National Public Lands Day Project
National Public Lands Day is held every year on a Saturday in late September, and thousands of volunteers participate in many projects across the country to restore and improve publicly owned lands and facilities. For many years, Greenbelt Park has hosted projects for Public Lands Day, and since last year, the City of Greenbelt has also participated with its own project. This year, the city’s project is adding native plantings at Stream Valley Park.
Table for National Public Lands Day by Crescent Road, across the street from St. Hugh Catholic Church
Stream Valley Park is between Lakewood (a subdivision of single family homes) and Northway.
The group walks together to the project site.
Mayor Judith Davis and GHI Board member Bill Jones. The Greenhill/Hillside Road Stream Restoration Project, which will be dedicated today, is a joint effort of the State of Maryland, the City of Greenbelt, and Greenbelt Homes, Inc.
Mayor Davis says to those gathered that this area was badly eroded. The Maryland Department of the Environment, GHI (as it owns parts of the land), and the City all contributed money to the restoration project. Step pools were created to slow down the water. Standing on the left is Lesley Riddle, Assistant Director of Parks and Grounds.
Most of the people participating in today’s project are University of Maryland freshmen in the Integrated Life Sciences program. Each student is required to complete 12 service hours each semester.
From left are City Councilmembers Ed Putens and Silke Pople, and Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan. (Councilmember Leta Mach is also in attendance.)
Mayor Davis compliments Lesley Riddle and other Public Works employees for working with contractors to carry out the project and, in particular, for saving trees.
Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan says that the city loves working with University of Maryland students and invites them to come back to work on projects in the city.
The stream with newly installed step pools is just behind the students.
Brian Townsend, the city’s horticulture supervisor, shows the group what needs to be done. He says that the plants to be planted today attract butterflies and songbirds. The first thing to do is to take the plant out of the pot and break up the roots lightly.
A shovel can be used to break up the roots as well.
Then a hole is dug.
The plant is then put in, even with the soil line.
Soil is put in and mulch is applied to the surface.
Councilmember Silke Pope plants black-eyed Susan.
Councilmember Ed Putens
Councilmember Leta Mach
Michael Chesnes, a member of GHI Woodlands Committee, plants black-eyed Susan.
Leta Mach plants columbine.
New England aster
Michael Jawer (right) of the Public Work Department and a volunteer plant purple coneflower.
New England Aster
Breaking up the roots of a winterberry holly.
Lesley Riddle helps two students pull a winterberry holly plant from its pot.
Brian Townsend shows two students how to break up the roots of a larger plant.
After the project is over, Lesley Riddle talks to students about the importance of such stream restoration projects.
Michael Jawer cleans up after the students and volunteers are gone.
I ask Brian Townsend to tell me a little bit about each plant. He starts with columbine which is a spring-blooming flower.
Purple coneflower is loved by many birds who feed on its seed heads, including finches and goldfinches.
Birds and small mammals will eat off viburnum (left) berries.
Goldenrod is loved by all types of butterflies. The plants are planted in threes so when they grow up they will form a clump.
Lesley Riddle says that people think that they are allergic to goldenrod but, in fact, ragweed is the culprit.
Joe-Pye weed can grow up to five or six feet tall, and they are loved by monarch butterflies.
New England aster attracts butterflies.
Elderberry (Sambucus) can grow quite tall, to 15 feet. “A lot of animals feed on its berries when it gets bigger.”
Black-eyed Susan, Maryland’s state flower. This is a perennial kind.
Townsend checks a label.
Holly Winterberry Winter Red
The two winterberry bushes on the left are females, and the one on the right is male. “You have to have one male in order for the female to set to berries.”
The red winterberries will stay on during the winter, even in the snow.
Townsend says that in the first year, they will water these plants and in the second, they will probably let them go. In the spring, columbines and viburnums will flower; in the summer are black-eyed Susans and purple coneflowers; in the fall asters and goldenrods; and in the winter the ornamental plants to watch are elderberries and winterberries.