As we all know, Roanoke Park is being wrested from the grip of Bush Honeysuckle. And underneath that in many areas was found a lot of wintercreeper. Those two combined have been quite effective at eliminating native plants from certain areas of the park's hillsides and weakening its trees. In some cases, no other plants are growing. In others, only other weeds have been able to compete with these super-weeds. Remnant patches of native plants remain of course, giving cause for hope. But with weeds advancing feet or inches away, how long they hold out may be up to you...
If you have time and are interested in helping make space for more favored plants in Roanoke Park, feel free to pull some of the worst offender weeds. Just be sure to positively identify what you're pulling. We need all the good green we can find. Tamp the soil back down after pulling anything. Watch out for poison ivy of course, and note that the soil of Roanoke Park is unfortunately heavily "amended" with broken glass. Wearing gloves is wise.
Garlic Mustard, Allaria petiolata. Photo taken in Roanoke Park April 12, 2011
Garlic Mustard, Allaria petiolata, is an edible plant imported from Europe that is highly invasive and just becoming common in our area. It kills competing plants and can completely take over. Native butterflies are fooled into laying eggs on it but the larvae do not survive. Pull the whole plant, being sure to get the main part of the root. A trowel or dandelion puller is helpful to loosen the soil slightly before pulling. Garlic mustard can self pollinate and produce seed even after being pulled from the ground. Put in black plastic trash bags, leave to cook in the sun for a week or longer, then discard with trash. DO NOT COMPOST. It's more commonly seen on the lower half of slopes in Roanoke Park. For more detail on Garlic Mustard, see these two pdf info sheets from Wisconsin, a state where garlic mustard is further along than it is here: garlicmustard-wisc.pdf and garlicmustard-wildones.pdf.
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.
Roanoke Park is an important historical Kansas City asset. Its value is greatest to its closest residents. Time and neglect have taken a toll on our neighborhood park. The wooded ravines have lost important trees and the rugged cliffs have become hidden by invasive plants. The park's beauty has become marred. Comparing old photos with more recent ones confirms that the park is not as enticing as it once was.Even when Kansas City was not in such dire financial straits, city resources for the park have been sparse. Many neighborhood parks are being recognized for their value as neighborhood assets and sanctuaries of peacefulness in urban areas. This trend is sweeping the nation and the globe as neighborhood groups join together to support local parks that have suffered from urban decay and government neglect.Our efforts on behalf of Roanoke Park are a public/private partnership initiative to honor the history and plant the future of Roanoke Park. We do this for the betterment of our city, and especially the neighborhoods that share Roanoke Park.