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Reedy Creek and a small tributary, Crooked Branch, flow through Crooked Branch Ravine Park.  This small, passive park is home to many native trees, shrubs, and perennials that could be lost to advancing invasive plant species, particularly English ivy and privet.  Reedy Creek Coalition members are planning to have a workday once each month to remove invasive species.  Our efforts will focus on 1) removing ivy from trees and other plants that are significant sources of seed and 2) monitoring and removing small patches of non-native plants and seedlings from an area that is not yet severely impacted.

  • Please consider joining us on Sunday, May 14 from 1-3 p.m.
  • We will meet at the end of Northrop Street where there is a path into the park.
  • Bring gloves, pruners, and, if you have one, a small saw for cutting large ivy vines.

pawpaw canopyCome work with us under the beautiful oak, hickory, maple, sassafras, holly, beech, black gum, sweet gum canopy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The April Reedy Creek Coalition meeting will be on Wednesday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Westover Hills Public Library and should be very interesting…
Four seniors from the University of Richmond will present their case study concerning the recent Reedy Creek stream restoration project which focused on how the city of Richmond manages environmental issues. The study has three main components:
  • The policy section is an overview of the project’s main stakeholders and each stakeholder’s role/influence on the outcome(s) of the project.
  • The GIS section is a technical analysis of the land cover and erosion potential in the Reedy Creek basin.
  • The ethics section contains a summary of how other cities incorporate ethics and values into their environmental management procedures, especially with regards to climate change and concludes with the student’s recommendations as to how the city of Richmond could better incorporate residents’ thoughts and values in its decision-making from this point forward.
Though this concerns one proposed project in the Reedy Creek watershed, their analysis and ideas will likely be applicable to other situations that will impact our environment.

You are welcome to attend.

Reedy Creek and a small tributary, Crooked Branch, flow through Crooked Branch Ravine Park.  This small, passive park is home to many native trees, shrubs, and perennials that could be lost to advancing invasive plant species, particularly English ivy and privet.  Reedy Creek Coalition members are planning to have a workday once each month to remove invasive species.  Our efforts will focus on 1) removing ivy from trees and other plants that are significant sources of seed and 2) monitoring and removing small patches of non-native plants and seedlings from an area that is not yet severely impacted.

  • Please consider joining us on Sunday, April 2 from 1-3 p.m.
  • We will meet at the end of Northrop Street where there is a path into the park.
  • Bring gloves, pruners, and, if you have one, a small saw for cutting large ivy vines.

 

Blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) is leafing out and just starting to set some buds.  This plant is fairly common in this little patch of woods.

 

 

 

Reedy Creek and a small tributary, Crooked Branch, flow through Crooked Branch Ravine Park.  This small, passive park is home to many native trees, shrubs, and perennials that could be lost to advancing invasive plant species, particularly English ivy and privet.  Reedy Creek Coalition members are planning to have a workday once each month to remove invasive species.  Our efforts will focus on 1) removing ivy from trees and other plants that are significant sources of seed and 2) monitoring and removing small patches of non-native plants and seedlings from an area that is not yet severely impacted.

  • Please consider joining us on Sunday, March 5 from 1-3 p.m.
  • We will meet at the end of Northrop Street where there is a path into the park.
  • Bring gloves, pruners, and, if you have one, a small saw for cutting large ivy vines.

We intend to continue these efforts on a monthly basis and and hope that you will join us.

This lovely little evergreen is easily found in the park, but will not survive as English ivy spreads.  The plant blooms in late spring.  Please help save the native plants of Crooked Branch Ravine.

chimaphila-maculata-spotted-wintergreen-flower-with-ivy

Wintergreen, Chimaphila species

 

 

Join Friends of Forest Hill Park this coming Saturday….

fhp-ivy-removal

As you probably know, we Reedy Creekers take our native plants seriously.  Bill Shanabruch – watershed resident, RCC member, and native plant enthusiast – shares his thoughts on the American hazelnut.   

