Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice in the park, Dec. 21


Music, friendship, hot cider, and moonlight...

To see all the photos, go here

Saturday, April 30, 2011

What's happening in the Park this month

Today Peter Nause showed me around the park.  Peter--a landscape architect--has been involved with many of the recent improvements.

Heavy equipment finished repairing a stormwater pipe leading from the park.  The pipe had failed, causing a small sink hole in the street below the park.  It's an illustration of how the old stormwater solutions don't always stay solved.

The lower end of the park was the only entrance planned by the designer, Jens Jensen.  His vision of a "rose meadow" at the entrance was one of the few plantings from his plan that was actually done.

As we talked, Peter was salvaging roses removed from the berm.  Peter had planned a volunteer work party to move the roses to another part of the park.  But work on the pipe was so far ahead of schedule that the work party was canceled, and Peter was scrambling to save what roses he could.

Stormwater moves through the park in pipes.
But in case there's a big storm and surface overflow, this is where the stormwater goes back underground.

The berm has been mulched.  Later, low flowering perennials will be established here.

Other recent accomplishments

Peter received a $5000 grant from DNR to have an Urban Forestry Management Plan done.   Every tree in the park has been marked with a blue tag and has it's own assessment sheet.   There are 248 tags.
Two trees are dominant in the park--black locust and hackberry.   Jensen loved the black locust, with its lovely, fragrant flowers, and filtered light.  But his regard for the tree conflicted with his concept of using native plants--and most students of Jensen consider the tree a mistake.  The black locust is an invasive species, in contrast to our native honey locust.  So the management plan calls for the eventual removal of the non-native black locusts--about 35% of the canopy.

Some of the black locusts--like this one--have already been cut.  There's a plan to cut lumber from the tree and use the lumber in the park.

In the SE corner of the park, you can see orange flags where hackberry trees were removed.  In their place were planted 16 species of native trees and shrubs.  This is consistent with Jensen's plans for the park.  He favored native plants for their aesthetic and wildlife value.  Natives are also easier to maintain.

This work was done by grad and undergraduate students under Prof. Samuel Dennis, Jr., in the fall of 2009.  Peter brought a bobcat, and showed the students how to use it.  After the demo, they got a chance to actually operate the machine themselves.

Peter called it "A bobcat experience.  First the demo--Bobcat 101.  Then pulling out stumps--Bobcat 201.  They also learned how to use chain saws.  No one was killed, and a lot of plants got moved about."

You can see what a rich resource the park is--for the whole community.

Along the east slope of the park, white birches have been planted, along with a native chokecherry (Prunus virginiana, marked with blue ribbons).

Madison's foresters did some creative things with the stumps!

A model park
With the Jensen plan and this little park, the City sees a wonderful opportunity to try something new--to restore and manage a city park for just native species.   With only about four acres, the park is a manageable size for this experiment. 

Peter says "It's do-able--with the right resources and the City as a partner with the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association.  We're starting to plant musclewood (Carpinus caroliniana) and witch hazel.  The lower end and along Glenwood St. (on the W side) will be our first showcase."

Margaret Nelson, a retired physician at Student Health Services, works with the Neighborhood Intervention Program for kids.  Margaret Nelson came up with the idea to give kids a space of their own to care for along Glenwood St.  They removed day lilies from the edge of the park and put in a bed of native perennials. 

Plans call for extending the native perennials further up the street.  Margaret has also planted some native flowers along the sidewalk bordering Glenway Street on the other side.

Glenwood Children's Park

 Steep sides of the ravine, plus a little rocky gorge, together make a natural playground.

When small trees were removed, the trunks were saved for the children.  Some hay bales were provided... a tipi !

Like true artists-- they are constantly rearranging their handiwork.  Now the poles become the entrance to a mine!

One downside to kids running up and down is erosion.
A way will have to be found to accommodate both wild kids and wild plants.

Future work

Here's the head of the ravine, where stormwater emerges from under the SW Bikeway.  The stonework is crumbling, and needs to be redone. 

Building dry-laid stone structures--natural stone without mortar--is a lost art.  Peter is looking into the possibility of using dry-laid stone here or elsewhere in the park.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

What do you want to hear about?

