Greenbelt Restoration Work Party: August 3, 2019

The August 3 work party was the biggest we’ve had in a long time. Volunteers included six team leaders, 19 students from the UW’s Introduction to Environmental Science class, a friend of one of the students, two people who found us on the Green Seattle Partnership Event Page, and a neighbor who comes to almost all of our work parties.

The event started with an orientation that included a welcome, staff introduction, information about project history, safety tips, schedule of the day and more. We planned to have two work sessions, with a snack break in the middle.

After the orientation we divided into six teams and started to work.

Team 1

Shirley’s team focused on watering the plants in the southern planting areas. Any plant that showed any sign of distress received two gallons of water. The team watered 90 plants! The photos below show this team at work. (In the background of the fourth and fifth photos below, you can also see neighbor John removing blackberry vines and blackberry root balls.)

Click on any of the photo galleries to enlarge the photos.

Team 2

Claire’s team worked in the Rack Zone, an area that used to be filled with drying racks. We put all of the invasive blackberry vines, ivy and other weeds on drying racks so that they don’t re-root. Earlier this year, we took down most of those racks and spread the dried debris around the Rack Zone. After the debris has had more time to break down and become soil, the Rack Zone will become another planting area.

During the August 3 work party, the volunteers removed weeds that were growing in the Rack Zone; spread dried debris that had been brought there from other racks on the site; and took apart the rest of the original Rack Zone racks.

On January 22, 2019, I had been surprised to see a shovel lying against the Rack Zone wall. On January 23, I was even more surprised to see an unpotted plant in the same place. The plant was tagged with blue and white checkered flagging tape which meant that it had been planted during the November 2017-March 2018 planting season… but I never found an empty hole on our site. Where had it come from?

I had no idea if the plant was dead or alive, but since I couldn’t think of a rational reason for these occurrences, I decided it was “supposed” to be the first shrub we planted in the Rack Zone even though I had planned to wait another year before planting that area. So I planted the mystery plant.

It took months before it became obvious the shrub was alive, and longer still before we determined it was an oceanspray shrub. That plant not only survived, it thrived. This is what the once possibly dead plant looks like now!

Team 3

My team completed jobs in three different parts of the site. They learned how to build a drying rack and then built one, cut dead branches from an old vine maple shrub, and removed two patches of invasive ivy. (The first photo is of the new rack; the photo under it is the group removing the dead branches of the shrub, the vertical photo and the fourth one are of the team removing ivy and the last photo shows one of areas after they cleared ivy from it.)

Team 4

Dave’s team worked in the southeast part of the site. That area had never been completely cleared and had been covered by tall weeds for some time. Recently, long blackberry vines had also invaded the area.

This is what that section of the site looked like at the beginning of the work party.

It was really hot in that section of the site, so at one point during the morning, we decided to move the group to a cooler area. Three of the five members of the group preferred to work in the sun so they stayed put.

The photo below is of Subgroup A working.

And this is what that area looked like at the end of the first work session.

Clearly there is much more clearing to do here but the group made tremendous progress.

Subgroup B removed blackberry root balls in an area where volunteers had cut down blackberry vines during the July 29 work party. Prior to that work party the blackberry vines had been so dense that you couldn’t walk through them. The next set of photos are of Subgroup B working.

Team 5 Antje

During the July 28 work party Antje led a group who removed weeds from both sides of the Hanford Stairs. Her August 3 team continued that work. In many places along the stairs, native fringe cup plants were covered by a layer of an invasive buttercup plants. The team’s challenge was to remove the buttercup plants without removing the fringe cup.

This is what one of those areas looked like on July 27.

And this is what some of the areas looked like when we took our break on August 3.

Team 6

Christine’s team worked in an area that is on the far side of the Hanford Stairs. At the beginning of the work party, there were many blackberry shoots, grass and other weeds in this section. By break time most of the invasive plants were gone and the native plants were much more visible.

