Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Time to Move

I had a chance to stop by the rain garden today, and I could not believe my eyes. Having last seen it in February, I was expecting it to remain in its tame state, with the trees managing and the grasses starting to fill in a bit.

Instead I was greeted by a virtually unrecognizable bonanza of plants, perennials thriving and the trees as green as could be.

Cohen Companies graciously donated the parcel at L & Half Streets SE for the past year for this garden project, knowing that activating the site with greenery was better for both the neighborhood and the environment than leaving it as an empty lot while they waited for the opportunity to build. Unfortunately for the garden, that opportunity has come, and it is time for us to pick up and move.

Fortunately we are able to work with our friends at the Anacostia Watershed Society to quickly find a new location. The City of Hyattsville is welcoming our 16 trees with open arms, and provided a site at Magruder Park, along the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River, as a new, permanent home.

And thus this weekend we will install the (permanent) David Stemper Memorial Grove. It will be located alongside a wetland restoration project that AWS is constructing, and provide a shady place for reflection and respite in a busy city park. Not to speak for his wife Gloria, but I think it is a wonderfully fitting tribute to David.

We need more than a dozen volunteers to pull this off in one day, and it will be warm and strenuous. But we need to move quickly as construction on the original site could start as soon as next week.

For more information about the work day, and to sign up, please visit AWS's website.

And thank you for your help and support for the past year. We hope you enjoyed the temporary display!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Volunteers at work, from above

Thanks to volunteer and garden neighbor Mike Mills for providing these great photos, taken from the roof at Velocity during our first volunteer work day!

Monday, August 29, 2011

We've weathered the storm

Once the last bands of Hurricane Irene cleared out yesterday, I headed down to the Capitol Riverfront to assess how our garden fared. Weather statements suggested that recently planted trees were at a high risk of being uprooted, so I was mostly concerned about the overall condition of the garden, and with a secondary interest in seeing how well the space captured rain water. National Airport officially received 3.83" of rain on Saturday and Sunday morning, and wind gusts reached up to 60 mph (with sustained winds briefly up to 41 mph).

I'm pleased to report that all the trees are in place, and looking great. The grass has come in nicely around the berms, and it's an attractive space.

The rain garden (swale) sections had all taken on water, with most of them still holding water and the other two quite soft. The plants there haven't taken off quite as well but there is some grass and other greenery growing and keeping the soil porous.

The two rain gardens at the eastern side are still holding onto water longer than they should. We'll assess later this week and work to fix it.

The overall site didn't show any signs of erosion or major runoff into the street and storm drains. That's great news! Some of our remaining materials are still on the paved lot and got blown around. We'll get that cleaned up when we are there later this week.

And as an aside, I also got to take a look at our new sign, identifying the project and giving passersby a quick education about low-impact design, plus information about how to learn more. Thanks to Signs By Tomorrow in Springfield, Virginia, for the great work, and Norcross Wildlife Foundation for financial support.

We want to give you a tour too! Email to schedule one for your group.

Did any neighbors observe anything at the garden during the storm? Tell us what you saw in the comments.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Now Award Winning!

Our rain garden just received third place in the 2011 Greenscape Challenge, sponsored by Cali Bamboo! This is super exciting.

Here is an excerpt from the press release:

“We received a huge response for this contest which demonstrates that a lot of people are already taking steps to make a difference with their yards. We saw everything from the use of drought tolerant plants and permeable surfaces to expansive bamboo decking projects,” says Jeff Goldberg, CEO and President of Cali Bamboo. “It was fun to see the various projects submitted throughout the U.S. on our interactive map...”

Inspired by the Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens program, the contest asked participants to submit their sustainable landscaping projects. ...

“This was an ideal contest to raise awareness for our Ocean Friendly Gardens program and the issues surrounding ocean pollution. It provided great examples of how others can create an eco-friendly garden to reduce excessive watering, and we hope it will be a stepping stone to get others involved,” said Matt McClain, Surfrider Foundation’s Director of Marketing and Communications.
We won a $250 gift certificate from Cali Bamboo for green building materials. Thanks to all the volunteers to helped make it happen!

In the News

As I mentioned before, WAMU reporter Jessica Gould stopped by our garden work day on June 30, and did some interviews with volunteers. Her story aired on July 7! Read or listen to the story and see photos here.

Friday, July 1, 2011

June 30: Work Day Report

For all intents and purposes, we're done with the installation! Huzzah! Thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help over the three work days. We had great support from Surfrider members, neighbors in the Capitol Riverfront, and of course friends of the Stempers. What a tremendous accomplishment!

Last night a dozen volunteers finished the walkways and tidied up the rocks, while soaking up a beautiful summer evening. The grass is coming in nicely around the trees, and the trees are doing well.

Sometime next week, Justin and I will put down the seed for the swales, cover the remaining bits of filter fabric, and move the rest of the gravel off to the side. (We'll need it over the course of the summer, to fill in thin spots.)

Thanks to Jessica Gould from WAMU for stopping by last night, too. Hopefully you'll hear a story about our project on the radio in the near future.

Here's a photo of the site last fall, before work started:

And here's what it looks like now:

Great work, everyone! Now, we just need some visitors.

Barbara Ball, of College Park's REI store, takes it all in.

They're Alive! Tree Update

I mentioned the other day that five of the trees were looking sad, but we had faith that four would bounce back from the dry weather we've been having. Good news! All five have new growth!

Two of the birches have multiple green leaves at the top, as you can sort of see in this photo.

The third, the tree we thought might be dead, has tiny buds and a few new branches coming in.

The two maples that were pretty dried out have new branches too. We're very excited to see that we can in fact grow trees in a gravel lot, during a drought.