Now that the water shortage has abated somewhat, we will begin running the Water Feature at Big Bear Park longer hours: from 10 am to 7 pm each day. There is a timeout and the sprays will stop if no one is on the water court for a time. The sprays may be restarted by lightly pushing the button on top of the yellow post. Please give the machinery one minute to begin the sprays. Last year impatient children (and adults) caused a failure to the restarting mechanism. The water feature was out of commission for 5 weeks. Be gentle.
New frog/toad t-shirts are in at Frog Quarters. Also some lovely nature cards for special days, with no printing; new small washable quilts for the pets of the family; pottery bowls and containers with lids; macrame owl necklaces and other interesting jewelry; handmade picture frames and aprons, sunlights and crocheted feathery boas, and, of course, our Fig, Raspberry, Orange and Ginger jam (FROG).
We would like to obtain two or three more donations toward Disc Golf baskets before we begin the actual building of our course near Southwestern Community College and the Library on Siler Road. If you are an individual or business that would like a basket signed with your name, contact the Frog Quarters and we'll get back to you. This promises to be a fun course with future tournaments as well as daily use by individuals, families and dedicated Disc Golf players. Instructional sessions will be held and Discs will be available at local merchants, tho' anyone can use a regular Frisbee. It provides an inexpensive sport for all.
Wednesday June 3 rd will be our next Discovery Walk with Brent Martin, local representative of the Wilderness Society. Maybe we'll find a bit of wilderness right here on the Greenway. Indoors if rain.
Meet at Frog Quarters at 9 am.
In just a short walk down the Old Airport Trail we see that white is the predominate color right now among the flowering plants.
The multiflora rose bush is displaying its many-flowered clusters at the tips of its branches. Usually bushy, it can climb up into trees and other shrubs with ease. This rose has three to seven toothed leaflets with hairy stipules at the leaf nodes. We have many other wild roses, and this is one good identifying characteristic to look for if one is trying to eliminate invasive plants.
On the river side of the trail you will see the eight foot tall Cow Parsnip (Heracleum maximum). It has a large flat-topped cluster of tiny flowers and the leaves are large and coarse and clasp the thick stem.
Blackberry and Black Raspberry brambles are common here, too. The Blackberry's three to five leaflets are toothed and arranged in a palmate fashion. The white flowers are single, though are numerous and each petal tapers toward its center. There are many species of blackberries but if the canes are reddish it is the Highbush Blackberry.
Also here is the Black Raspberry shrub, usually having only 3 toothed leaflets in the usual pinnate arrangement. Blackberry and raspberry shrubs are usually less leafy than roses.
Similar ground-trailing brambles belong to the dewberry species, having small white flowers, and are prickly all along the stems.
The recently planted Kousa Dogwood shrubs (Cornus kousa) are just preparing to open their large white “flowers”. As with the native dogwoods the bracts are predominate and the actual floralparts are in the center. The Flowering Dogwood produces a cluster of small red berries. The Silky Dogwood develops a cluster of blue-grey berries, while the kousa forms single red knobby fruits about the size of a dime. The kousa seems to have good resistance to the Dogwood anthracnose, that concerns local homeowners and foresters.
Another plant with white flowers is the Mock Orange (Philadelphus inordorus),a shrub near the butterfly garden. The large four petaled flowers are on the ends of the opposite branches and the leaf is slightly toothed only near the tip of the leaf.
In the butterfly garden, you will note the tall Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis) with geranium-like whorled leaves.
In a nice contrast the Blue Flag iris, the Coral Bells and the delicate Miami Mist (Phacelia purshii).
Go exploring on the Greenway at your next opportunity.
Friends Picnic May 23
Tassee shelter will be the site of the Friends of the Greenway's membership picnic on Saturday, May 23 rd . Festivities begin at 5 PM. We invite all members and their families to join us on this annual recognition of our volunteers, members and board. We'll enjoy some good beans and “dogs” and good comraderie. Might want to bring a folding chair to help with seating.
Some vandalism has occurred again at Nonah Bridge area, repeating some of the antics from last fall. The sheriff's office is on it. We appreciate the folks who notified them over the weekend.
For those of you interested in exotic/invasive plants you may wish to attend a workshop on June 6th given by the Nantahala Hiking Club at their meeting place on Carl Slagle Road off 64 west. It will be held beginning at 9 am followed by a hike in the Standing Indian Area to see some of the plants first hand. Hike is optional. Call NHC President, Bill Van Horn at 369-1983 if you will be attending either the workshop &/or the hike.
The NHC maintains a short section of the Greenway as well as almost 60 miles of the Appalachian Trail in our area.