I've been overwhelmed with the unexpected popularity of Glenwood Children's Park.  I've received 105 hits to this blog, within just a few days of starting it.  Not exactly viral, but still, encouraging.

Next week, I'll be taking a walk in the park with landscape architect Peter Nause.  He's going to tell me about what's going on in the park, and plans.  We're also going to discuss the possibility of fundraising for eventually carrying out, in full, Jens Jensen's plans for the park.

So email me, or post a comment below, about what you'd like to hear about in this blog, or what you'd like to happen in the park.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Storm sewer work begins below park

Storm Sewer Work began on April 14 at Cross Street & Wyota Avenue.

A new storm sewer will redirect water from the existing collection structure located in the mounded berm at the south end of the park.  Instead it will go west down Cross Street, then easterly on Wyota Ave, to existing pipes on Lewis Court.

Work is expected to begin at the Lewis Court / Wyota Ave part of the new pipe and progress toward the park.   Completion is expected on May 18th.
The following landscape improvements will occur in the park:
  • Removal of 2 large black locust trees adjacent to the existing concrete collection structure. These trees are an invasive species and were identified for removal in the 2010 Glenwood Children's Park Urban Forestry Management Plan. They shade existing ornamental Hawthorn and Crabapple, which will be protected during construction. The wood from the locust trunks will be salvaged and used for a future park projects.
  • Removal of the existing weeds and roses throughout the mounded berm area. A "Rose Meadow Salvage Work Party" will be scheduled in mid May. Cuttings from the rose plants will be propagated by Parks & Gardens Committee members and re-planted following Jens Jensen's original plan. Anyone volunteering with this rose propagation will be able to take home some of the rose plants.
DMNA Parks Committee Chair Peter Nause, and the Madison Engineering and Parks staff are developing a Landscape Plan for the south end of Glenwood Children's Park, with ornamental native perennials, ferns and grasses, in the mounded berm area where the Rose Bed currently stands.

City Engineering would prefer to have plantings adjacent to the concrete storm water collection structure that are shorter than the existing roses and easier to maintain. One design objective is to enhance & soften this man-made area so that it is more in keeping with park Jensen's naturalistic style.

Historically the south end of Glenwood Park was intended to be the main entrance. It is hoped that Madison Parks will approve an "official" Glenwood Children's Park sign as part of this project.

Source: Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association news.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Winter solstice celebration in the park

The council ring by Jens Jensen

On Sunday night from 6:00 to 10:00 pm, neighbors celebrated the solstice with a bonfire, music and poetry in Glenwood Children's Park.  The event was organized by the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association, with Peter Nause as Chair.

A glorious bonfire lit the council ring on a mound in the park.
Sparks rose to mingle with the stars, under the light of a full moon.

About half the wood was from storm-damaged trees, provided by the City of Madison Forestry Division.  Gere Tree Care helped Peter bring the wood to the council ring on a sledge.

Glenwood Childrens Park was designed by the famous landscape architect Jens Jensen, one of his last projects.  Except for the council ring, his plans were never finished, and the tiny stream was later buried in pipes.

Jensen is known for designing many parks on the west side of Chicago, and for the Garfield Park Conservatory building in Chicago.   Jensen promoted the idea of parks as place to bring people together for democratic action.  So many of them have council rings like the one at Glenwood.  His work built appreciation for natural landscapes and native plants.

Before the Europeans arrived, the park hosted a small rocky gorge with a trickle of water, lined with ferns, arched over by ancient trees.

Once looked like this?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Now it's dry and eroded

There's potential for a lovely restoration here.

Early Madisonians took blocks of sandstone from a small quarry there. Next, tracks were laid along the upstream end--now you can see the council ring from the bike trail.

Until the last few years, the park was neglected.  But it's getting more attention and use.  In recent years, it's been the location for Madison's Weed Feed (a potluck picnic) in the spring, and also a summer solstice celebration.

Neighborhood parks with community events offer a chance for neighbors to come together, get to know one another, and work together on projects. 

Lanterns thanks to Dorie Sundquist and Percy Mather.

See all the photos here.