Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer of our discontent


Die, Monster, Die
tools of the trade
 Mt. Baker Park is really a garden.  Like any man made structure it needs maintenance; weeding, mulching, planting.  Now is the season for weeding the large woody invasive species: Butterfly Bush, Himilayian Blackberry, Hawthorn, Cherry, Holly and Laurel.  We have pulled all the smaller stems with shovel and weed wrench, now we have to make the larger ones into a dead snag for wildlife habitat and to make room for the conifers we have planted.


Add Copper Wire


 The large invasive have their purpose; they provide canopy in the hot summer, and habitat until the conifers are able to make a canopy of their own. They have crowded out the native maples and cedars, the understory natives as well have suffered from the aggressive holly and laurel, and the blackberry has suffocated all the varieties of groundcover that a healthy forest has.  Now the time has come when the plants are at maximum photosyntheses production, when they are drawing water from the soil and pushing it out to the leaves, when the leaves send sugars down to the roots. A technique of poisoning the trees is to drive copper nails into the cambial layer, sending oxidizing metal into the leaves, in this case I am drilling through the tree, and putting copper wire into the hole, an experiment for the summer.





The planting is done and all we can do now is wait and hope we put enough mulch down to keep the roots wet until the fall rains come. The forest is filled with the sounds of children playing at the beach, motor boats on the lake, ice cream vendors and fireworks. Summer in the city is a beautiful and terrible thing to behold.

The trees are leafed out as full as they will become this year, a deep canopy of broadleaf maple and indian plum keeps the tender hemlock and cedar saplings cool and wet for now.  Parts of the seep are drying into hard concrete consistency, the open canopy in the middle of the site is cleared now and the sun is sapping the moisture from the soil, making it necessary to get a good layer of mulch over any bare ground exposed from removing ivy and blackberry. Pockets of oregon grape, thimble berry, cascara and hazlenut are scattered around the clearing.  The plants have been ordered for fall, now we weed and wait.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Feb 8th 2014

One of the driest winters in living memory puts a little stress on the planting that we have done lately

The multiple hard frosts have laid the sword ferns flat, conserving water until the rains come again. Tonight we have a unusually heavy snow for seattle, the first precipitation in two weeks, hopefully more to come in the next weeks.


A large group came from starbucks on the Martin Luther King day of sharing event January 20th, a new tradition of voluntarism that holiday has spurred.
About 50 people in all, moving 40 yards of wood chips up the hill into the deep woods, clearing english ivy on the clay lens area.
The physical work is accompanied by the shared memory of the site by our legacy forest steward Del, he has contributed the last 8 years of his retirement tirelessly advocating and working directly to reforest the Mt. Baker natural area.
Proof that you can't have a future if you don't have a past, Del is the inspiration for the next generation of forest stewards. Our lives as homo sapians are brief on this earth compared to arboreal life, the story of Mt. Baker park will be written in the trees and plant matrix that Del has planted here.

We had a visit from GSP biologist Gillian Weed to evaluate the site for the Natural Area Crew (NAC) to assist with special tools in cutting the Himalayan Blackberry  thicket in the middle of the site and removing large invasive trees like Holly and Hawthorn.  She also began her career in neighboring Coleman park as a crew leader and had several hard won lessens to tell us about making compost 'rafts' of weeds we pull and proper placement in planting.

The Next big work day is March 8th, with the NAC team assisting, and hopefully more mulch delivered.