WillowRidge Community Greenbelt Restoration's Journal

April 08, 2021

Spring budget increase!

April 7, 2021. Fabulous developments from today's monthly Willowridge Community HOA meeting - the Board has agreed to support a $2000 operating budget for the project this year. This allocation will cover costs of perennial plants and miscellaneous expenses - such as the recently installed garden fencing and soil applications of MycoBloom - a mixture of endomycorrhizal soil symbionts called arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. These fungi support root development and enhance the establishment of natives and may reduce non-native invasion.

I wasted no time in submitting mass orders of plantings targeting the shady eastern section including packera, virginia waterleaf, sweet william and wild strawberry. I also scored some celandine poppy, virginia bluebells, blue flag iris and dwarf crested iris. The first order will be picked up April 17th at the Anti B Gorman facility at the first native plant sale of the season. The second order from Prairie Nursery will be delayed until the end of May. How will I wait??? So exciting!

The goal is immediate impact and I aim to deliver!

Posted on April 08, 2021 04:37 by ann223 ann223 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 05, 2021

Gorgeous Easter weekend

April 5, 2021. We had a lovely, unseasonably warm Easter weekend in the Greenbelt and fresh new growth was bursting out - both desirable and undesirable. I spent much of the weekend working to pull up or cut down emerging invasive species of honeysuckle and some stray periwinkle. I just shook my head at the garlic mustard which was extensive. I also watered the seedlings planted last week since it has been so warm and dry. I received one last shipment from the Missouri Department of Conservation, 10 Black cherry (Prunus serotina) which I planted Friday afternoon (4/2/2021) in the open central location of the property, expanding the existing cherry tree line west. I want to see if anything will grow in that space since there is a large utility manhole cover (?) of some sort that may be a marker of underground materials that would inhibit root formation. If it's possible for anything to grow there - the cherry will grow. For the record, I communicated with city officials involved in permitting and code enforcement for this property prior to initiating the project in late 2018 and they gave the ok to carry on planting with no restrictions. Hopefully the problems are just the critters. We shall see!

This week I will be presenting a proposal to the Willowridge HOA to support mass planting of perennials for the season. I hope to obtain an array of shady perennials including spring ephemerals and ground covers to fill the freshly cleared east end of the property. Hopefully the board agrees.

More to follow!!

Missouri Department of Conservation
10 Black cherry seedlings (Prunus serotina)

Posted on April 05, 2021 13:54 by ann223 ann223 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 29, 2021

Another busy weekend

March 29, 2021. Spring is hitting its stride in eastern Kansas. Saturday was gloomy and cool but Sunday was gorgeous! All of the seedlings are well-watered after a week of beneficial rain. I spent the weekend in the Greenbelt installing some garden fencing and planting the third round of seedlings from the Missouri Department of Conservation. This batch included 10 more Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra), 10 Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) seedlings and 10 cottonwood cuttings. These were mainly planted along the central walking path behind the thicket of plums. The buckeye were planted inside the wooded area along the creek - far enough away from the path to provide shade, water access and keep errant seed off the public thoroughfare. The redbud were planted closer to the path with a few extra planted on the west end. The last round of cottonwood seemed to be shaded out in the creek so I planted these on the north side near a little clearing hoping the light will save them. I think this will be my last go with cottonwood since this habitat just isn't right for them.

It is exciting to see the landscape come to life again but the bright green patches of honeysuckle within mock me from their roost. Just wait until fall! Grrr. Some young errant shrubs pulled up easily in the soft ground, but planting was the goal at this point in the season. I did some clearing and shaping of the public areas for esthetics. Fencing was placed as a cue to the landscaping company to protect emerging seedlings from over-zealous mowers. And emerging they are! The wild plum has done fabulously with most of the 25 planted seedlings leafing out - even those subject to grazing. The Prunus species all did well - all five of the planted Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) are leafing out and it appears that as many as eight of the ten Black cherry (Prunus serotina) trees are leafing out! In light of this success, I have ordered 10 more Black cherry seedlings set to arrive this week. These will be planted in the same central area to the west of the first batch.

I was also delighted to find one of my early plantings of elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) from 2 years ago thriving. It was planted on the east end of the central zone and will add stunning color to the early summer display in that area. I added some cuttings from a broken branch of another elderberry plant that I came across as I was checking the central area. Elderberry is another species that is thriving in this planting. I am working to track down the Roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii) that exists naturally in the zone so that I can protect and nurture new growth and hopefully provide nutritious berries for migrating birds.

I will enjoy documenting my progress on this platform. Cheers!

10 Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
10 Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)
10 Cottonwood cuttings (Populus sect. aigeiros)
Source: Missouri Department of Conservation

Posted on March 29, 2021 13:25 by ann223 ann223 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 20, 2021

Second shipment planted!

