Deeply rooted in parks PDF Print E-mail
Written by HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor   
Saturday, 11 January 2014 09:16
Bryan Bockbrader, a stewardship coordinator for Wood County Park District, is seen at J.C. Reuthinger Memorial Preserve in Perrysburg. (Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Seed catalogs may have been a popular diversion for gardeners stuck at home this week by snow and cold and ice.
For a couple of dozen volunteers, Thursday offered an opportunity to get their gardening hands dirty at the annual Wood County Park District's native plant seed cleaning marathon.
"Seventy-five percent of the district's volunteer hours are based around the native plant program," Bryan Bockbrader, head of the district's stewardship program said. "That's just awesome."
Volunteers donated 5,756 hours to all park projects in 2012.
Bolstering the native plant populations in the district's 19 parks is a key part of the stewardship program, along with educating residents about native plants and encouraging removal of a variety of invasive plants, shrubs and trees.
Bockbrader is especially proud of the native plant work that has been done at William Henry Harrison Park just south of Pemberville, and at Otsego Park on Ohio 65 along the Maumee River.
Bryan Bockbrader removes seeds from a green headed coneflower.
Later this month the department's four-person staff will begin to plant thousands of seeds harvested and cleaned in 2012. The 2013 seed will be planted in 2014.
Bockbrader said the cold storage delay before planting is known as stratification and simulates winter conditions to promote germination. Other seed undergoes scarification (rubbing it on a rough surface) to encourage germination. Some seeds, such as pea partridge and black-eyed susan, get better germination just by just letting the seed fall into the bed, he said.
Planting is done in the greenhouse at the district's Reuthinger Preserve on Oregon Road in Perrysburg Township. Funds from Friends of the Wood County Parks paid for the greenhouse. Before that plants were grown at the Ag Incubator and Bostdorff Greenhouse.
Volunteers later will help transplant seedlings into larger containers. Some of the plants will be set into nearly 100 50-foot by 4-foot outdoor beds at Reuthinger this spring. Seed will collected by staff and volunteers at weekly "Native Nursery Nights" as the blossoms fade through the summer and fall.
Plants will also be used in the appropriate county parks to supplement or restore habitat.
To help promote native plants in private yards and gardens the public will be able to purchase plants at the district's annual plant sale the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend and at the Bowling Green Farmers Market.
Seed collection and cleaning often produces a surplus.
"We look at what seeds we have an abundance of," Bockbrader said, "and trade with local park districts, depending on what they have and what we need." Trades over the years have been made with Bowling Green Parks and Recreation, Olander Park in Sylvania and Hancock County Park District.
In 2013 the nursery was growing 103 varieties. "We find new plants when we are removing invasive plants," Bockbrader said. Invasive plants often overrun and eventually eliminate the native plants.
Purple gerardia, a woodland plant, is being added this year after being found in Baldwin Woods near Weston and at the Bradner Preserve.
The orange-fruited horse genitan was found last year in the new Black Swamp Reserve, located south of Kenwood School and north of Gypsy Lane Road east of the Slippery Trail. The plant is about three-feet tall. "The flower isn't that significant but the fruit is a good food source for wildlife," Bockbrader said.
They also will be trying to grow hoary puccoon, which Bockbrader said needs a sandy soil "but is also a symbiotic plant, meaning it needs to be among grasses to grow. It's difficult to germinate."
Bockbrader said Eric Scott is in charge of the greenhouse and nursery. Planting in the greenhouse begins next week. The work takes several weeks, because some seeds take longer than others to germinate.
"The genitans grow slow and some of the other seeds require more sun to germinate and need longer days. One year we planted giant sunflower too early and we had eight-foot plants driving us out of the greenhouse. Those plants didn't survive well," Bockbrader said.
The most popular plants at the public sales have been lupine, cardinal flower, which works well in rain gardens and wet spots, and prickly-pear cactus, which is usually kept in a pot.
Also working in the stewardship program are Neil Box and Brianna Blair.
Stewardship plans educational programs for the early part of the year and will resume its weekly Thursday Native Nursery Nights in March. Work will be inside until planting and weeding of the nursery beds can begin.
The staff has also started bee keeping at Reuthinger and last year raised its first Bobwhite Quail. Bockbrader said a spring release is planned to attempt a reintroduction of the bird to Wood County. Bobwhite quail were decimated by the Blizzard of 1978 and loss of habitat.
Last Updated on Saturday, 11 January 2014 09:27

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