Dec 232015
 
Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, wildlife habitat workshop, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, redwood, buried tree burl, juncus, juncus patens, Artemisia douglasiana , mugwort, seed collecting,  Big Splash Spa and Resort, Compost Cricket Corral, Wood Chip Pile, berm, swale, Amphibian Amphitheatre, Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow, Science Station Shelf, rain gauge, leymus triticoides, creeping wild rye, mud, western blue bird, (Sialia mexicana), irrigation flags, pond overflow, straw mulch

Sure beats sitting in a schoolroom desk!Amphibian Amphitheatre Ravine is a wildlife habitat landscaping project, an “installation”, that capitalizes on available moisture, on capturing pond overflow.  This installation is another Outdoor Classroom monthly session with Orchard View School (Sebastopol, California) students and their teacher, Sunny Galbraith. Date completed: December 17, 2015.

The Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation operates the Laguna Environmental Center, or LEC, on Stone Farm, at 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, California, 95401. This wildlife habitat installation is in an open grassy area behind Heron Hall and east of the pond, down slope from Science Station Shelf.

Prep (before students)

The BeforeThe Before.  West view of Amphibian Amphitheatre (AA), a swatch of slope outlined by a down-slope berm.  Amphibian Amphitheatre will contain many wildlife habitat installations.  One installation, Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow, installed last month, creates the north boundary of Amphibian Amphitheatre.   Weeds had thrived in the shallow bowl of a slope, which is being kept moist by the pond overflow, and perhaps pond water weeping through the berm surrounding the pond.  Those weeds and topsoil were scraped to create the down-slope berm of the Amphitheatre; since then, weeds are poking through the berm soil and mulch of dead weeds.  Installing a new wildlife habitat, Amphibian Amphitheatre Ravine, will 1) provide a means to collect water in this already moist meadow, and 2) kill back weeds so that starts of native plants will thrive until established.

got weeds?Weeds poking out of the berm down slope of Amphibian Amphitheatre (left).

weeds in the center of AAAnd more weeds in the center of Amphibian Amphitheatre.  Straw mulch will be added on top of these weeds to kill them back.

irrigation flags for Don't-Walk-Here outlineIrrigation flags outline where students can walk, or not.  The north west corner of Amphibian Amphitheatre is off limits — we do not want to disturb last month’s work — a patch of juncus plants and Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow.

saving straw for mulchStraw mulch is scrapped away to reuse as mulch, that is, to remulch the area once the Ravine is dug and filled with wood.  A hay fork was easy to use because it did not mix soil into the straw.

using hay fork to dig wet adobe soilUsing a hay fork to dig wet adobe soil.  SOMETHING LEARNED! — I discovered how much easier digging the clinging, heavy adobe mud was with a fork instead of a shovel.  When tossing a fork-load, the mud flew off the fork.  So much easier than having to knock or pull mud off of a shovel.

topsoil thrown onto the bermInch by inch, slowly the hole crept (got deeper).  Note the clean (little-soil) piles of straw (top of photo) and the berm’s fresh topsoil ridge.

time to clock out!Progress for the work day.   Note how high the berm is and the sun in the deep hole.  Tomorrow, perhaps a little more digging, then the students will backfill the hole with wood and soil from the berm.

collecting juncus californiansTomorrow is here!  Today is Amphibian Amphitheatre Ravine’s installation day.  First job — collecting juncus patens from my (Tony’s) barrel ponds for transplant into the installation.  Of all the tools shown in the photo, I wound up using only the bow saw.

exposing juncus patens rootsBy the hair!  Holding up enough plants to lift the root mass out of the water with one hand, while cutting through the root mass with the bow saw with the other hand.

using collected rainwater to transport juncusA bundle of juncus awaits transport to the LEC.  Collected rainwater was used to keep the pond juncus thriving till transplanting.

Spore Lore delivers!Juncus bunches ready for Amphibian Amphitheatre Ravine.  Note the buckets full of water to ensure the roots are not exposed to the air.

