It was a cool, cloudy, windy morning but 37 faithful Arbor Day volunteers turned out to plant native trees and shrubs, remove invasive plants, care for past plantings and maintain nest boxes. We gathered at 9am, warming up with hot coffee and delicious pastries, bagels and fruit lined up by Mike Brezin and Suzanne Chopin. We were happy to have more children participating this year and we hope they will come back in years to come to see how much “their” trees have grown.

New Plantings

Our major project this year was to plant native trees and shrubs to continue the urban forest along the boundary of the park. There are some large trees there but very little shrub and small tree cover. This planting will be beneficial to wildlife, will be appreciated by visitors to the park who enjoy a more natural environment and will provide privacy for the adjoining neighborhood. Parks and Recreation, under the leadership of Brenda Pratt is providing water to this planting. We planted 21 Ocala anise that will eventually form a green backdrop along with the following species to increase diversity of the understory – Ashe magnolia, red cedar, agarista, rusty blackhaw, hophornbeam, needle palm, Southern magnolia.

Woodland Restoration Project

We continued work on our woodland restoration project by attacking the non-native invasive coral ardisia and privet. There was something for every ability. Some clipped the red berries off coral ardisia plants; these have to be bagged and disposed in the garbage, never in the compost. Others pulled small ardisias that pull up easily. Others used shovels and picks to dig out the larger ardisias and privets. We planted an arrowwood viburnum and a blue beech on the west side of this woodland in the area where we planted several native trees last year.

Without our efforts at removing the invasive non-native plants, the woodland would become a solid mass of invasive species which have little to no value for native wildlife. They crowd out and shade our native species which have unique ecological relationships with wildlife. Next time you are in the park, look for our Woodland Restoration sign. We plan to remove all non-native plants from this woodland over time. We will continue to plant native plants in the woodland as it is freed of invasives.

Thanks to Everyone!

Tom Schulte and his daughter Layne led a small group of children on a mission to clean out the 4 bluebird houses and the wood duck box in preparation for this year’s nesting season. The children were excited to find 4 old eggs that had not hatched in the wood duck nest box.

We planted a Myer lemon tree in honor of Sue Hansen near the community garden. Sue was instrumental in starting this garden, but has since moved from the neighborhood. Our association also had a beautiful stained glass stepping stone made for the center of the garden to honor Sue. When the lemon tree produces, its fruit may be shared by all.

Thanks to the City of Tallahassee for donating 25 bales of pine straw for the mulching of past and new plantings. Thanks to Barb Shiplock for putting up the Arbor Day signs, to Tom Vickers for posting the e-mail announcements, Melissa Jacoby for posting on Facebook and Casey McLaughlin for web site updates.

Alas! No box turtles were found this year, but we did unearth a small earth snake to the delight of the children. We placed him carefully back in the soil after everyone got a good look at him.

One final note: Jesse and Hope Suber could not be with us on Saturday, but they launched their canoe on McCord Pond on Sunday and filled several large bags of litter. They do this every year. Most common litter - Styrofoam cups that float in from upstream. Wish our country could ban Styrofoam containers for fast food.

Thank you to the following for volunteering:

I apologize for misspellings. I hope I didn't leave anyone off the list. Thank you, thank you - it was lots of fun, volunteering and visiting with each other as we worked on a common goal. It is amazing how much we did in 2 hours!