Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Demo rain/native plant gardens right here

Here at the wastewater treatment plant there are 6 small native plant/rain gardens on site.  Most were planted back in 2004.  The species diversity has changed a bit over the years but the gardens have been good at taking in water and being a great place for native insects.  What is nice about native gardens is there are different flowers blooming throughout the season.  The cup plants are starting to flower now.  The plant stands about 4-5 feet tall and the leaves grow around the stem and hold water, like a cup.  The yellow petals are aglow above the gardens.  It's great to see the mix of plants in the relatively small areas - ferns are in one of the gardens and a few shrubs.  I'll admit I don't know every plant but I'm learning. 
A task over the last couple weeks has been to take out some plants that have expanded a bit too much within the gardens and some that made it to the gardens on their own, like tansy.  As I remove some plants I see some plants hiding within.  Gardens are wonderful places and there is so much to learn about native plants.  Paul Hlina, with Leaning Pine Native Plants, is a great resource for native plants.  He is knowledgeable and also grows native plants.  He knows which species grow in wetter conditions. 

Here are a couple other plant resources.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service plants.usda.gov

The North Woods Native Plant Society has field trips throughout the summer in Northern WI and Upper Michigan. northwoodsnativeplantsociety.org

I noticed the Wisconsin Wetlands Association out of Madison came up to the shore of Lake Superior for a field trip in June to explore a state natural area.  Wisconsin has 655 natural areas (SNA) through the WI DNR and 19 are in Douglas County.   The city owns Dwight's Point and Pokegma Wetlands.
http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/naturalareas/documents/bookmaps/dwights_point.pdf  Nearby Superior is Pokegama Carnegie Wetlands.  http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/naturalareas/index.asp?SNA=516

Every day I go out to work in the gardens.  We'll be planting some new plants later in August and could use a hand.  Contact us if you are interested in helping.  Every day when I'm out by the gardens I inevitably see a ground squirrel zip along in the area.  Native plant areas - whether created by humans - or those left natural are havens for wildlife.  Wetlands are key breeding areas for amphibians and other life.  I know the rain gardens and native plants in a yard are good for slowing down runoff after a storm but I especially treasure the bringing back a bit of food resources and habitat for our wild neighbors.

Posted by Wendy

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