Corylus Americana (American hazelnut) has become one of my favorite plants over the last couple of years.  Perhaps it is because I see two of these remarkable shrubs/small trees every day when I look out our dining room window.  But I think it has more to do with the subtle and changing beauty of this plant as it goes through the seasons.  Recently, I was stunned at the remarkable change that occurred after one day of warm weather on February 7.  The male catkins which formed last September had suddenly doubled in length and started to turn from green to yellow.  This is a sure sign that the female flowers will open very soon.

February - Elongating male catkins

February – Elongating male catkins

Male catkins - close up

Male catkins – close up

What other native plant do you know that flowers in mid-February?  Ok – skunk cabbage for one; but there are not many.  It turns out that you almost need a magnifying glass to appreciate the little red female flowers produced by American hazelnut.  There is no big show of color because American hazelnut is not dependent on insects for pollination.  No need to attract bees or butterflies or beetles or hummingbirds.  American hazelnut uses the winter wind for pollination.  And that brings us back to those male catkins that are changing shape and color.  They are currently preparing to disperse pollen to the wind.  In another week or so, one will be able to gently tap a catkin and see a little puff of yellow pollen released.  That is the time to look closely for the tiny red flowers that will be open and waiting for the wind to perform its magic.

After another couple of weeks, the catkins will turn brown and eventually fall to the ground – mission accomplished.  Then it’s time for the leaves to appear.  The young leaves provide a welcome splash of red before they turn dark green.  In a mild winter, the ensuing spring may bring hordes of inch worms and other caterpillars that seem to love chomping hazelnut leaves.  In some springs, the hazelnuts become almost completely defoliated.  That’s good news to the birds that are feeding their nestlings with caterpillars.  And somehow, the hazelnuts just seem to shrug it off.  By early summer, they look as healthy as ever.  That’s one of the other reasons I love hazelnuts – they seem to be very forgiving and almost indestructible.  Sun, shade, drought, wet summer, clay soil, organic soil – nothing seems to matter very much.  The cockroach among Virginia’s native plants?

August - Developing hazelnuts

August – Developing hazelnuts

Developing hazelnuts - close up

Developing hazelnuts – close up

Nearly mature hazelnuts in early September.

Nearly mature hazelnuts in early September.

By midsummer, it becomes readily apparent that the February mission of the catkins and little red flowers was successful.  The first clusters of developing hazelnuts become apparent and the dog days of summer can be spent watching their progress.  By September, one can see a trace of the mature brown nut through the yellow cover encasing each hazelnut.  American hazelnuts are quite edible; but they are smaller than their European cousins that are grown commercially.  And good luck getting to them before the squirrels!!  By the middle of September, we see little piles of hazelnut shells all over their favorite perches in our backard – porch steps, bench, lawn chairs, anywhere off the ground with a better chance to see and avoid predators.

While one is watching the development of the hazelnuts, it is easy to miss the early formation of the male catkins hidden amidst the foliage.  By the time the hazelnuts are mature, the next generation of male catkins are already about one-inch long.  But they will remain hidden for another two months or so while the leaves turn color and become the focal point.  Eventually the leaves fall, and at last, the catkins are the star of the hazelnut show throughout the winter.

Fall color

Hazelnuts in early November. There are two plants showing a little genetic variation. The plant on the right always changes color about two weeks before the plant on the left.

 

 

Reedy Creek Coalition will be participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, a project of Cornell Lab or Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.  This project began in 1998 and was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

  • We will begin the count on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8:30 a.m. at the end of Northrop Street where the path leads into Crooked Branch Ravine Park.
  • You are welcome to join us.  Binoculars are needed, but expertise is not!  We welcome anyone with an interest in the outdoors.
  • Dress for walking in the woods.  We will probably venture off the path.
  • It is difficult to predict how long we will count, but you may leave at anytime.  No need to stay until we are done.