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BLOG-Going Native

Starting at 10am today Saturday 28 April, Cox Arboretum is holding its annual wildflower sale, and I must recommend it. The sale features native wildflowers collected by the arboretum’s knowledgable volunteers. An apprentice volunteer myself in the Five River Metroparks system, I will be there at 9am handing out coffee to the early comers. Mother Nature has graced us with a light kissing rain nothing that will dissuade the strong following of this favorite event.

Native wildflowers are a blessing to the novice gardener. Since they come from our local soil, they transplant beautifully. Merely note the well marked recommendation on each plant to the type of sun/shade and drainage it prefers, match the recommendations to your site, and really you can’t go wrong. At this same event last year, I bought trillium, poppy, wild geranium, and wild ginger for my shady herb garden, and this spring every one of these plants came back strong.

Featured in the pictures above, I got a good peak at this year’s offerings as I was at Cox Arboretum for Arbor Day. My primary mission was to hand out seedling trees to foster families from around the Greater Dayton region. The metropark is engaged in a massive reforestation program stepping up to the considerable challenge posed by a single menacing pest. Due to the invasion of the emerald ash borer, the area is losing 1 out of 5 of its trees. The Ash is a stately tree, so its loss means a 30% reduction of Dayton’s tall tree canopy. The seedlings we put into foster care yesterday—red oaks, bur oaks, and elm—are scheduled for planting Spring 2013. The foster families are entrusted to keep the seedling watered and protected from pests until October of this year. Many families participated last year; one man talked proudly of the rain barrels he has set up for watering the trees. More acidic than our local tap water, his rain water has produced amazing results in his own flower beds and he was proud to offer his foster babies the same treatment. People clearly love this program. The new parents cooed over their little one unabashedly demonstrating their excitement at participating. Our work was steady, many people taking multiple flats. The returning participants have already proved their commitment; last year’s foster program returned hardy viability rate of over 80% tree seedlings.

As with Saturday’s Wildflower and Native Plant Sale, the reforestation effort is also focused on native plants. Activities involve seed collection in the early fall, cleaning, planting, nurturing in the late fall and winter, site preparation and planting in the spring, and foster care of seedlings in the spring and summer. The park system offers classes in native species and silviculture constantly augmenting its knowledgeable staff and volunteer force. If you would like to be a part of the effort, go to www.metroparks.org/forest to learn more.

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