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I just spent an hour working in the Greenbelt. Soon after I came back in the house I heard something drop onto the vinyl floor next to me. I looked down and this is what I saw.
The snail must have attached itself to my blue jeans. I snapped a photo of it, appreciated its beauty and took it back outside!
Our May 12th work party was a collaborative effort between GreenFriends, Green Seattle Partnership, Bridge2Beach, and neighbors. Thirty-two volunteers participated in the event. The five team leaders were GreenFriends members and/or neighbors. Additional GreenFriends members and neighbors helped with the sign in process and photography.
Twenty-five additional volunteers had pre-registered through the Bridge2Beach and Green Seattle Partnership event calendars. Twenty-one of them were from the U.W.’s Introduction to Environmental Science course. The UW students who had worked at our May 9 event could also be considered part of this collaboration since they did so much to prepare the planting sites for the work that was done on the 12th.
The volunteers arrived by car, bus and light rail. Once they had signed in they each picked up a pair of gloves and listened to an orientation. The various work opportunities were presented and then the participants divided into three teams.
Sixteen of the volunteers and their team leaders formed a bucket brigade to carry wood chip mulch from the city street into the Greenbelt. Once on the site, the mulch was placed around approximately 300 plants which had been planted and mulched in October or November of last year. Since there is no water source on the site, the additional mulch will help hold in moisture during the dry summer months.
Click on any of the galleries to enlarge the photos.
The second team consisted of six volunteers and the team leader. They removed a dense cover of invasive ivy, blackberry vines, and holly from an area on the eastern border of the site. While there will be many other teams working in this area in the future, the transformation that occurred during this three hour work party was remarkable.
After (These photos show only a small segment of the work this team did that day.)
The third team was comprised of the team leader and three other volunteers. They worked in an area that is north of the site we’ve been restoring. In three hours time, they cut survival rings around eleven trees! In addition, they began to remove ivy and blackberry vines from the land in the vicinity of those trees. [Note: Ivy kills trees. We create a survival ring by removing ivy on a tree from ground level to shoulder height. That way the ivy that is higher up will die off without creating the risk of pulling dead or dying branches onto ourselves or other people.]
While I didn’t take a photo of this area prior to the work party, you can get a sense of what it was like by looking at the backgrounds of the photos below.
I had eagerly awaited this particular work party, and it was everything I had hoped for. We had finished mulching all of the planting areas and accomplished significant invasive plant removal in two new areas.
- Remove blackberries and other weeds from pathways all over the site.
- Remove weeds from all over the site as they pop up again.
- Take apart dried debris piles that are ready to be spread on the paths.
- Remove invasive plants from small areas on this site that have not been cleared before.
- Continue clearing the larger areas we worked on during this work party
We’ve dug out and/or gathered so much trash in our Greenbelt restoration site. Most of it is garbage and is hauled away. One day last year, though, a student found a plastic dinosaur and put it on a protruding tree root in my yard. I loved the gesture, and the dinosaur, and decided to keep it. I ended up giving it a home in one of my ferns. Since ferns were in existence before dinosaurs, that fern seemed like an appropriate home.
A few weeks later, I found another dinosaur and placed him in the same fern. This is a photo I took of the dinosaurs last July.
The fern has grown so much since then. Here is a photo I took this week!
I suppose once the fronds get bigger, their weight will bring them down and the plant won’t be as high as it is now… but I wonder if the dinosaurs will ever be able to see each other through the fern again.
Many of the volunteers who help us with our GreenFriends Greenbelt restoration project are students from the University of Washington’s Introduction to Environmental Science course. We are having a big work party this coming Saturday, May 12th, but I decided to offer one mid-week as well. Susan Zeman, a Green Seattle Partnership Forest Steward in a park just south of ours agreed to help me lead the work party. Seventeen students participated. They were a delight to work with.
Susan led a work group in an area that is packed with invasive holly, blackberries and bamboo. It is also an area that has many red twig dogwood plants and a red flower from a rhododendron bush can be seen in the distance. Susan’s group was tasked with starting the process of removing the invasive plants so that the native plants can thrive.
While it will take many work parties to free the area from invasive plants, the group made a lot of progress during this three hour work party.
They were even able to dig out a huge clump of bamboo.
Towards the end of the work party, the students carried all of the invasive plants they had removed to the “Rack Zone”, a place on the site where the debris dries out on racks. By being kept off the ground, the vines and other invasives will not be able to re-root.
The second group of students removed blackberry vines, bindweed and other weeds that had started to sprout in all of the planting areas.
They also removed any wood chip mulch that was too close to the base of the plants. (When we spread wood chip mulch we take care to create a “donut hole” around each plant, keeping the wood chips from actually touching the plants. When it rains, the chips tend to slide into that empty space.) These students cleaned weeds and chips from the donut holes around approximately 500 plants!