Installation Day -- Who brought the mud?!Installation Day, and we are starting with puddles of water in mud.  Yuck!  But such is exactly why we have chosen this sight as an amphibian wildlife habitat — available water.  There was no rain last night at the LEC (CoCoRaHS says so for 12-16-2015, at rain gauge station Santa Rosa 6.7 WSW).  This precious water either seeped through the Pond berm or collected from morning moisture draining down slope.  Either way, the amphibians will love it, and breathe easier.

prep day 2's startThe start of prep day 2, view from over the berm (foreground).

woodchips define the bermWoodchips dumped along the berm will 1) create a thick mulch to inhibit weeds along the berm’s edge, and 2) give the students a relative height when they skim off the top of the berm into the Ravine.

dig dig dig dig dig!Deeper goes the Ravine.  1) Note how the hay fork (left) is in the deepest area of the Ravine.  Digging was slow — the heavy wet clay was hard to get to.  Therefore, a concentrated hole (versus the entire length of the berm)  about 3 feet X 3 feet was dug as deep as possible.  “Possible” was limited by the length of the hay fork and my not falling in the hole.  Original vision: the entire length of the berm would be very deep.  Reality: the 9 square foot hole attained a good depth, that is,  deep enough for the students to anchor a bird perch in.  2) Note how high the berm is; much more soil than we want to be left on the finished, wannabe-natural-looking berm.  Because the students will have little time to back fill the Ravine, keeping the dug-out soil close at hand will facilitate replacing that soil.  3) Note the higher, larger mud/soil pile to the right of the berm with the hay fork at its peak.  The second hay fork was used to slam the digging hay fork into.  Even on the hay fork, the wet mud from the deepest area of the Ravine wanted to stick to the fork; slamming one fork against the other helped clear the digging fork.  4) The large end pile of mud/soil has a 2-fold stategy — a) a depository for excess soil to be thrown back into the hole IF more soil is needed, or b) a landscaped hill, higher and wider than the berm, if the soil is not needed/used.  A win-win pile of mud!  5) Tools, a tree limb, landscaping boulders, and a vent pipe await the students to arrive.

straw to walk on and hold soil/mud pile togetherStraw to walk on lines the Ravine “steps” and holds the soil/mud pile together.

Thanks farmer Stu!Here come the woodchips, to be dumped on the side lines, ready for the students to mulch the Ravine.  Note that more mud was tossed on the large end-cap soil pile, on top of the straw layer.  Digging is now complete, done, finished!

Students at work

treasure to be uncoveredThe LEC’s Woodchip Pile Annex — habitat installation logs, limbs, stumps, and rocks have been stored in the woodchips to promote soil-friendly resources.   The Orchard View students have arrived and pull from the pile to fill Amphibian Amphitheatre Ravine with wood and rock.

what goes where? Students determine how the Ravine’s floor is filled with wood logs and stumps, a collaborative effort.

filling the Ravine with water-loving woodBring on the wood!   More homes for critters and more water-wicks for plants.  Note the Bird Perch climbing up the berm to the left; it is deeply anchored in the bottom of the Ravine.  Critters will seek its water wicking wood, deep in the cool cool clay.

securing the Bird PerchSecuring Bird Perch.

adding puzzle piecesFine tuning.

log slideUsing Bird Perch to slide a large log in place.

Outdoor Classrooms rock!Large stumps in Ravine will soak up water and slowly wick it between morning fogs and seasonal rain.

Special delivery!Redwood Burl Basin arrives.  The dense redwood root burl has a shallow bowl, perfect for trapping water.

4" plastic drainpipe for ventTony pulls the vent pipe, a section of plastic 4″ corrugated drainpipe, into service.

got mud?The bottom of the hole, at the base of Bird Perch, is vented up to the base of the berm, using the black plastic 4″ drainpipe.  Nice muddy boot!

fill -- 50% soil, 50% woodchipAll wood logs, limbs, and stumps are in Ravine.  Time to back fill — equal parts soil and woodchip.  Note 3 students working skimming off the top of the berm soil.  2 students adding woodchips.  1 student leveling off the large soil pile.

getting there!Fill, fill, fill.  There will be plenty of nooks and crannies for critters under the fill.

planting partnersDressing up Amphibian Amphitheatre Ravine with plants — pick a partner!  FRONT LEFT — water-loving juncus between logs and below the berm.  Juncus can be periodically flooded; therefore, it is classified as a semi-emergent species.  RIGHT — wild creeping rye (leymus triticoides) on the berm.  BACK LEFT — more mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana) is planted along Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow. 


