Greenbelt Restoration Work Party: June 14

For three hours on June 14, eight volunteers worked diligently in our Greenbelt restoration site. A week before, Seattle Parks Department staff had cut down a large area of blackberry vines, leaving a lot of debris and uncovering an astonishing amount of trash.

We spent the first hour of the work party picking up trash. There is more garbage for us to pick up, but we got a good start on it.

When we began this project, there were two fields of invasive bamboo on this site. Seattle Parks Department cut the bamboo down last March. We placed the cut bamboo on drying racks so that they didn’t re-root. That bamboo is now dry.

On Wednesday, we stripped the branches from the dried bamboo canes. The canes were given away to gardeners and the branches are being used as part of our newest drying racks. (I will write a post about the drying racks soon.)

We also removed blackberry vines from plants and trees…

…. and rescued ferns and a fringe cup plant.

It was another productive and rewarding day in the Greenbelt!

Interesting Facts about Ferns

One part of our Greenbelt restoration site has so many ferns. I decided to read some articles about ferns and was fascinated by what I learned.

  • Ferns have been on earth for 360 million years.
  • The type of ferns we see now have been here for 45-50 million years.
  • Dinosaurs ate ferns, conifers, cycads and mosses.
  • Ferns were on earth 200 million years before flowers.
  • Ferns are helpful in preventing or eliminating pollution because they remove heavy metals from the air and the soil.
  • Today’s ferns are not edible because of toxicity. [Note: Maybe that is because of the heavy metal mentioned above.]
  • Some ferns have a life span of 100 years.
  • The height of ferns ranges from 2 inches to 30 feet.
  • Compressed ferns turned into fossil fuel and became the basis for oil, gas and oil.
  • Ferns reproduce from spores. They don’t have seeds or flowers.
  • There are at least 12,000 types of ferns on earth today. There may be up to 20,000 different species.
  • In North America there are 441 varieties of native ferns.
  • Ferns are vascular, circulating water and nutrients through their veins.
  • In the past, there were people who believed if they ate ferns they would become invisible. Still others believed ferns protected them against goblins and witches.

When I took this photo today, I imagined dinosaurs walking through this forest. Doing that reminded me of the Jurassic Park movies!

You can learn more about ferns from the articles below:

About Ferns

Fern

Fern Facts (Casa Flora)

Fern Facts (Soft Schools)

Five Fun Fern Facts

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Daily Prompt: Taper

Mystery, Adventure and Reward

Yesterday I took on  the challenge of removing bindweed (morning glory) and blackberry vines from a thimbleberry shrub.

The bindweed wraps itself around each stem, weighing it down and eventually killing it.

The thimbleberry leaves are beautiful. They have three to seven lobes and are soft and hairy.


I tried to unwind the bindweed from each thimbleberry stem carefully, but the leaves and stems are so fragile that I lost many of them  in the process of trying to free them.  The stems are now free from blackberry and bindweed vines but I’m going to have to get under the shrub and dig out the blackberry roots to keep it that way. We will probably have to deal with the bindweed every year.

It was fun to watch the stems straighten once they were relieved of the weight of the bindweed. The shrub still looks scraggly but it will fill in and return to the beauty it is meant to be.

The density of the bindweed made it hard to tell where the shrub began and ended. The area towards the back had a much thicker layer of bindweed.

As I started to cut it away, I realized that it wasn’t thumbleberry that was under it, it was a gigantic fern. With renewed energy, I started cutting away the bindweed. Before long, the fern was free!

I love doing this work. It is full of mystery and adventure and is so rewarding.

 

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Found in the Greenbelt: Dinosaur

On May 13th, we had a work party that included 20 University of Washington students needing volunteer hours for an Introduction to Environmental Science class. A few days later, I discovered that one of them had left me a surprise.  The student had placed this toy dinosaur near, but not in, a pile of Greenbelt trash. I’m not going to throw it away either.

At the time I found it, I washed it and waited for the pile of trash to be picked up. Today, I put it back where the student had left it. I hope it enjoys its new home. I’m imagining it experiencing a sense of freedom and triumph after having survived 30-40 years buried in the dirt.

Triumph

Shocking Revelation

I am still reeling from some information I received today. It just occurred to me to look and see if today’s Daily Prompt would fit for this situation.  Revelation is perfect!

For the last month, I’ve been looking forward to taking a Plant Identification course that was offered to Forest Stewards and other volunteers who work in Seattle’s reforestation projects. When I arrived at the class today, I discovered most of the students had been Forest Stewards for a long time and the others had at least some experience in plant identification. I, on the other hand, only know a few of these native plants.

