King Conservation District

Potting-up 400! native plants at KCD's wetland plant nursery.

Wow, four-hundred might be a new Stewardship Squad record for the number of bare root plants potted up. We enjoyed very warm sun and a nice crowd at the King Conservation District's wetland plant nursery for planting red osier dogwood and salmonberry into pots for future-use in restoration projects. The kids checked the flooded beds for signs of their beloved tadpoles, but will have to come back in the spring for much activity.  They worked so swiftly that they also had plenty of time for the usual tag, hide & seek and epic snacking- essential components of most activities.   We look forward to using these plants out in the field at future work parties.

More Wetland Planting on Longfellow Creek with KCD.

This time along the Longfellow Creek Trail (Brandon Street Natural Area), we planted wetland grasses in a low, soggy area- Carex obnupta / slough sedge.  A common task at King Conservation Disctrict's wetland plant nursery is to divide such fast-growing species as these, indeed some were so root-bound that stomping, punching and pulling failed to dislodge them from their pots and Adam had to slice the pot (and plant) through with his shovel.  Upon finally freeing them, it was a significant task to loosen up the vigorous root system before planting.

Other species planted under the frosty, sunny alder forest were Symphoricarpos albus / snowberry & Thuja plicata / western red cedar.

Field-Planting the Wetland Species We've Tended in the Nursery.

After working at King Conservation Disctrict's wetland plant nursery for three years, it was thoroughly satisfying to plant some of the species we've tended out in the field along the Longfellow Creek Trail in the Brandon Street Natural Area of West Seattle.  The weather has been amazing this fall, with many sunny days and warm temperatures.  After a bit of downpour, the urban woodland sparkled and the kids enjoyed all its features from climbing cedar and trails to boardwalk and tall saplings to plant.  They alders were much taller than the kids when we potted them up at KCD's nursery in the spring and after growing over the summer, they were larger still- requiring a team of three to get them in the ground.  It was tricky at times to dig holes underneath the roots of mature trees, but it was enjoyable to see the nitrogen-fixing bacteria nodules in the alder roots (photo below).

Alnus rubra  / red alder  roots showing the nodules of nitrogen-fixing bacteria that transform it from a gaseous state into a form usable to the tree, enabling incredibly fast growth and the ability to colonize disturbed areas as a pioneer species.

Alnus rubra / red alder roots showing the nodules of nitrogen-fixing bacteria that transform it from a gaseous state into a form usable to the tree, enabling incredibly fast growth and the ability to colonize disturbed areas as a pioneer species.

They we excited to field-plant the tall alder sapling they had potted-up in the nursery the previous spring.

They we excited to field-plant the tall alder sapling they had potted-up in the nursery the previous spring.

.....choreographed display of exhaustion.

.....choreographed display of exhaustion.

Frogs, tadpoles and many tasks in KCD's wetland plant nursery.

The frogs and tadpoles didn't disappoint at King Conservation District's wetland plant nursery.  The flooded beds holding potted wetland species were teeming with delightful creatures.  These are encouraged with plant-flats left in the pools to create habitat.  We had to be careful not to over-flow the beds when adding water, lest the tadpoles go overboard.

My notes on exactly which species of rush, bulrush, sedge, etc. that we worked with didn't survive the trip home.  However I did find this list of plants grown at the nursery.  Giant bur-reed / Sparganium eurycarpum was the most showy plant we deadheaded (see photo below) as it has fetching spiky orbs and globular white flowers with leaves over head-height.  I am excited to spot this plant out in nature!

Hard to believe, but in 2.5ys of Squad, this is the first time we watered as a work activity.  Other tasks included cutting-off seed heads to prevent species from seeding into other pots- because some wetland species are hard for even horticulturists to identify without the flowers, we left a few on for ID purposes.  Fast-growing alders and cottonwoods had to be potted up as well.  We look forward to using the plants we've tended out on a wetland restoration site in the future.

Wetland Plant Nursery Work with King Conservation District

The roof kept the rain off but the kids loved finding other ways to get filthy.  We potted up red osier dogwood / Cornus sericea for use in restoration and habitat-enhancement projects.  New potting soil was also mixed-up with a blend suitable for plants that like soggy feet and includes biosolids from the nearby water treatment plant.  As usual, there was hot competition for who got to push the full cart.  King Conservation District offers native plants in exchange for volunteering in their nursery.  Come back in the spring and summer to see the tadpoles and frogs that love the flooded beds.

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