Volunteer at Forest Hill Park

The East Cleveland Parks Association (ECPA), the volunteer organization that cares for Forest Hill Park, wishes to thank Milan Wylie for his generous donation of $1,400, designated for the removal of several oak trees. These large oaks had fallen in the Great Meadow, leaving unsightly stumps and large debris, which has made the Great Meadow difficult to mow. Although birders may bemoan the loss of the stumps for bird habitat, they should be reminded that many other stumps remain in unmanaged natural areas of the park.

The trees in the Great Meadow—primarily oaks—are some of the oldest in the park. Many may be close to 200 years old and are approaching the end of their natural life spans. They appear healthy until strong winds blow off a limb, revealing that they are often hollow inside. ECPA is encouraging the growth of replacement trees from the seedlings sprouting around the original trees. Fortunately oaks grow quickly, and one can already see significant growth of the replacements.

 This is also garlic mustard time. Garlic mustard is a spring flowering potherb brought to this country from the Old World. Although it is edible, garlic mustard is considered an invasive noxious weed because it grows so densely, blocking light for other plants. More importantly, it changes soil chemistry where it grows, making it more conducive for its own survival and less conducive for native plants. This chemical soil change destroys beneficial fungi in the soil that many native plants, including trees, need to thrive.  

For this reason, it is Garlic Mustard Pull Time in Forest Hill Park. The plant is best removed before it goes to seed. Garlic mustard seeds remain viable for several years. Each plant can produce several hundred seeds, resulting in huge colonies in only a couple years. To see what garlic mustard looks like, go to Google and type “picture of garlic mustard.” Learn more about it, and feel free to pull it when you see some in the park. Leave the remains to decompose. Look for garlic mustard along path edges in the Great Meadow and throughout the park. Or join an organized pull.

Meet at the pavilion north of the Cleveland Heights baseball field compound at 2 p.m. on any or all of the following dates: Sunday, April 1; Easter Sunday, April 8; and Sunday, April 15. After these dates the plant will have gone to seed. Please bring gloves (there is poison ivy in some areas of the park) and water to drink.

For more information about volunteer opportunities in the park, either as an individual or as an organization, call 216-956-5533 or e-mail elsanVic@gmail.com. Tax deductible donations are gratefully accepted. You may designate your gift for tree removal or the Fund a Frond campaign to purchase and restore native plants to Forest Hill Park.

Elsa Johnson

Elsa Johnson is an environmental designer, artist and writer.

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Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 12:25 PM, 03.20.2012