Friday, November 27, 2009

Photos and info needed

The blog is showing some of our history, but there are some gaps.

It would be helpful to have photos or write up about

  • Super Swampers talking to classes, teachers, college students, etc.
  • Mich. Assn. of Environmental Professionals, Nov. 2005
  • Michigan Wildflower Conference (March 2003 and at least 1 earlier year)
  • Josh's kiosk and bench
  • All Species Parade (any year)
  • any other events
If you're sorting photos some Winter evening, keep a look out for these or any other topics.

Can anyone recall the date of this event? We think it was the Ann Arbor Area Foundation meeting at the Ann Arbor Women's City Club (on Washtenaw Av.) sometime in the earliest days of the Wet Meadow project - around 1997 or 1998. Photo by Marsha P.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jeannine Palms honored by Ecology Center

On November 11, 2009, Jeannine Palms was honored by the Ecology Center for her work teaching and encouraging sustainability.

She received the Herbert Munzel Award for Environmental Activism at a ceremony that accompanied a speech by Bill McKibbon on global warming.

More deatils (and hopefully, photos) coming soon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gathering seeds to plant and to share

Super Swampers gathered seeds on Sunday, October 17, 2009. It was a sunny afternoon, so the seed heads were dry. This year we used large paper bags. Usually we grabbed a handful of stalks and bent it gently into the bag. Then we shook it or scrubbed it with our fingers, so the seeds fell into the bag.

Seeds of butterfly milkweed were ready to blow away on the breeze. It took some doing to mush them into a bag.

We also collected stiff goldenrod, ironweed, and other seeds. We have plenty to share. If you know anyone working with children or teens to create butterfly gardens or prairie projects, have them contact us.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wildflowers giving way to seed heads

While there are many wildflowers still blooming, September will see a great shift to seed production.

At this point, the species in conspicuous bloom are:
  • Aster
  • Helenium
  • Solidago

These species have seeds that are ripening:
  • Asclepias
  • Eupatorium
  • Ratibita
  • Rudbeckia
  • Vernonia
and native grasses.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Joseph Cornell to speak in Ann Arbor on Oct. 16

Many parents and teachers treasure a book called "Sharing Nature with Children" by Joseph Cornell.

It's exciting to hear he's coming to Ann Arbor soon, and a public presentation is scheduled for Friday, October 16. 2009 at 4 PM.

More details soon.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ironweed and coneflower in abundance

If you visit the wet meadows this week, you will see a profusion of dark-purple flowers on tall stems - ironweed is making its annual show. It contrasts beautifully with the light yellow blossoms of coneflower, prairie dock and stiff goldenrod.

Some joe-pye is blooming in the sunniest spots. Bee balm and milkweed blooms are nearly finished. (The wet meadows are a week or two ahead of my backyard, where there's more shade.)

The bumblebees are placidly gathering pollen, and some goldfinches were gathering insects this morning to feed their young. It's first-hand evidence of Prof. Tallamy's principle: native plants are the basis for abundant birds and other wildlife.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What's In Bloom?

Today at wet meadow II, I saw the following in bloom:
  • Bee Balm
  • Black Eyed Susan
  • Yellow Coneflower
  • Prairie Dock (just getting going)
  • Butterfly Milkweed
  • Hoary Vervain
  • Daisy Flebane
  • Common Milkweed
and the tall skinny white one.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pollinator event was bee-utiful

Our June 20 pollinator event was a lot of fun.

We had a good turnout of adults and kids, a mix of long-time Wet Meadow folks and some new friends.

Dr. Tuell brought a display case with specimens of about 100 bees native to Michigan.

She also brought a bee-vac, a re-built DustBuster that safely captures bees and puts them in small vials (about 1' x 3") so they can be safely viewed up close.

She caught some bees that were visiting wildflowers in the wet meadow, including a couple of teeny-tiny ones. (She released them at the end of the day.)

She talked about native bees and answered questions from kids and adults.

(We'll have photos soon, I hope.)

