Dry, dry summer

sunWe plant hardy, native plants in all of our restoration projects. In addition to playing important roles in our healthy forests, these species evolved to the conditions in the Northwest, and for the most part can thrive with a lot less intensive care than most plants. However, even these tough guys are struggling in this summer’s unusually hot, dry weather.

If you spread wood chip mulch at a volunteer event this spring or winter, right now our plants are saying a giant thank you. Like a natural buffer against extreme conditions, mulch helps slow down evaporation of water from soil, keeping plants wetter, cooler, and happier during dry weather. (Amazingly, mulch also keeps the ground warmer during cold winter days!) In many of our restoration sites, we are also implementing emergency watering measures to help extra-vulnerable new plantings from this past winter to survive the next months.

If you see your plants at home starting to wilt in the heat and dry weather we’ve been having, or worse yet, developing brown, dry tips or leaves, read on. Here are some things you can do to help your plants survive the summer:

Keep close watch: this summer has been much drier than usual, so pay a little extra attention and keep an eye out for signs of drought stress. You may need to water more often, especially if you have new plants that were recently planted. But remember that your neighbors will all be watering their plants more too, so follow the rest of these tips to conserve our water resources. As a bonus, you’ll be watering more effectively for your plants, too.

Water early, or water late: Watering your plants during the heat of the day will cause you to lose a lot to evaporation. Watering in the early morning, or late evening, when the sun is low and air temperatures are cooler, will allow more water to soak into the soil and get to your plants.

Water close to the ground: Instead of spraying high above plants, where it will quickly evaporate into the hot, dry air, point the watering stream as close to the soil as you can. Water slowly to allow it to soak into the soil instead of running off the surface. Soaker hoses, drip-irrigation setups, and tree watering bags can also help a lot.

Water deeply: a lot of water, slightly less often, is better then a little water more often. Water gets deeper down into soil and encourages plants to grow longer, stronger roots.

Think about shade: Very young plants that are having an especially tough time might benefit from partial shade covers made from lightweight cloth, narrow wood lattice, or old window screens.

More mulch! Something to cover the ground, like wood chip mulch, straw, or even gravel can help slow water from evaporating out of the soil. Mulch is your best friend for conserving water and helping your plants at the same time.

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Let us know what works for you, and good luck!

Take volunteering to the next level – Stewards wanted!

MorrillMeadows_creditLauraMarchbanksPhotography_10152011_031Want to join a team of volunteers who make a BIG difference? If you’ve dropped in for a work party with your local Green City Partnership, you have a taste of what volunteer restoration is like. Take it to the next level and see how a longer-term restoration project can transform a park you love. Be a local leader, inspire others to get involved, and learn what it takes to keep urban forests, parks, and natural areas healthy and green.

Nature in the city gives us so much: clean air, beautiful places to enjoy and encourage more frequent exercise, open space to spend time with friends, a local connection with nature that reduces stress and improves mental health, habitat for local wildlife, stormwater retention to reduce flooding, carbon sequestration, and more. Stewards are the VIPs that enable volunteer projects to be successful in taking care of valuable public spaces in their own communities.

Current Stewards have this to say:

“This has been one of the most positive volunteer experiences I have ever had. . . I can’t believe how great the park looks since we started.” – Kaytlyn, Redmond

“The park is full of small, special spots, each with its own story.” – Lex, Seattle

“The Green Kent Partnership has a powerful message, and that is to conserve the beautiful environment that we live in. It is such an honor to be a part of this.” – Danielle, Kent

[Q:What do you get out of this mostly? A:] “Its fun!” – Glenn, Redmond

I look forward to the day that I can walk through a forest that I helped create.’ – Jay, Seattle

HOW TO GET INVOLVED IN YOUR LOCAL PROGRAM:

In REDMOND: Lots of parks, including the top priorities shown on this map, are still looking for their own Forest Steward – could it be you?! An orientation for new Forest Stewards will be held on Monday, April 20th. For more information and to RSVP, click here.

In KIRKLAND: An orientation for new Green Kirkland Stewards on Sunday, May 9th welcomes you to jump in! Contact Katie to be placed on the list.

In EVERETT: This relatively new program is ready for Forest Stewards to take the reins in some awesome parks. Contact Joanna for more information on getting involved.

In TACOMA: There will be an orientation later this year for new Habitat Stewards. Contact Yvonne for more information.

In KENT: Find your own corner of Green Kent and dig in. Contact Desiree to find out when the next orientation will be held for new Stewards.

In SEATTLE: Join a team of Forest Stewards working in a park near you. They’ll be thrilled to have an extra set of helping hands, and you’ll learn hands-on restoration from the pros as you get great work done together. To get connected with a group, contact Andrea.

Lili Allala

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Register now for the Green Kent Steward orientation

Come learn what the Green Kent Partnership is all about! The orientation will provide you with an understanding of how you can get involved as a Steward of your own restoration site or supporting other Stewards. You will also get a basic understanding of “tree-iage” and the four phases of restoration, plus have a lot of hands-on fun learning planting techniques and invasive removal. No experience necessary.  Register for the orientation by emailing Victoria, or call 253-856-5113 for more information.

HPIM1489March 23, 9:00 AM – Noon
Kent Senior Activity Center
600 E. Smith Street

Stewards are committed volunteers who lead a restoration project at a park or natural area, with the support of Green Kent staff. Stewards lead at least 4 work parties a year at their site, or contribute 20 hours of service on their own if they prefer. You can also become a Support Steward and help out when you can.

If you just want to pitch in for a few hours, visit www.greenkent.org and look for a work party coming up!