For Earth Day Frogs provided a Water Testing Kit to an Environmental Biology class at Southwestern Community College. The students had a fun/informative time collecting water samples and testing for eight parameters: pH, turbidity, biochemical oxygen demand, coliform bacteria, nitrate, phosphate and temperature. Writing a report on the test was part of their class work. Biology instructor Noa Sparks plans to use the kit with further classes. Information on these kits and other teacher activities on a variety of environmental subjects can be found on the web site of the National Environmental Education Foundation. Frogs was happy to offer this learning situation using Greenway resources.
Next week we'll pick up on what's bloomin' on the Greenway. This rain and sun combined will bring out the spring flowers and the tree and shrubs' leaves like nothing else. If only we could slow the grass growth!
What's going in that big square hole at Big Bear? A 3 ½ ton rock.
When the DOT worked on the reconstruction of the Main Street roadway in front of McDonalds they had to move the large monument rock that commemorates Hernando DeSoto's travels through the area in the 16 th century. The memorial was commissioned by the North Carolina branch of the Colonial Dames, a historical group. It has sat at the DOT maintenance yard all this time, and we were asked if we could find room for it on the Greenway.
It has taken some effort to get a flatbed big enough to hold it and someone to unload it, but it probably will be in place by the end of next week.
Our community has quite a few historical events in our background and a park is a good place to see reminders of our heritage.
Also at Big Bear, we are aiming to open the Water Feature around the middle of April, weather permitting. The hours will be similar to last year because we are still in a drought and we need to conserve. Maintenance men will be removing the winter covers and installing the new switch that will allow easier restarting of the sprays while children are at the feature. New signage will tell how to operate the restart function.
Reminder to all persons who wish to reserve space for family or group use of the picnic shelters. Please stop in at Frog Quarters, fill out a form and leave a $20 refundable deposit for your preferred date. In all fairness we cannot hold a date/ site without the deposit. If the site is left clean, your deposit is returned the day after the event. Reservations are posted on the bulletin boards at Big Bear or Tassee a few days before your event.
Something else is new. Installation of a large new waste box is in the works. It will hold 4 cans for various recyclable items and garbage.
We hope this will make it easier for you to sort your waste and easier for us to dispose of it. Saving space in the landfill will save all of us money.
Once again we remind users to report any vandalism or inappropriate use of the facilities or play equipment. The Town police and the County Sheriff's dept. are good responders, and a call to 911 will be routed to the available unit by the dispatcher.
Let's have a fun, happy and safe time for all along the Greenway.
Beginning April first the Frog Quarters will be open 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 Saturday and closed Sundays. We do have soda, bottled water and juice, trail bars, brownies, bagels and muffins if you need a pick-me-up, and of course tea and coffee.
The Discovery bird Walk went well last Wednesday. The day was perfect for being out on the trail. Almost 20 birds were sighted, including a Kingfisher, Golden Crowned Kinglet and Cedar Waxwing. Among the sparrows we saw the Song, White Throat, Field and Swamp sparrows.
Four Turkey Vultures were sunning themselves on a large tree, with their wings open to absorb some warmth from the sun.
John Sill's super telescope brought their images into fine focus for all of us to see. The Turkey Vulture is not the most beautiful of birds, but one cannot deny their grace in flight. They of course, serve us well by cleaning up carrion they find on roadsides and fields. John said these large birds do not make a traditional
We saw a Downy Woodpecker, Flicker and a Pileated Woodpecker. The Pileated supplied some distinctive pecking on a dead treetop. This rhythm and speed is part of the mating antics of the woodpeckers.
This was a great time to observe birds as the leaves are not out yet to hid them as in later spring. Some of the Red Maple trees along the river were showing their light red flowers. The seed of the Red Maple forms early from the flower and gives the tree a bright red appearance a couple of weeks after flowering.
On Wednesday, April 11 th we will highlight wildflowers and their association with insects and birds. Duke Rankin from the Nantahala District of the USFS will lead the walk. Remember that we will hold all Discovery Walks rain or shine, as we have room for an shortened indoor program if mother nature turns on the water tap.
You can find information on upcoming Greenway events on our website at LittleTennessee.org .The site has some of our previous columns for you to reread, a map of the Greenway, photos of neat things, and links to other natural resources like the Monarch Watch organization and how to set up your own butterfly garden.
And if you spot an unknown wildflower or shrub while walking the Greenway, stop in at Frog Quarters and browse the reference books there, a courtesy of the Macon County Library. Our own lovely publication Wildflowers of the Little Tennessee River Greenway is available for sale.
School and Scout groups may request free copies which were printed with County Education Funds. All to better enjoy the Greenway.