After a potluck supper, we had a brief ceremony, then Abby, Nino and Shane planted serviceberry trees in the palace of nature.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Kids See Pollinators Up Close" Saturday, June 20

"Kids See Pollinators Up Close" Saturday, June 20
at the Buhr Park Childrens' Wet Meadow

Come watch butterflies and other pollinators visiting the wildflowers.
  • MSU entomologist Julianna Tuell will capture insects for kids to safely see up close.
  • Learn how kids can be safe around bees.
  • Hear about how beneficial insects help us grow blueberries, tomatoes and other foods.
  • Kids can make a bee house (from natural materials) to take home.
Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 4:00 PM. Children must be accompanied by a parent. All are welcome at a picnic potluck at 5:15. Please leave pets at home.

Dr. Tuell speaks frequently about pollinators and native plants. She coauthored Attracting Beneficial Insects with Native Flowering Plants (MSU Extension Bulletin E-2973) and recently published a study that identified more than 100 native bee species on Michigan blueberry farms.

We'll also have a display of nest blocks from Matt Demmon.

This event is co-sponsored by Wild Ones and Natural Area Preservation.

Buhr Park is located at 2781 Packard Rd. 48104. For more information call Mark at 478-1333.

Morning at the Meadow

I passed by the wet meadow this morning and saw a few things in bloom and a nice misty feeling.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Public Meeting on Park Improvements

Several of us attended a public meeting this evening at Cobblestone Farm. The meeting was held by city parks planners to discuss 3 projects:
  • Essex Street path and wet meadow (wet meadow III!)
  • Easy Street path and expanded wet meadow I)
  • Reconfiguring the entrance to the pool/ice rink to allow better ADA access, including bikes and strollers
About 6 members of the public and 2 parks representatives were there.

The two path improvements and wet meadows are part of the Buhr Park Stormwater Master Plan. Nice to see it put to good use!

It sounds like the Essex Street path will be done this summer. It will make the path a little straighter and more level than the existing path, which should be good for the kids, parents and others who use it daily for school.
There are a few remaining questions about tieing the path in at both ends. It will be an 8 foot path and it wasn't clear that there was room to tie the path in to Essex at that width or at the other end where the school-maintained path is 4 feet wide.

The wet meadow at Essex should be very nice. Since the path will be levelled off, the grade from the path to the wet meadow will be a little steeper than it is now. There was also a little chatter about technical details - would there be a drain tile installed below the wet meadow? We also requested that seeds and/or plants for this wet meadow come from local sources.

The Easy Street path is proposed to arc southward of the existing path to enable an expanded Wet Meadow I. We talked about keeping it straight and raising it, but it seemed best to move it south in order to have a continuous wet meadow and to better tie in to the cobblestone farm. That path would be 8 feet wide and bike, ADA, stroller friendly. The design will include a foot path or trail that would go through the wet meadow, for those who want a slightly more direct and scenic route to the pool.

The Easy Street path is not on a construction schedule, but having a clear design will make it more likely when funds become available.

Improvements to the Pool/Ice Rink entrance will be to enable better access. The plan is to take off a portion of the east side of the plaza at the entrance. Remove the top set of steps and create a ramp leading down to the parking lot. At the top of the lower set of steps, a ramp will turn left (north) and go down to the sidewalk.

The Pool/Ice Rink entrance improvements are not scheduled.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Earth Day 2009 - Milkweeds!

Super Swampers staffed the table and displays at the City of Ann Arbor Earth Day celebration at Leslie Science Center.

The theme of the day and for the all species parade was 'milkweeds'. We explained the importance of milkweeds for stormwater and for all the critters that depend upon them for their mutual well-being.

People who visited the Buhr Park Children's Wet Meadow table were treated to free milkweed seeds. Many of them also purchased seed packets of wildflowers from the wet meadows (see previous post).

The also learned about the importance of wetlands in capturing stormwater in the ever popular paint tray stormwater model. See several of the smallest super swampers running the show below:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Seed Planting and Sorting

Today the Super Swampers spread seed that they had collected in Wet Meadows I & II.