Here’s what some of the current Stewards are saying:

“I grew up in Kent, traveled Europe for a few years while serving in the Army, then came back to Kent. I joined the Green Kent Partnership because I have always had a passion for environmental issues, and I recognized the need to improve my own community. I chose to become a steward of Springwood Park because I believe it has a lot of potential. It’s a large park that needs a lot of love. With help from volunteers and the parks department, I know we can make it a great park.” – Springwood Park Steward Zandria Michaud

“I really love this program. It offers accountants like me the chance to get outside and do volunteer work. I can contribute to the community when I have time available. I have also been able to offer local teenagers service hours for school by having them help with the work. My grandson does miss the blackberries, but we can go explore the woods now instead!” – Pheasants Hollow Steward Nancy Terry

“I love the outdoors and I love doing things that benefit others. I spend a lot of time in the Kent Parks with my son JJ, so I thought this would be the perfect way to give back! I chose North Lake Meridian because it is right outside of the Meridian Junior High school and is next to the trail that kids walk through to get to school. I attended Meridian Junior High and walked that trail every day. There truly is something refreshing, relaxing, and rewarding about removing the naughty part of Mother Nature, and replacing it with the nice!  Playing in the mud is just a bonus.” – Lake Meridian Park Steward Debbie Larson

“My latest volunteer adventure is as a Steward for Lake Fenwick Park in Kent. This gives me the opportunity to work with fellow volunteers while getting my hands dirty . . . I don’t know ‘if no one is in the forest and a tree falls if it makes a sound’; however, I do know how much work a small group of volunteers can accomplish in a few hours on a Saturday.” – Lake Fenwick Park Steward Gina Tallarigo

Seattle leads the nation in sustainable urban forestry!

The Emerald City remains true to its name. The City of Seattle’s Parks and Recreation was awarded the distinction of Forest Stewardship Certification, the highest international certification for sustainable maintenance of forests. While FSC has become a standard for sustainability for timber forests, Seattle is the first metropolitan area in the country to receive this certification for urban forestry!

As the first Green City Partnership, Seattle represents the realization of a public-private model to bring the community together to promote healthy forests and sustainable ecosystems. We’re pleased to have been able to participate and share in Seattle’s success!

Currently, the Green Seattle Partnership estimates that 23 percent of the entire city is covered by tree canopy – but the goal is much greater: “We have a goal for our forest of 30 percent canopy for the entire city” says Mark Mead, senior urban forester for Seattle Parks and Recreation. Considering that the potential loss of urban forests in just 20 years without active stewardship is 70 percent, this 7 percent increase will take lots of work. But, we know Seattle is tackling this challenge in with the highest sustainability standards!

Congratulations Seattle!

How are you helping our city and region to expand the tree canopy …and all of the benefits that come with it?

The Art of Tree Management

“We managed light, we paint with light, and we paint with shade in our trees.”

A couple walks through the light and shadows created by an urban forest. Photo credit to Natalie Cheel

This is how Dr. Kim Coder begins his recent discussion of tree management on Arbor Views, the podcast for the International Society of Arboriculture.

What a unique way to describe how arborists integrate trees into our environment! They work with the absence and presence of light yet, their art sets its course in a potential stage, and arborists must continue to negotiate with the trees themselves in order to manipulate their benefits and obstacles.

“All the benefits we derive from trees, many of those things actually are a proxy for how healthy the crown is, how healthy the green stuff is. We can make bigger stronger trees …which is what arbor care is all about”

Several simple models help us develop each tree’s potential growth. This gives us better clues to evaluate how our own trees are doing. In fact, 78-82% of the weight mass of a tree is from water:

“If you look at a tree, if we had infrared vision, we could see that in a nice sunny day, it’s a fountain of water … below the leaves, coming from that crown is just a bubbling cauldron of water vapor.”

That description illustrates how Dr. Coder found that about 80% of all variation in tree development is due to water – whether there’s too much or too little or how the aeration process for the water vapor is managed.

This type of research demonstrates the greatest tool we have to manipulate the soil or the branches, and guide the tree as our paintbrush. But also, this research teaches us that more patience is necessary for letting the tree figure out its issues.

Who knew tree scientists are artists painting the canvas of our cities with light!

reLeaf-ing Seattle

The City of Seattle’s Trees for Neighborhoods program is up and running, taking applications from residents for up to 4 free trees to keep the city green. Many tree species even have wait-lists! As a public partnership with the community, Green Cities wants to highlight four majestic trees that are still available….for now! If you have room for these larger trees in your yard, they will bring that much more value to our urban forest for years to come.

Frontier Elm

– Frontier Elm –
The Frontier Elm is a unique cultivar of Chinese and European elms. While most elms turn yellow in autumn,  ‘Frontier’ is a trail blazer with striking burgundy-red foliage. An exciting addition to your backyard!

– Japanese Cedar –
Despite its name the Japanese cedar isn’t really a cedar, instead this bluish needled tree is a member of the Cypress family. An evergreen with true year-round interest!

A young Western Red Cedar

 – Western Red Cedar –
Lewis and Clark thought that Western red cedars were amazing enough to be called the “trees of life” -arbor vitae. Plant one in your backyard and bring life to your neighborhood!

– Fernleaf Beech –
The Romans believed carrying around a piece of beech wood could bring good luck. Let the Fernleaf beech bring good fortune to your yard with its whimsically shaped leaves, and help to increase your neighborhoods tree cover!

You can get your own through Seattle reLeaf’s Trees for Neighborhoods program!