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Herbaceous Plants

We have had queries as to why the drinking fountains are not turned on yet. Maintenance staff is watching the weather closely and will plan to turn on the drinking fountains and the water feature when all threat of freezing is past. It would not be good to have any of our pipes freeze and have to shut things down for repairs. Please be patient, as the water feature, especially, requires a few hours of work to open up for the season.

Remember that maintenance vehicles of the county, the power company, and some private contractors have access to the Greenway trails to complete various tasks. Be cautious and aware that maintenance trucks, cars and the Greenway Polaris might be driving on the trails for works that need to be performed. Personal cars and trucks without permission should not be driving on the Greenway. At present we have a few places where cars can get onto the trails, but some sections must be left open for various reasons. Unfortunately, these access points allow vandals to reach some of the trail and remove trees and destroy our signs. Please report vandalism through 911 when you see it, as it takes funds from improvements to repair and replace broken and stolen signs, benches and fencing.

Another caution for folks who run or walk with media players obstructing their hearing. This is a thoughtless practice as they cannot hear bikes, trucks or even walkers trying to pass them, and it puts both parties in danger.

Bicyclists should have a bell to warn walkers before passing. As the trails get more crowded it is only common courtesy to alert others as you plan to pass walkers or other cyclists. Keep in mind that children walking or riding their small cycles or scooters may veer suddenly as they do not think of someone who might be approaching from the rear. We're glad to see the policy of “keep to the right, except to pass” is working.

Enjoy the park and trails but keep these few points in mind to keep things as safe as possible for all Greenway users.

October 9, 2007

Ever wonder where all the plants come from along the Greenway?

With so many plants crowded into a square foot, we marvel that each plant gets its nourishment and water requirements from the little space it seems to occupy.

Perhaps it's because Mother Nature seems to organize the growth rate, height, and horizontal space needed as well as the blooming times, with its special needs, for each plant in its own environment.

From early spring through fall, different genera of plants, and different species of them, come along at their appropriate time, flower and go to seed. Meanwhile, other plants are going through the same cycle at different speeds, thereby layering the requirements of all. Obviously when nourishments or water needs are not met the most tender or weakest plants will either be stunted or succumb completely.

Developing seeds require a lot of the plant's energy and an individual plant may sacrifice its height in order to bring the fruit to maturity.

Many factors help in the dispersal of seeds. The obvious ones are wind and animals. Many seeds, like dandelion and the wild asters are equipped with fluffy seed attachments that aid in wind dispersal. Some are so tiny that they may be carried just by the wind currents. Moving water can move seeds along for a few feet, or if washed into a creek or stream, we can find new plants appearing miles downstream. This occurred on the Greenway banks in the year after the two large storms in 2004.

Birds, of course, are responsible for replanting poison ivy, blackberry, grape, elderberry and cherry, for after eating the soft fruit covering the harder seed can be deposited later on in the droppings. Even softer seeds may escape the digestion process and be passed along with its tiny spot of fertilizer!

Small animals like chipmunks, squirrels, mice and voles carry seeds around, storing them or just burying them, where, if conditions are right they may germinate.

Furry creatures inadvertently spread those seeds that come with hooks, barbs, or sticky coverings.

Deer, bear and wild turkey feed on many common plants in the fall and winter.

“A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits” by Martin, Zim and Nelson list the following plants often eaten by these larger creatures. Deer: maple, blackberry,dogwood, willow, hop-hornbeam and blueberry. Black bear: apple, cherry, grape, greenbrier, and chokeberry.

Wild turkey: acorns, beechnuts, blueberry, sassafras, blackgum, partridgeberry, holly, crab grass and poison ivy.

Human activities like grass cutting, can be responsible for the spreading of thousands of weed seeds, and many a hunter has returned with hundreds of stick-tights caught on his pants.

Then there are the unusual plants that forcefully eject its seeds to give them a greater chance of finding a site unoccupied by one of its own kind. The violet, witch hazel, touch-me-not and the wild geranium are a few that do this.

Join us on Friday, October 12 th at Tassee shelter at 9:30 am for our Seed Disposal Discovery Walk and learn more about this facinating subject.

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