Cornelius' Corner:

"Celebrating Earth Month 2024"
12
May

Cornelius’ Corner: “Celebrating Earth Month 2024”

Hi, friends!

I hope you have been enjoying the gorgeous weather and all of the fun spring flowers and singing birds. My last blog was all about the plantings my coworkers and volunteers did in the new wetland by the Frog Pond outdoor classroom, so for this blog I wanted to highlight all the other really cool projects that were accomplished during Earth Month in April!


Troops 05675 and 5073 planting in the Bird Habitat Patch.

Bird Habitat Patch

Girl Scout Troops 0567 and 5073, plus local community members, worked with Chris Weaver, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited – Glen Mills (WBU), to continue improving the bird habitat patch near the mill dam as part of WBU’s “Bringing Back the Birds – Naturally” campaign. This campaign emphasizes using native plants and habitat restoration to build landscapes that provide birds with all of the food, water, and shelter resources that they need to thrive. As a part of this project, volunteers improved drainage in a small wetland at the front of the habitat patch, then planted swamp milkweed, white turtlehead, cardinal flower, and great blue lobelia flowers to provide lots of seed and bug foods for the birds. They also planted witch hazel shrubs on the adjacent hillside, which will provide lots of seeds for migratory birds in the fall. In addition, the volunteers removed invasive Japanese Honeysuckle vines that can smother new plantings and performed health checks on trees and shrubs planted during last year’s Earth Month activities.


Tree planting with Troops 42090 and 4125

Tree Planting

Girl Scout Troops 42090 and 4125 and employees from LaFrance helped to plant trees in the Beech Forest and the area between the Log Cabin and Visitor Center. The scouts added three Eastern redbud trees near the Blacksmith Shop, which were grown using seed collected from a tree planted by the park’s founders Elizabeth and E. Mortimer Newlin. They also planted three Franklinia trees in the same area. These special trees were named by 18th-century botanist John Bartram in honor of his friend Benjamin Franklin and have not been seen in the wild since 1803. These trees, as well as an American elm planted along the back parking lot, were donated by friend of the park Chuck Feld last fall. All of these trees will add to the natural beauty of the park, in addition to seeds for wildlife and nectar for pollinators.

The group from LaFrance planted tulip poplar, shagbark hickory, and red oak trees in the beech forest on the hillside above the millrace. These trees are part of the Park’s plan for mitigating the impact of beech leaf disease as it spreads closer to Glen Mills. These species are shade tolerant or grow well in sunny forest clearings and will help to diversify the plant composition of the forest. This will help make the forest healthier in the long-run, even if the beech trees begin to decline.


Troop 574 in the Forest Classroom

Frog Pond & Forest Outdoor Classrooms

Girl Scout Troop 574 worked hard to prepare the Forest outdoor classroom for the busy spring field trip season by cleaning tree cages of vines and fallen limbs, removing invasive plant species like Japanese barberry and multiflora rose, and adding new branches to the brush boundary fence. Thanks to their hard work, the Forest Classroom is a safe place for outdoor exploration and discovery, in addition to being a great place for wildlife and wildflowers. Two classes from Goshen Friends School have already visited the forest this season during their recent story time programs and got to enjoy meeting roly-polies, carpenter ants, and even a cyanide millipede! Meanwhile, at the Frog Pond, Boy Scout Troop 22 completed a variety of improvements to the classroom, including planting black gum and Carolina allspice trees, plus buttonbush, white wood aster, violets, golden ragwort, and American alumroot. As these plants grow and spread, they will provide shelter for the Park’s frogs and toads, while attracting yummy bugs for them to eat!


Celanese pulling Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard is an invasive plant species that was introduced from Europe in the mid-1800s for food and medicine. Unfortunately, the plants didn’t stay in the gardens they were planted in and have spread throughout our region. In our natural areas, they form dense stands that steal sun and water from native plants and crowd out sensitive wildflowers like Virginia bluebells, mayapples, and trout lilies.

Luckily, the plant is easily controlled by hand-pulling while it is in bloom, and we had 71 volunteers come out to help us. Overall, they pulled more than 800 gallons-worth of garlic mustard from the Park’s trails. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers from Celanese; St Joseph’s Parish; Cub Scout Pack 77; Garnet Valley High School’s Interact Club; and Girl Scout Troops 597, 5225, and 5039; the wildflowers along the Industrial, Beech, and Osage trails will have more room to grow and spread this year!


Bird Box installation with Youth Wildlife Initiative

Eastern Bluebird Boxes

Students with the Youth Wildlife Initiative installed four new bird boxes in the field near the greenhouse and replaced an old damaged box in the field by the Christmas Tree Farm. Over the last year, my coworkers had observed a number of Eastern bluebirds foraging for food around the greenhouse, so they decided to add a few boxes to see if any of those birds would move in. The boxes were donated by the Eastern Bluebird Society (EBS) and are being regularly monitored by an EBS volunteer. As of the time of writing, one of the new boxes has been claimed by Carolina chickadees, another has been claimed by a pair of Eastern bluebirds, and a third is being carefully considered by a picky pair of tree swallows!


What a phenomenal list of accomplishments for a single month! I don’t know about you, but I’m tired just reading about all that work. If you stop by for a visit, be sure to keep an eye out for all the new plantings and happy nesting birds. I’ll be catching up on my naps in my tank!

Your friendly neighborhood corn snake,

Cornelius

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