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Archive for July, 2016

Workshop flyer-final

Our bayous and bays are greatly impacted by the quality of the stormwater flowing into them, and now is a great time to start improving it with practices we can implement at home, work, or beyond.

Join us in a beautiful setting–the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory’s new LEED-certified building in Lake Jackson, TX.

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Creating a wetland from what looks like a construction site has been a lot of fun. We began with the planting of water lilies, and there were some full-body immersions as we planted in 3’-4’ feet of cool groundwater on a hot day.

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Danny indicates the depth where he is planting water lilies. Photo: Jerry Hamby

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Community members plant the wetland area on June 25. Photo: Jerry Hamby

We passed a major milestone and it was composed of water, mud, plants and volunteers. After years of community meetings, planning, hydrology studies, waiting on permits, excavating, and raising plants, the first portion of the first lake at Exploration Green is ready for a stormwater wetland.

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Armand Bayou Nature Center (3)From sprinkler to storm drain, from bayou to bay, the water used to maintain your yard remains untreated. What you do to your lawn and what runs off it determines the health of your local bayou and Galveston Bay. Runoff from residential areas in the Galveston Bay watershed is the No. 1 source of water pollution in most of our bayous. However, you can take steps to reduce the pollution that flows off your yard by adopting WaterSmart practices.

WaterSmart landscapes

A WaterSmart yard uses plants and practices that require little or no fertilizers or pesticides and less water than conventional lawns. With minimal grass cover and maximum use of native and adapted plants, the WaterSmart landscape can be beautiful, easy to maintain, and environmentally friendly.

WaterSmart landscapes can reduce the amount of polluted runoff entering the storm drain system by 90 percent. They can also cut the amount of water you use for irrigation by 90 percent. By converting your lawn one section at a time, you can create a landscape that helps preserve the bay area and gradually reduces your maintenance time. (more…)

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monet iris

From the name of a greek goddess, to its use by Claude Monet within his famous garden and paintings, and further to its popular status as a diverse horticultural variety or cultivar, the Iris has widespread play within our culture and (more importantly) our natural world.

According to Correll and Correll (the authority on the aquatic and wetland plants of Southwestern US), there are “more than 200 species in the Northern Hemisphere.”  We are lucky enough to have several native Iris species within our region, including Iris virginica, Iris brevicaulis, and Iris fulva.  Both Iris virginica and Iris brevicaulis have the typical blue-purple and gold color pattern, whereas Iris fulva is distinctively coppery red in color and equally attractive.  It is worth noting that our one unfortunate invasive Iris (Iris pseudacorus, which is native to Europe, western Asia and northwest Africa)  has a large bright yellow flower, and reproduces rapidly via rhizomes and seeds, and we must be aware of this noxious invader.  Slide1

My first encounter with Irises came as a SCA/Americorps intern at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.  Driving around Moccasin pond, I marveled at the pretty Iris blooms along the pond edge, intermingled with the native Canna (Canna glauca).  The pond was teeming with life and flowers.  Later, I took my godmother and my mom on a similar tour around the pond, and they also enjoyed the floral display (as well as the sunbathing gators strewn over the road edges).

As part of my restoration work at Sheldon Lake State Park and other sites around Galveston Bay, I have used only the two “blue” species–Iris virginica and Iris brevicaulis.  Each species is specific to a region and habitat….where I. virginica can handle some salinity (fresh to brackish tidal conditions) and the coastal soils, I. brevicaulis finds its niche within the partial shady edges of forests.   These showy natives bloom late spring to early summer, but their bright green to silvery green foliage can remain year-round.  They are both considered obligate wetland plants making them ideal for wetland restoration in their appropriate place within the natural landscape.

When spring returns to our area early next year, be sure to seek out and admire these classic flowering wetland natives.  panoramic photo iris

 

 

 

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