Read about how an MDC Habitat Grant was awarded to the project for background and initial plans.
Those plans culminated on May 16, 2015 when 815 native plants were planted.
Throughout the latter half of 2015 (after the planting), Chris DeLong kept the site weeded by pulling the unfortunate infestation of barnyardgrass that threatened to overwhelm the plantings in the wetland area. Our friends at Taylor Creek Restoration Nursery say that the barnyardgrass should reduce over time. Let's hope.
Most of the plants installed in May appeared to thrive. The area southwest of the deeper pool turned out to stay much wetter than expected, so not all of the "medium moisture" plants put there did well. The more successful plants included the pickeralweed, cardinalflower, blue lobelia and mistflower. The nodding bur marigold that was already there put on a show of yellow flowers. One of the swamp milkweed plants even bloomed, which was exciting for year one.
More park visitors began making the site a stop on their ramblings through the park. Unfortunately many saw fit to walk straight up and down the hill adjacent to the spring, limiting the growth of plants in that area. (Please Leave No Trace and Stay on the Trails.)
The spring continued to be visited by a great many birds. A pair of mallard ducks called it home in the springtime and a great variety of birds were drawn in by the water, and the many insects buzzing around.
Staying semi-green through the mild 2015-2016 winter were the irises, clumps of smooth rush, many of the sedges, and the golden ragwort (which appears to have reseeded itself rather freely.)
Brett Shoffner is putting more work into the trails at the spring source, making a more sustainable rock path where the trail on the lip of the hill crosses the spring water. Again, please stay on the trails to protect our new plantings. (If it will stop raining, Brett should be back to finish it up soon.)
On April 16 a few volunteers came to help weed the area next to the old road bed. The wintercreeper from which the area is being reclaimed was pushed further back from the wetland and spring source areas. This will be an ongoing project.
156 more plants were planted into the spring area between April 23 and May 14th, including:
On April 23 a group of volunteers came from the local global anti-poverty charity Unbound, including Coleman Highlands resident and long time park helper Paul Pearce. They planted the 90 field pussytoes and the two pawpaw trees then headed over to the adjacent Grocer's Warehouse area to plant 25 fragrant sumac, and 20 virginia creeper.
The Rockhurst High School Ecology Club joined Chris DeLong and Missouri Master Naturalist Kate Roos on May 14th to plant the wild ginger, pickeralweed and swamp milkweed. Then the group headed over to the Grocer's Warehouse area to plant 200 bottlebrush wildrye native ornamental grass plugs. (Matt G. from Hufft ran a cord out to us so we could drill holes using a power drill and planting auger.) Kate did a masterful job supervising the weeding of the spring source area and planting the wild ginger. RHS ecology club leader and biology teacher Heidi Kuster was very excited to return to the spring in the future for more learning with her students. (And to play in the park since she lives nearby.)
Signage Designed and Installed
Interpretive signage was installed on site this spring as required by the MDC grant. See the gallery at left. Thanks to KCMO Parks for producing and installing it.
A bonus sign regarding the geology of the park and the spring was installed near the park bench at the top trail. Thanks to Dr. Gentile from UMKC for consulting on this sign to make it as accurate as possible.
The Karnes playground has been a huge hit for Roanoke Park and its visitors. One complaint that has been heard however is that there can be a lack of shade on sunny days and the equipment can get quite hot. To address that concern, the Roanoke Park Conservancy's playground committee requested this past fall that more trees be planted by the parks department. Rachel Porter, Lance Klein and Chris DeLong worked together to pick the most desirable trees from the city's "contract planting list." Two fast growing and tall trees were chosen for the south side of the playground, where they could provide the most shade in the fewest number of years: a Northern Red Oak, and a Tuliptree (Tulip Poplar). A Sugar Maple was planted not far from the swing set, a Black Tupelo near the "council ring," and a Serviceberry near the boulders and sand. Lance's plan also calls for a White Oak closer to Karnes and a Caddo Maple north of the playground, but those have yet to be planted. Most of these selections are Missouri native trees with high wildlife value and all are handsome trees. We can hear the birds singing already!
Additionally, Lance and Chris requested that more trees be planted to replace those that have fallen or are in declining condition around the "sledding hill" west of Karnes. Two of those have already been planted, both Bur Oaks. North of the small blue swingset, a Bur Oak fell a couple years ago and you can still see the trunk and up-ended roots. Then recently a large White Oak fell not far away, blocking the trail until its rotted trunk was chain sawed out of the way. The trees on either side of the blue swingset are White Oaks that appear to be in decline. Lance and Chris requested that "replacement trees" be planted now near those two. Also requested was a Chinkapin Oak near Karnes, near where the stump is still visible from one of the parks old sentries that came down in 2011-12.
Red Oak, Quercus rubra — 60–90’ tall. Fastest growing oak. Common in Roanoke Park's forest interior, on the middle shelf. Not super long lived (100-125 yrs).
White Oak, Quercus alba — 60-90’ tall. The park needs more of them since our largest ones are not in great health. Wide canopied large trees with deeply divided leaves and large acorns.
Sugar Maple , Acer sacharum 'Legacy'— 40-80’ tall. Dense shade and shallow roots tend to prevent grass from growing beneath them. Gorgeous fall color (see the big one north of Karnes, east of the spring).
"Caddo Maple", Acer sacharum ‘Autumn Splendor’ — 30-60' tall. Very good fall color, drought tolerant.
Tuliptree, Liriodendron tulipifera — 60-90’ tall. Fast growing. Not very valuable to wildlife. Not native to our part of the state but grows well. Attractive blooms.
Black Tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica ‘Afterburner Tupelo’ –– 30-40' tall. Nice shape (pyramidal when young) and glossy leaves. Its native range is only a few counties away. Also called Black Gum or Sour Gum, for the edible, but sour berries.
Serviceberry, Amelanchier laevis ‘JFS-Arb’ — 20-30' tall. Nice white spring flowers, edible berries, fall color. This is a single trunk selection of the east of the Mississippi species, also sold as 'Spring Flurry.' (Our local serviceberry species is Amelanchier arborea. A few exist within the park.)
Bur Oak, Quercus macrocarpa — 60-80’ tall. May be slow growing but grows into a large muscular tree. The twigs, often with corky bark extensions, are thick to support the golf ball sized acorns (largest of all oaks).
Chinkapin Oak, Quercus muhlenbergii — 40-60' tall. Most common oak in the park. Not as tall or fast growing as red oak, but has a beautiful semi-open wide crown and ‘gnarly’ branches. Squirrels go into a feeding frenzy on the acorns and gobble them into bits. Very long lived. (Chinkapins on Blue River Glade near Swope Park have been dated at over 200 years old. The larger ones in Roanoke Park are almost certainly as old.)