When they finished cleaning up the planting areas, they pulled out ivy, blackberry and bindweed vines that were in the paths and/or mixed in the ferns that are scattered throughout the site.
Every work party adds to the miracle that is occurring on this site. As I was writing this post, I came across a photo that was taken on March 15. It shows what one area looked like two weeks after trees, shrubs and ground covers were planted in it.
This is what that same area looks like today.
Next steps: On Saturday May 12 we will create a big bucket brigade for the purpose of spreading more wood chips around plants that were planted back in October and November of 2017. The work that the students did in this (May 9th) work party will make that process much easier. We will also be clearing ivy and other invasive plants from parts of the property that we have not worked on before.
Last week’s photo challenge was to share a photo of something “unlikely”; something that may fit into the category of “never say never”.
I, for the most part, stopped saying “never” decades ago when I realized that many, if not most, of the things that I said “never” to ended up being an important part of my life journey.
I first recognized that pattern in my early 40’s when in a span of 2 years I became a devotee of an Indian guru (and still am), a “groupie” of a rock band named “Tribal Therapy” (for about a year), and started going to an African-American Pentecostal church (for about 15 years.) At the time when these life changes began, I had described myself as being somewhere between an agnostic and an atheist for 20 years. If, at that time, someone had told me these things would become a life focus of mine, I would have adamantly said “never… no way… not a chance”.
The other area where I have moved from “never” to it being a life focus is photography. I took some photos as a teenager, a college student and when my children were young but at some point developed the belief that photography keeps one from being in the moment; that you don’t “live” when you are focused on preserving a past moment.
I started blogging in 2014. I soon decided that my posts looked better when there were photos in them. Since most photos on the internet are copyrighted, I started looking for ones in the public domain. While over the years I have found some good sources, like pixabay.com and Creative Commons, finding free photos was a very time consuming endeavor at first. It occurred to me that I could solve that problem by taking photographs of my own.
As my interest in nature developed, I became interested in nature photography. At that point, a whole new world opened up for me.
I even bought a microscope and began to snap pictures with my iPhone and an adapter.
I suspect photography will be in my life for a long time.
I will continue to make it a practice to (almost) never say never.
This new song and music video from Nimo of Empty Hands Music was written with graduates in mind but I believe the wisdom it contains is an an important reminder to all of us. I love it!
On November 15, 2017, a corporate group from DocuSign came to work at our restoration site. The event was held on their Global IMPACT Day. At that time, I looked up the philosophy behind Impact Day and found this statement:
We believe character is defined through action. With DocuSign IMPACT, we are committed to putting this character into action by harnessing the power of DocuSign’s people, products, and profits to make a difference in the global communities in which our employees and customers live and work.
During that work party, the 42 DocuSign volunteers planted 330 shrubs and ground covers.
Last Friday (April 27), DocuSign held another IMPACT day, and once again they chose our site to be one of the options. This time we had 20 volunteers from DocuSign and a student from the University of Washington’s Introduction to Environmental Science class.
Our staff consisted of Claire (GreenFriends), Jeb (Forterra) and me (GreenFriends and Green Seattle Partnership.)
I had been working with Andrew and Maksim from DocuSign to plan the event. Maksim attended the work party as well. His help that day was invaluable.
The group signed in, picked up gloves, listened to a short orientation…
… divided into three teams and began to work.
Team 1 gathered the remaining wood chips from our mulch pile and placed them around each plant in 2 1/2 planting areas. The mulch will hold in moisture and make it more likely that the plants will survive the summer if there is little to no rain. (In March there was 15 cu. yd. of mulch in that pile. At that time, it was 6-8 feet high!)
Team 2 removed weeds. While all of this land had been cleared during the year, shoots of blackberry, ivy and bindweed vines were popping up throughout the site. After the work party, I discovered that the group had weeded more than 13,500 sq.ft. of land. The ground looked so clean and open.
(Note: Two of our planting areas contain lots of horsetails. Horsetails are native plants; ones that were here before there were dinosaurs. We leave most of the horesetails alone, removing them only when they are crowding out other native plants.)
Team 3 worked on a part of the site that we hadn’t worked on before. It is located on the west side of Cheasty Boulevard. We chose to start in a place where there are some gigantic trees. They are located near the bottom of a steep slope. The team cleared blackberry vines and ivy from the ground and made survival rings around four big cottonwood trees. (Note: A survival ring is created by removing ivy from all sides of a tree starting at ground level and going to shoulder height. Cut off from their roots, the rest of the ivy in the tree will die off.)
The group created two drying racks behind the trees. All of the debris was placed on these racks in order to prevent the vines from reaching the ground and regrowing.
These “Before” and “After” photos show the dramatic changes the team made in this area.
Once again, the DocuSign volunteers (and the UW student) did incredible work. I look forward to the possibility that they will return here in November for their next Global Impact Day!