fieldstone boulders grouped around Redwood Burl BasinNot only does this student have five fingers on his left hand, but also Sonoma fieldstone boulders have been grouped around Redwood Burl Basin, which covers the vent pipe.

planting juncus patensDripping wet juncus is planted deep.  In foreground, a line of rye plants are ready for planting.

more plants

sculpting the soil pile to the berm's heightThe large soil pile at the end of the berm has been used to fill in Ravine; the berm and pile are level.

woodchip mulching and cleanupWoodchip mulching around the new plantings AND cleanup.  Amphibian Amphitheatre Ravine wildlife habitat installation is in!

west viewWest view, looking out to the Pond Bridge and Observation Platform.

east viewEast view.

there's wood buried here!West view, close-up.

Look, over there!Nice job, Orchard View!  Orchard View students and teacher Sunny Galbraith scan the Laguna Environmental Center — where will next month’s wildlife habitat installation be?

Final Touches (after students)

western blue bird on Bird PerchAn hour after the students left, I caught this blue bird on Bird Perch as the sun set.

happiness is . . .And the blue bird said, “Habitat it!”

Amphibian Amphitheatre Ravine collects waterJust a few days after installation, Amphibian Amphitheatre Ravine collects rainwater.  Note the pooled water up against the juncus-planted berm.  Water also pools on the other side of the berm, showing how low this area is.

Frog Pond News, December 21, 2015: "New Home Construction Highest Since Cows Left"Close-up of Amphibian Amphitheatre Ravine Lake.  Happy plants, happy soaking logs and stumps!

Much appreciation to the Laguna Foundation’s Restoration and Conservation Science Program staff Wendy Trowbridge (Director), Brent Reed (Manager), Aaron Nunez (Tech II), and Paul Weber (Tech).  And thank you, the Laguna Foundation staff in general, for welcoming and nurturing this Outdoor Classroom over the years.

Thank you farmer Stuart Schroeder of Stone Farm for the tractor work.

Enjoy your outdoor classrooms and wildlife habitat gardening.

Tony

 

 

 

 

Nov 242015
 
Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, wildlife habitat workshop, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, Cyperus eragrostis, Nutsedge, Umbrella Sedge, Salamander French Drain, redwood, buried tree slab, juncus, juncus patens, Artemisia douglasiana , mugwort, seed collecting,  Big Splash Spa and Resort, Compost Cricket Corral, Wood Chip Pile, Log Pile Apartments, Dirt Road Creek Swale, swale, Amphibian Amphitheatre, Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow, Science Station Shelf, thermometer, rain gauge

Laguna Environmental Center -- home of the Laguna FoundationScience Station Shelf, in the foreground with its rain gauge ready to be read, was one of two wildlife habitat installations to be installed during November’s outdoor classroom Biology class at the Laguna Environmental Center.  The Biology students from Orchard View School and teacher Sunny Galbraith also installed Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow, at the edge of the straw mulch, in the background.  Date of installations: November 12, 2015.

The Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation operates the Laguna Environmental Center, or LEC, on Stone Farm, at 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, California, 95401. These wildlife habitat installations are in an open grassy area behind Heron Hall and east of the pond.

Prep (before students)

redwood slab for Science Station ShelfObjective Number One: Install a rain gauge.  Use a large slab of wood to support the rain gauge post AND provide an underground shelter for critters.  Project: Science Station Shelf.

Wendy Trowbridge, Director of the Restoration and Science Programs, wanted a rain gauge to be installed behind Heron Hall in an easily accessible place to be read daily.  The rain gauge manufacturer, Productive Systems, gives specific instructions how to install the gauge.  To start, the rain gauge is to be mounted on a post 20 inches above ground level AND the post is to have a 45-degree angle cut at the the top — the surface angle reduces raindrop splashback.  No splashbacks!  The slab of redwood pictured above will support the post while being buried in the shallow slope of soil behind Heron Hall.  Critters will find their way under and use the “shelf” in the soil as shelter.  Also, the wood slab will wick moisture long after the topsoil is dry.  Habitat it!  Note the square-like hole in the wood knothole — perfect for a post!

rain gauge post being installed in Scince Station ShelfThe original square-like hole in the redwood driftwood is fine tuned to accept the rain gauge post.  Scrap metal is fashioned into a bracket to secure the post’s height through the post hole.  We want the post tip 20″ above the ground + 3″ for soil/mulch to cover the wood base = 23″ of post length through the wood slab base.