Last month, Ananya and I had to choose the trees, shrubs and ground covers that we will be planting in our group’s Greenbelt site the end of October. We ordered nearly 400 plants. In the course of today’s class, I learned that those plants will be delivered to us unmarked. Not only that, most will be in their winter state so we may have only a twig to use for identification.

WWWWWWHHHHHHAAAAAAATTTTTTTT?

The need for me to learn to identify our plants has certainly taken on a new intensity. As I sat down to write this post, though, a couple of other thoughts came to my mind. When we ordered the plants, we had to order in quantities of 10. We ordered 10 for some varieties and 20 for others. So even though we will have to identify 400 plants, there will only be 26 different types. That seems doable.  Also, sometime prior to October we will have the opportunity to take a Winter Twig class. I will make taking that class a priority.

I am sure glad that I learned this information today, rather than discovering it when the plants are delivered. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. And I don’t have to do it alone! Ananya and I will do it together and if we need help we will get it.

Keeping My Eye on the Goal

When I was showing a friend around our Greenbelt restoration project on May 25, she saw a red flower in the distance. It was too far away, and too covered by invasive plants, to know what it was. We guessed it was a rhododendron flower. (Mystery in the Making).

At the time, I was in the midst of preparing for Amma’s programs so wasn’t able to make my way to the flower. Last Saturday, I decided to do whatever it took to get close. I gathered my tools and headed for the thicket. I took the photo above just before I began to cut my way through the dead branches, blackberry vines, laurel, ivy, and downed trees.

As I worked, I realized how much I missed the excitement of freeing the trees in the Greenbelt and discovering what was under the mass of invasive plants. Most of our recent work has been to dig out blackberry root balls from areas where blackberry vines have been cut down.

Every so often I looked up to see how close I was to the red flowers.

I progressed much faster than I expected. At one point, I realized that a branch I cut was not laurel, it was a rhododendron branch. Soon I saw more rhododendron branches.

There is a steep slope along the eastern border of the property. For liability reasons, the City of Seattle does not allow us to work on slopes that steep. I noticed that the rhododendron was on the last piece of flat land before the slope began. I continued on my way, getting ever closer to my goal.

Closer and closer.

And then I was there. I knew there was no way I was going to free the whole bush, at least not on that day, but I was able to touch one of the flowers. I wish the photo was clearer but I’m glad that I have it. I realized if I had waited much longer to solve this mystery, all of the petals would have fallen off.

I looked up and saw this sight.

I also enjoyed seeing the rest of the bush.

There were so many branches, going every direction. They reminded me of a pretzel.

When I looked through the thicket, I thought I saw more rhododendron bushes. I wonder what other discoveries await me. I look forward to the time when we focus on clearing that part of the Greenbelt. For now, though, I will go back to digging out blackberry root balls!

Mystery in the Making

On Thursday, when I was showing a friend the restoration work we are doing in the Greenbelt, she asked me about the red she was seeing through the trees. It was deep into an uncleared and presently unreachable part of the project and I had never seen it before. We walked as close to it as we could get, but still couldn’t identify it. Our guess was that it is a rhododendron bush. If so, it is a first on that property.

The next day, I walked back to that area to see if I could get closer. I could still barely see the blossoms. In taking an enlarged view, this is what I saw.

I walked a different direction to see if I could get a better view. From that vantage point, I could spot a bit of red, but it was very tiny. See if you can see it.

So much of the property has already been cleared of blackberry and ivy vines and other invasive plants. I am enjoying the thought of making new discoveries when we begin working on the remaining areas of “uncharted territory”!

Were They Once Beloved Toys?

Yesterday, when I found these toys in the rubble of the house foundation that was recently unearthed in the Greenbelt, I got teary. Who were the children who had lost these toys? Had they cried when they realized they were missing? Were they once beloved toys?

Then I became puzzled. When I moved into this neighborhood in 1973, I had been told that there once had been a house in the lot behind mine; one that had burned in the 50’s. Even though this foundation is not directly behind my house, I have assumed it is the house that I was once told about. These toys had not burned, so had the house not burned either? If not, what had destroyed it?

The foundation has probably been covered by blackberry vines since sometime in the 60’s. Did the toys show up on the lot after that time? Had they been thrown over the embankment by inhabitants of the home above it? No one on this neighborhood even knew the house existed, so I will probably never know the answers to these questions.

I brought the stuffed animals and doll into my house and cleaned them to the best of my ability. The transformation was remarkable!

Tomorrow, we will be holding another work party in the Greenbelt. Twenty students from an Environmental Science class at the University of Washington have signed up to participate. I wonder what we will find as we continue our endeavor to return this piece of land to the beautiful forest it once was.

 

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