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.