Objective Number Two: Replace a thriving weed bog with a planting of native sedge and rushes.  Also, install a swale/berm that will collect water for the plantings.  AND, partially bury a hollow log in the swale to provide moist habitat for amphibians and other animals.  Project: Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow.

north west view from Heron HallAs can be seen from behind Heron Hall, most of the terrain is dry this time of year.  The wet/green areas are irrigated, like around the pond (left) and behind the back wire link fence.  Cow pasture is beyond the back (north) fence.  The area we are concerned about for the wildlife habitat installation, Amphibian Amphitheatre, is the rich, thriving weedy area behind the picnic table (in the above photo).  The moisture is most likely seepage from the  pond to the west — water working its way through the soil berm that makes up the bank of the pond.  This habitat installation will capitalize on that moisture.

Hey, come pull some weeds!Plants are thriving here.  Too bad for us they are classified as weeds — undesirable plants.  They will be replaced to make way for native plants to encourage native wildlife.  Too many to pull!  So, instead, the McCloud tool, (on wheelbarrow, will rake them to the side.  The bulk of the greens/roots, and loose soil will be used to shape a swale on the downhill side of the gently sloping terrain.  Sounds easier to do than to actually drag the McCloud and rip out the weeds!

Amphibian Amphitheatre taking shape Many weeds have been scraped from the belly of Amphibian Amphitheatre.  Note the berms of built up weeds and soil to the east and north.  Also note the rock pile on the western edge of the shallow bowl — that is the pond outlet (overflow pipe outlet) .  The rock pile hides the 4-inch PVC pipe that allows the pond to overflow if the pond level gets to a certain height (the height of the pond outlet flow pipe at the pond’s edge).  So, in a high-volume rain, this low area will receive not only rainwater from the sky and rainwater flowing down the slope of soil, but also rainwater from the pond’s overflow pipe.  That is a lot of water!

a long dayIt’s been a long day!  Amphibian Amphitheatre is nearly scraped and shaped.  The topsoil was generously scraped to more easily remove weeds and to also bulk up the berm that will surround the low area and help catch water flowing on the gentle hillside.

And let the fun beginBales of straw were tossed off of Stuart Schroeder’s hay wagon into Amphibian Amphitheatre.  Broken up, and mulched, the loose straw will keep weeds at bay until the intended native plants can get a foothold.  Also, the straw will wick moisture to the seedling native plants.  Time will transform the straw into nutrients for the new native plants.

straw mulch buys time while native plants estable themselvesStraw used to smoother out long-established weeds.

Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, wildlife habitat workshop, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, Cyperus eragrostis, Nutsedge, Umbrella Sedge, Salamander French Drain, redwood, buried tree slab, juncus, juncus patens, Artemisia douglasiana , mugwort, seed collecting,  Big Splash Spa and Resort, Compost Cricket Corral, Wood Chip Pile, Log Pile Apartments, Dirt Road Creek Swale, swale, Amphibian Amphitheatre, Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow, Science Station Shelf, thermometer, rain gauge“The Swimming Pool” — A thin layer of straw mulch interior AND a curvy thick edge on the downhill slope, made of straw “blocks”, against the weed/scraped soil berm.  We kept the straw and the berm next to each other to smother out weds BUT did not mix the two material edges.  We want as much of the soil on hand in the berm to receive either native plant starts or seeds.

downhill berm of soil LEFT will moisturize the native plantings in the thick straw mulch RIGHT The downslope berm of Amphibian Amphitheatre designed to flow with the gradient of the slope. The objective in the curvy edge is to simulate the slope’s high-water mark where flood debris would have created a berm over the years.  Ultimately, the berm’s exact location will become hidden under a field of native sedges, rushes, grasses, and flowers.  Till then, we pull weeds!

