Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's hot but we're out there!

This week was a good turnout despite the hot weather with 6 people helping out.  We pretty much finished removing the Canada Thistle but it wasn't easy, the patch of thistle was completely surrounded by thorny rose bushes.  It was hard to turn around and there wasn't a lot of space to work in.

We also discovered quite a few native trees that had been planted in recent years but they were pretty much buried among the Thistle, the Tansy and the rose bushes.  We quickly removed all of these to give more room to the trees and added a lot of mulch around the trees to help them with moisture.

Christine and Ty did a great job on the mulching.
Someone found this cute toad while working.

After I had finished with the Canada Thistle, I proceeded to work on the Tansy.  It's still fairly easy to pull it but I was also using a shovel to help digging it out. The branches are quite tall and it's easier to try to get a whole bunch at once.  It's a nice looking plant with a pretty color but I hate the smell of it so I really don't mind removing it.  I remember removing a lot of it when I used to be at Beechwood Wetland.

We also worked on Queen Anne's Lace or Wild Carrot.  Although it attracts insects, it's been listed as a noxious weed and is considered a serious pests in pastures.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The tansy and the thistle

Last week, we started tackling Canada Thistle and I thought we had quite a good handle on it.  I had been told that last year's stewardship team had worked extensively on this invasive.  Well as luck would have it I found a huge patch of it in another part of the site. We call it Canada Thistle here although it's not of Canadian origin, and it's also largely spread in other parts of the world and it's standard English name is "creeping thistle". It is considered a serious invasive species.

We also have quite a bit of Tansy that we started to dig out and pull.  It can spread quickly and is actually toxic.  In former centuries, people actually used to eat it or use as an herb flavouring for puddings and omelets.  I can't imagine using it in food as the smell is very pungent and one can get sick of the smell, let alone eating it.

Canada Thistle and Tansy

One method of removing it is to cut it at the stem.  However, we mostly tried to pull it.  Some of the plants though are too big and impossible to pull so we simply cut them at the base.

Our pile of compost is growing.

The northern part of the site.  There is wooded area at the back and it's a good spot to work especially in the hot weather of the last few weeks. 

The pond actually looks like one now with a good water level.

Swamp Milkweed

Friday, July 2, 2010

Back after 2 weeks

I'm back after missing stewardship for a couple of weeks.  There's been quite a bit of rain so the wetland actually looks like one. 
One of the plants now flowering along the edge of the pond is Swamp Milkweed.  It's a herbaceous plant native to North America.  Like most other milkweed, it has sap containing toxic chemicals that repels insects and herbivorous animals. It is found growing wild near the edges of ponds and is one of the plants that attract the Monarch Butterfly.
Swamp Milkweed

Once again this week, we headed to Chester Spring Marsh to continue removing invasives.  The site was also very wet and there were a lot of mosquitoes.  I found a huge patch of stinging nettle and I spent the best part of an hour removing it.

The grey area shows the level of water that covered the site after the Sunday night storm.  The area is very muddy.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Visit to Chester Spring Marsh

This week, we visited Chester Spring Marsh, which is about a 20 minute walk from Riverdale Park.  It has been decided that our team would visit the site a few times this season as it hasn't had a regular stewardship team working there since 2004.  Consequently, it's very dense and was left to its own device, so there is a lot of maintenance work needed.

After going through a wooded path, we emerge on a beach right on the Don river.
We didn't waste any time and started pulling an incredible amount of invasives. 
We had 3 piles like this one of all the stuff we pulled including garlic mustard, stinging nettle, burdock and dame's rocket.

I also noticed quite a bit of Japanese knotweed, another highly invasive species in the valley because of its rapid growth and height.  The Global Invasive Species Database has listed it as one of the World's 100 Worst Invasive Alien Species. According to an article in Wikipedia about Japanese Knotweed "The invasive root system and strong growth can damage foundations, buildings, flood defences, roads, paving, retaining walls and architectural sites." There is also an interesting video posted a few years ago on Don Watcher's blog.

Manitoba Maple. 
We managed to clear quite a large patch of these seedlings which have had a field day on this site in the last few years.

My co-leader Christine.  She is not the one who damaged that tree, none of our tools would have such a devastating effect on a tree.  It was of course the work of beavers.  Amazingly, the tree is still alive.

Lots of burdock and it's getting pretty big everywhere on the site.
I took this picture which shows a tree that's almost completely flattened in the ground, I don't recall ever seeing something like that.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Some maintenance work

This week, we got busy cutting invasives and other vegetation around planted native species in order to give the natives some room to grow.  
 Recently planted trees and bushes such as Silver Maple and Dogwood need a little help when non native species start to grow around them. 

 The pond was pretty dry earlier this week but we've had quite a bit of rain in the last couple of days so I'm looking forward to see some water in there next week.

There are more Blue Flag irises at this site than I've seen in other parts of the Don.

We also did some mulching around the native plants to provide them with some moisture.  It was a hot night so we always make sure to drink lots of water.  

Monday, May 31, 2010

One more time for garlic mustard

Last week, we had observed an abundance of this plant and I had another look at it. I'm now pretty sure it is cleavers since it's stem is very scratchy. 
We continued working on garlic mustard but it's really the last time we can try to pull it as it's getting really tall and hard to remove without breaking it. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New stewardship site

For the summer of 2010, I decided to switch to a different site although not very far from Riverdale Farm.  It's actually right across the river on the east side.  It's still in Riverdale in Toronto, thus the new name of my blog.  A few years ago, a new wetland was created at the base of Riverdale Park and last year was the first year a stewardship group was formed at this new site called Riverdale Park East Wetland.

It's a small site with a woodland at the back and the pond in the middle almost always dry up in the summer.  Because of its size, it can be managed easily with a small team of 4 or 5 people which seems to be the size of the team this year.

This is what the pond looks like in the middle of May so I can imagine what it will be like in the summer.  There isn't a lot of water there.

However, like any other site in the valley, there is no shortage of garlic mustard and it was about time we started pulling those.  Donwatcher has just written an interesting post about garlic mustard.


We also saw an abondance of this plant which according to the Field Guide to Wildflowers may be either Cleavers or Wild Madder.  If it's Cleaver, the stem should be very scratchy with recurved prickles.  I'll have to wait until next week to verify that.  In any case, these species are alien and their presence is not a good thing.

There is however a Silver Maple which is nice to see.

The team will also be working at Chester Springs Marsh.  There used to be a stewardship team there but it stopped a few years ago mainly because it's not very easy to access.  Luckily, from Riverdale Park East, it's easier to get there and we will go a few times in the summer.

I'll keep you posted throughout the summer with the progress of my new stewardship team.