March 19th, 2021. It was another lovely Kansas day - the last day of a very long COVID winter. I took the afternoon off to plant the latest shipment of seedlings from Missouri Department of Conservation [10 Northern Red Oak, 10 Chinkapin oak and 10 Ninebark shrubs (Physocarpus opulifolius)]. Since I purchased the shipment out of my own pocket, I planted the first red oak seedling in my own yard to replace the Bradford pear that I removed last fall. The rest replenished the 2020 plantings foraged by deer in the center of the path near the American plum thicket (Prunus Americana). Eight of the Chinkapin oak were planted along the path just east of that and two were given to Pam Barry for her back yard on the north side of the greenbelt. Five of the ninebark were planted on the east end of the Greenbelt flanking the stream on both sides of the path. I was forced to wrangle some residual honeysuckle I missed last fall to clear the area. Three were planted on the west end - one in my yard. I offered another to neighbor, Mike Irwin (former HOA President), who provided some plastic guards to secure the new seedlings from additional foraging. The last went to Pam's yard to help enhance the north side of the natural area. A quick inventory revealed budding Chokecherry, elderberry and wild currant. The black cherry planted in the center of the greenbelt survived in spite of foraging and shows great promise for the spring growth.

I'm looking forward to beginning my inventory of progress in the coming season!

Posted on March 20, 2021 00:24 by ann223 ann223 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 12, 2021

2021 Spring planting begins!

March 11, 2021. The first shipment of seedlings for the 2021 season arrived yesterday from the Missouri Department of Conservation. We had a good shower last night after several dry weeks. More rain is projected for the coming days so I took advantage of the gorgeous afternoon to plant with neighbor and COVID walking buddy Pam Barry. The shipment included 10 Bur oak, 10 White oak and 10 Ohio buckeye. The oaks were planted in the center of the Greenbelt -an open and wet area that I have tried without success to establish a tree stand. Last years stock of white, swamp white and texana oaks planted in the same area were ravaged by deer over the winter. The black cherry faired better but still took substantial casualties. I'm giving these oaks more protection for one last effort before giving up. I was happy to see the elderberry and false indigo planted last year leafing out - good to see that something will grow there. Seven of the buckeye were placed at the east end along the walking path and three at the west. All of the plantings were flagged - Burr with yellow, white with orange, and buckeye with orange. Some of the oaks were caged in hobby wire. I will work to wrap the others over the coming days. Hopefully this will give them a fighting chance!

I was thrilled to find the golden currant planted last spring leafing out! Very exciting since I was sure they were dead. Life finds a way!

Update: After reading more about the Ohio buckeye, I went back the next evening to replant the seedlings on the interior of the greenbelt along the stream where they would have more shade and water. That location also reduced my anxiety about elderly neighbors twisting their ankles or dogs choking on poison nuts!

Posted on March 12, 2021 00:19 by ann223 ann223 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 26, 2021

COVID Spring

The second season for the greenspace renovation project was marked by the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic and related economic shutdown. The project provided a nice excuse to get outside to exercise and socially distance with neighbors. Seedlings had been preordered in the fall to come in weekly batches of about 50 plants throughout the month of March. March proved to be an excellent month for planting - offering cool temperatures and high moisture for seedling establishment prior to the dry summer months. The selection of seedlings were intended to mimic riparian oak/hickory forests of north eastern Kansas/north western Missouri blended with some shade tolerant prairie plants. A good number of seeds were also distributed to be described at a later date.

Spring 2020 seedling plantings

Batch 1
Prunus Americana (American Wild Plum) seedling (25), 3/13/2020, Mo Dept of Conservation
Black Cherry (10), 3/13/2020, Mo Dept of Conservation
Cottonwood cuttings (10), 3/13/2020, Mo Dept of Conservation
Batch 2
Chokecherry seedling (5), 3/18/2020, KS Forestry Service
American Elderberry seedling (5), 3/18/2020, KS Forestry Service
Redbud tree seedling (4), 3/18/2020, KS Forestry Service
Golden Current seedling (5), 3/18/2020, KS Forestry Service
American Wild Plum seedlings (4), 3/18/2020, KS Forestry Service
Flase Indigo seedlings (2), 3/18/2020, S Forestry Service
Button Bush seedlings (3), 3/18/2020, KS Forestry Service
Batch 3
Black gum seedlings (25), 3/19/2020, Mo Dept of Conservation
White oak seedlings (10), 3/19/2020, Mo Dept of Conservation
Bald cypress seedlings (10), 3/19/2020, Mo Dept of Conservation
Red oak (Texana) seedlings (10), 3/19/2020, Mo Dept of Conservation
Batch 4
Northern red oak seedlings (25), 3/26/2020, Mo Dept of Conservation
Redbud tree seedlings (24), 3/26/2020, Mo Dept of Conservation

These seedlings were grouped together in areas with appropriate sun exposure and soil moisture content for the species. The central area of the greenspace -towards the west end is particularly wet during the spring months with a fair amount of sun exposure, impacting selection of plants. This area was intensively planted with black gum, bald cypress, texana red oak, swamp white oak and black cherry. The northern red oak, redbud and american plum were planted in the perimeter along the walking path where the conditions are dry with more sun exposure. The chokecherry and elderberry were planted on the west end in the stream. The cottowood cuttings were also placed in the stream in a more central location near an established cottonwood tree.