We spent the most time planting in the sandy part of the upper basin of Wet Meadow II. We planted little bluestem seeds individually under moss that is growing there.

While we were planting, we found some visitors there, or at least some signs of visitors. Do you recognize these homes? It looks like there were two different creatures. The one on the left is some kind of red ant. The right one? We don't know.

We also sorted seeds into seed packets that we'll sell at Earth Day and other events.

Finally, we prepared for the all species parade at the Ann Arbor Earth Day festival. We plan to go dressed as various milkweeds and the critters that depend on them and help them. Would that be a group of symbiotic friends?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fox Hollow Prairie Planting

A new partnership with the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission began today when a team of Super Swampers planted the new Fox Hollow Prairie in County Farm Park.
The seeds were collected by the Super Swampers over the past several years from Buhr Park. Our stock of seed is now large enough that we can share. County Parks was interested, so we agreed on a place in County Farm Park called Fox Hollow.

We decided to go with a low tech approach for this project. Previously we would do extensive planning. This time we're experimenting. What if we sow seeds on the ground with minimal preparation? The idea is based in part on a conversation with Greg Vaclavek at the Native Plant Nursery a few years ago as he showed off a section of land that they stopped mowing, burned and did minimal seeding. It might be a longer process, but we've got time.

Soil preparation was simple: raking the ground and pulling loose materials off. Then seeds were sowed by the kids.

Complete List of Seeds
  • Yellow Coneflower
  • Iron Weed
  • Prairie Dock
  • Indian Grass
  • Blue Stem Goldenrod
  • Sneezeweed
  • Switch Grass
  • Fox Glove Beard Tongue
  • Hairy Beard Tongue
  • Bottle Brush Grass
  • Split Leaf Black Eyed Susan
  • Black Eyed Susan
  • Bee Balm
  • Penstemon
  • Evening Primrose
  • Stiff Goldenrod
  • Cow Parsnip
  • Thimbleweed
  • Butterfly Milkweed
  • Common Milkweed
All seeds were collected from the Buhr Park "wet meadows" but our wet meadows have turned more to prairie over time. But we have no plans to change our name.
We have an idea that this small prairie will grow over the years and spread south and west as our little plot develops a good seed bank and nature takes its course.

Special thanks to Shawn Severance of the parks department who came and helped out.

Larger Images:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

2009 prescribed burn - a big hit with kids

The prescribed ecological burn on April 2, 2009 was a great success! Lots of kids and parents had fun and leaned about fire, plants and wildlife.

This year we focused on the three basins in the souty west corner of the park (sometimes called Wet Meadow 2) that we planted in 2004.

More details soon.

P.s., if you took photos, please get in touch.

Like Monica the Garden Faerie who posted photos to her blog.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2009 burn scheduled for April 2

“Wet Meadow Burn”: Buhr Park Children’s Wet Meadow. City natural area program staff conduct the annual prescribed burn of the wet meadow, and participants then scatter native plant seeds on the meadow. “It’s quite a sight--my daughter has gone to prescribed burns since age 2 and loves them,” says one parent. “I think it’s quite safe for kids of any age if they’re with a parent.” If you’d like to help prepare for the burn, show up at 4 p.m. with a garden rake (for leaf spreading) and a paper shopping bag (for seed collecting). 5 p.m., Buhr Park, 2751 Packard 48104. Free. 971-5870

(These photos are from March 2005.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Wet Meadow captures Big Thaw

With the big thaw that started on Saturday, February 7, Wet Meadow I is capturing a lot of water from melting snow. By Sunday afternoon, only about 2" on the seat rock was above water.

Even on Saturday, Wet Meadow I was capturing a lot of water from melting snow.

Since the ground is frozen, water will not soak in very quickly.

If the weather stays warm, more water will collect on the Wet Meadow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Super Swampers in the Snow

The Super Swampers gathered on a sunny day. We collected stems and seedheads of native wildflowers.

While it was chilly, it was fun to flounder in the deep snow.

Later we went inside and made plant identification guides to post in the kiosk.