 99-year-old building has led to more than just gardening issues, according to Slozat. Water infiltration has affected two parts of the library's basement level, seeping into both the storytime theater and teen area.

To address both issues, Slozat said, an excavator was on hand Tuesday, scraping chameleon and "a ton of topsoil" from around the building as well as "mounds and mounds of mulch" that was unsuccessful in halting the spread of the chameleon but that did retain additional moisture that contributed to the water infiltration. Slozat estimated the chameleon was originally planted 20 to 25 years ago.

Removing the existing soil is expected to address much of the chameleon problem and regrading the surface is expected to help address the drainage issues. In hopes of preventing a return of the chameleon, a cover crop mixture of rye, crimson clover and radishes will be planted around the building this summer.

"It will look a little bit like we've got a field going," Slozat said.

More drastic steps were necessary because common pesticides are not effective against chameleon, according to Slozat.

A North Carolina Extension webpage devoted to chameleon supports the assertion.

"This plant can become problematic to remove once established," the page warns. "Exercise caution when using this plant in the landscape by putting it in a 1- to 2-gallon container in the ground, or an area bounded by sidewalk or driveway to contain it."

The ultimate goal is to establish a mix of native species and pollinator plants over the next year or two. Seating and tables are also planned for the building's south side.

The excavator is expected to return later this week to regrade soil on the library's south face. The work will not affect parking or pedestrian traffic, Slozat said.

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at