The work party had begun at 10 am. At 11:30 we took a 20 minute snack break. We decided to use the second work session to spread wood chips on one of the paths in the site. We did that by creating a wood chip bucket brigade that went from a wood chip pile on Cheasty Boulevard, up the Hanford Stairs, into the Greenbelt and to the end of the lower path. Buckets were filled at the wood pile and then passed up the line until they reached the people who were pouring the wood chips onto the path. Once the buckets were empty, they were passed down the line until they again reached the wood chip pile. There, they were refilled and the whole process started once again.

Remember, you can click on the photo gallery to enlarge the photos.

In 45 minutes, we had created the bucket brigade and spread wood chips over a path that is about 250 feet long! When we finished that job, we put away the tools and supplies and gathered for a closing.

The August 3 event was another very successful work party. I’m always astounded by how much volunteers can accomplish in three hours time. The old adage, “many hands make light work” is true!

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I feel so grateful for all of the volunteers who participated in this work party as well as for those who have worked here in the past or will work here in the future. Every volunteer leaves having made a significant contribution in creating “Another Future Healthy Forest”.

Greenbelt Restoration Site: The Plants are Growing Fast!

The Greenbelt trees, shrubs and ground covers are growing so fast. Many are flowering; some are developing fruit or seed pods. All of the photos in this post were taken in May and June of 2019.

Most of the trees are now four to five feet tall; some of them are even taller.

Another example of “fast growing” is the Elderberry shrub in the photo below. When we planted it on March 15, 2019 it was a stem with one leaf. Three months later, this is what it looked like:

Some of the elderberry plants we planted in spring of 2018 are now more than ten feet tall!

The blackberry vines, bindweed, and other weeds, are also growing fast. If you live in or are visiting the Seattle area, we could use your help in removing them. Leave a comment below if you would like more information about upcoming work parties.

Beauty in the Greenbelt: Oceanspray

We’ve planted more than a dozen oceanspray shrubs in our forest restoration site. Some of them may have had a few blossoms last year, but many more have them this year.

This week I saw oceanspray shrubs in other Seattle parks that were 13 feet high and nearly as wide. It will be interesting to see how big the ones in our restored forest grow.

FOTD

Mystery in the Greenbelt: Followup

In the days after our January 21 forest restoration work party, some peculiar events occurred. I wrote about them in Mystery in the Greenbelt.

I don’t know where the mystery shovel or the mystery plant came from. The only clue was the blue and white checkered flagging tape that was hanging from one of the branches of the plant. We had put that tape on all of the trees, shrubs and ground covers we planted during the 2017-18 planting season. But I still haven’t found a hole or a missing plant.

At the time, I decided that since there was no rationale explanation for the mystery, I would accept a non-rational one. I concluded that the plant was sitting on the side of The Rack Zone because it was “supposed” to be the first plant we planted in that area.

[The Rack Zone is located in the foundation of a house that we believe burned down in the 50’s. We have put all the blackberry, ivy and bindweed vines plus all of the weed we have removed since early in 2017 on drying racks in that area. During the January 21 work party, we took apart all but three of the drying racks and spread the contents over the concrete foundation. Our plan has been to eventually use that space as a planting area. The first photo below shows The Rack Zone after we had spread most of the dried debris on January 21. We have continued to add dried debris to that area since then. The second photo shows one of those work parties.]

So I planted the mystery shrub in The Rack Zone. I didn’t know what kind of plant it was and I didn’t know if it was alive.

When most of the plants on the site began to bud this year and that one didn’t, I thought it was probably dead. Then on March 18th some tiny buds appeared!

When I looked at the shrub again on March 21, there were leaves.

It was beginning to look like the shrub was an Oceanspray plant. In the days that followed, leaves emerged from all over the plant.

March 29
March 29

We now have a plant in The Rack Zone and it IS Oceanspray. I am eager to discover how it reacts to being in that environment. I hope one day it looks like this Oceanspray shrub I saw last summer.

FOTD