The majority of seedlings responded well surviving the initial planting and summer with the exception of the black gum. None of the black gum survived the initial planting, and at long last, I concluded that the conditions of the area do not support them. The bald cypress did extremely well in the climate but were rapidly decimated by grazing deer. I decided that future seedling tree plantings will focus on Kansas natives such as Burr, White and Red oaks, and prunus species. It also became clear that oak species need protections to survive winter grazing. The shrub and small tree species on the other hand were not extensively grazed.

The fall of 2020 included a serious honeysuckle eradication effort which had a major impact on the space and opened up light to much of the area. This should provide more suitable climate for the next round of plantings set to begin March 8.

The spring of 2021 will begin with an inventory of the surviving plants and an assessment of the impact of grazing on the surviving oaks. Are they dead or not? We shall see!

Posted on February 26, 2021 20:22 by ann223 ann223 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 25, 2021

How it began

The WillowRidge community was established in the early 2000's with approximately 3.5 acres designated as natural space for runoff and flood control with a small canal running through it. The space consisted mostly of native hackberry, Osage orange and honey locust with the usual native fauna and flora expected for the region. Over time and left to its own devices, the area was overtaken by bush honeysuckle and the tree line appeared to fall into decline. Neighbors became concerned about overhanging trees and shrubbery encroaching on the sidewalk so the HOA cleared the perimeter and chemically treated to kill the native grasses. Turf grass was planted with partial success leaving shady areas muddy and bare.

I moved into a townhouse property adjacent and overlooking the natural space in the spring of 2004 and enjoyed the natural area without much understanding of the ecology for many years. Over time, I became concerned by the loss of tree line and natural fauna and disappointed by the lack of flowers and color. In the summer of 2018, I went to a seminar highlighting the importance of native plants to our ecosystem, the harm associated with the loss of native land and the negative impact of this loss on our pollinators. It occurred to me that this unused and neglected land could provide an important reservoir for native species to support our pollinators and reduce global warming. I approached the HOA with a plan and they were extremely receptive to the idea. They granted their permission to remediate and manage the space with some financial support for the project. Their support was conditioned on the incorporation of some larger, more impactful plantings for immediate benefit to the community. This was accomplished by planting 3 black gum (Wildfire) and 4 serviceberry (Autumn Brilliance) at a central location along the walking path in the spring of 2019. Unfortunately, one of the three black gum was killed by a rutting deer in the summer of 2020.

My focused remediation efforts began with the major items listed below including the plant count, dates planted, and sources of each planting:

Black Walnut (10) tree seedlings 3/16/2019 Mo Dept of Conservation
Nutall Oak (10) tree seedling 3/16/2019 Mo Dept of Conservation
Spicebush (10) seedling 3/16/2019 Mo Dept of Conservation
Black Gum tree (10) seedling 4/19/2019 Mo Dept of Conservation
Redbud tree (25) seedling 4/21/2019 Mo Dept of Conservation
Ninebark bush (10) seedling 4/21/2019 Mo Dept of Conservation
Button bush (10) seedling 4/21/2019 Mo Dept of Conservation
Black Chokeberry (1) plant 4/21/2019 Missouri Wildflower Nursery
Mixed Hickory (10) seedling 4/26/2019 Mo Dept of Conservation
Chinkapin Oak (10) seedling 4/26/2019 Mo Dept of Conservation
Bald Cypress (2) seedling 4/26/2019 KS Forestry Service
Paw Paw (4) seedling 4/26/2019 KS Forestry Service
White Oak (3) seedling 4/26/2019 KS Forestry Service
Shumard Oak (3) seedling 4/26/2019 KS Forestry Service
Elderberry (2) seedling 4/26/2019 KS Forestry Service

The Monarch Butterfly & Honey Bee Seed Mix from Buffalo Brand Sharp Brothers Seed Company was also cast into an open area along the walking path on 3/16/2019.

This initial effort was not very successful. Most of the seedlings did take root but they were heavily grazed by deer - especially the bald cypress. The planting strategy was also flawed with too many isolated seedlings planted in the tree line and shaded out by honeysuckle. The fall of 2019 was the first mitigation effort to clear honeysuckle from the west end of the area which was followed by a more extensive effort in the fall of 2020. The planting strategy was changed to better target the growing conditions, planting like plants together in well-marked clusters for monitoring and in the hopes that similar root systems will support each other. That effort proved to be more successful.

Posted on February 25, 2021 14:54 by ann223 ann223 | 0 comments | Leave a comment