20151112-LF-AAH--4-800Northern, downhill, side of Amphibian Amphitheatre.  Note the mix of weeds and soil in the berm and the homogenous, straw-only mulch layer.  Time will tell how effective the mat of straw is to thwart weeds that where established, yet scraped into the berm.  No chemicals used for all those weeds removed is a great plus.  Poor native plant germination (from seed), high mortality rate of native plant transplants, and excessive maintenance will offset the enlightened non-use of chemicals — EVERYTHING has its costs.  But rarely do critters get to weigh in — and my critter friends tell me that they would rather start with no chemicals.

20151112-Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, wildlife habitat workshop, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, Cyperus eragrostis, Nutsedge, Umbrella Sedge, Salamander French Drain, redwood, buried tree slab, juncus, juncus patens, Artemisia douglasiana , mugwort, seed collecting,  Big Splash Spa and Resort, Compost Cricket Corral, Wood Chip Pile, Log Pile Apartments, Dirt Road Creek Swale, swale, Amphibian Amphitheatre, Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow, Science Station Shelf, thermometer, rain gaugeLF-AAH--2-800The straw has sat on Amphibian Amphitheatre for one week, a rain has come and gone, Wendy Trowbridge has marked, via red flag, the position of Science Station Shelf.  Systems are go!

Wood Chip Pile Innoculation Center
Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow has been stored under the woodchip pile (center, back) beyond Garter Snake Ravine ( left) and Log Pile Apartments (far left).  The hollowed-out log has been dutifully awaiting transfer papers into a wildlife habitat installation.  Today is its lucky day! Storing such wildlife habitat installation materials in an active, fungal spore-rich medium, like wood chips, increases the chances that a living log will be delivered to the wildlife habitat.  Why not start with ALIVE?!

Students at work

Science Station Shelf

a sledge a day keeps the doctor awayA student arrives in time to sledge hammer an angle bracket in place.  The discarded shelving hardware is perfect to secure the rain gauge post to the redwood slab of wood.  Sure beats sittin’ around the class!

measuring depth to bury wood slabUsing post hole diggers to determine ground level, we measure how far to dig Science Station Shelf into the ground.  The top of the post must be 20″ above the restored woodchip-covered ground.

Did you hear it, too?The crew stops to listen for birds.  Was that a Black Crowned Night Heron on its way back to the Laguna?

Measuring height of rain gauge.Measuring height of the top of the installed rain gauge.  Perfect!  Let the rain come.

Burying Science Station ShelfTime to bury Science Station Shelf with returning topsoil, new and old woodchips.  Note how the new resource, the woodchips on the tarp in the foreground, will be used directly over the wood shelf.  The tarp will keep the new-look of the chips from disturbing the immediate area.

add waterA good mud pile of the site ensures that the wood shelf will be “cemented” in place.  Normally, best not to make mud, and drive oxygen out of the soil, but this shelf must be solid — scientists will be collecting rain gauge data daily.  We want to ensure that they have sure footing on the shelf AND we do not want the rain gauge post to move at all.  Mud is the answer!

 Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow

pulling back the straw mulchPulling back the straw mulch from the inside of the berm to give us plenty of room to work.  We want to get down to the soil to trench in a ten-foot hollow log, partially buried.  Sedge and rush plants will grow alongside the water-wicking log and critters will have a long wood Quonset hut for shelter, for habitat.

Outdoor Classrooms rock!The tree trunk section has been dropped into position for placement alongside the berm, and now rests alongside while habitat landscapers dig the trench that the wood will rest in.  Shovelful by shovelful, the wildlife habitat comes into being.  Note the woodchips on-hand; they will be used to dress the mugwort and sedge plantings.  Note how the berm curves in the distance.

Have we dug enough?Decision time — have we dug enough?  Will the wood log sit snuggly in the berm?  Is there a welcoming entrance to the log’s hollow?  Does the log look good in the hole?  All answers = maybe!  Note the displaced soil from the trench — a beautiful new resource to have for the plantings.

Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, wildlife habitat workshop, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, Cyperus eragrostis, Nutsedge, Umbrella Sedge, Salamander French Drain, redwood, buried tree slab, juncus, juncus patens, Artemisia douglasiana , mugwort, seed collecting,  Big Splash Spa and Resort, Compost Cricket Corral, Wood Chip Pile, Log Pile Apartments, Dirt Road Creek Swale, swale, Amphibian Amphitheatre, Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow, Science Station Shelf, thermometer, rain gaugeYay, we are done digging.  Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow is in place.

muddng in The HollowMudding in The Hollow.  Students stand on the log to sink it into the mud cast being made for it.  Easy work, if you can get it.

shaping the log into the bermShaping soil alongside the log and grading the berm.

planting nutsedge and mugwortPlanting umbrella sedge (Cyperus eragrostis) starts from one of the Nursery trays; the flat of sedge starts is sitting on top of the partially buried Hollow log.  The sedge will grow together tightly, providing a thick cover for critters.  Also, 2 clumps (of 5 plants each) of mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana, were planted on the berm (foreground and left in photo).  Critters will enjoy the mugwort seeds and the plants’ insectary nature will help keep the LEC buzzin’.  How wonderful that the Laguna Foundation grew these plants on site in the Native Plant Nursery!

planting juncus patensA student prepares to plant out a flat of juncus patens, or California grey rush.  Juncus, like the nutsedge, can be periodically flooded; therefore, both plants are classified as semi-emergent species.

planting nutsedge and juncusEveryone has a job — the plants go in quickly.

Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, wildlife habitat workshop, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, Cyperus eragrostis, Nutsedge, Umbrella Sedge, Salamander French Drain, redwood, buried tree slab, juncus, juncus patens, Artemisia douglasiana , mugwort, seed collecting,  Big Splash Spa and Resort, Compost Cricket Corral, Wood Chip Pile, Log Pile Apartments, Dirt Road Creek Swale, swale, Amphibian Amphitheatre, Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow, Science Station Shelf, thermometer, rain gaugeAmphibian Amphitheater Hollow gets watered in.  Note the flare, a remnant from the tree trunk’s crown section, in the foreground.

watering the completed wildlife habitatHappy watered wildlife habitat.

OPEN OPEN OPEN  [flashing sign, Main Street, Critterville]Close-up of The Hollow’s above ground entrance.  All critters welcomed!  This “subway” tunnel ends at, is a way to get to, the buried, cool, damp, night-dark soil of the berm.  “Thanks for stopping by.  What’s for lunch?  Oh, you ARE lunch!” [Hungry Snake].

berm (left) -- Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow (center) -- Amphibian Amphitheatre (right)Berm (left) — Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow (center) — Amphibian Amphitheatre (right).  Note the small rise/hill to the berm.  Water draining downslope (from the right) or filling Amphibian Amphitheatre (from the pond overflow pipe) will pool at the base of the log up against the berm.  Also note that the mugwort is given a dryer soil height than the sedge, which thrives from periodic submergence.  [3 years future, during a heavy flooding rain]: A great blue heron walks the log looking for critters flooded out from under Amphibian Amphitheatre’s meadow.

juncus patens (foreground); nutsedge (surrounding The Hollow); mugwort (in berm, ends of The Hollow)Habitat landscapers were here!  Juncus patens (foreground), nutsedge (surrounding The Hollow), and mugwort (in berm, ends of The Hollow).  Note how heavily the bunching of juncus was mulched with woodchip and surrounding straw.  While the 2-3 years that the woodchips break down, the juncus will have gained a head start on competitor weeds.  Also, the mulch will gather and wick moisture to the juncus transplants to bridge dry spells.  The sedge and mugwort plants are equally heavily mulched.

Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, wildlife habitat workshop, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, Cyperus eragrostis, Nutsedge, Umbrella Sedge, Salamander French Drain, redwood, buried tree slab, juncus, juncus patens, Artemisia douglasiana , mugwort, seed collecting,  Big Splash Spa and Resort, Compost Cricket Corral, Wood Chip Pile, Log Pile Apartments, Dirt Road Creek Swale, swale, Amphibian Amphitheatre, Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow, Science Station Shelf, thermometer, rain gaugeDone!  2 wildlife habitats installed AND the Laguna Environmental Center has a new rain gauge and outdoor thermometer.  Nice job!, Sunny and your students, and long-time habitat landscaper helper, and me, Tony McGuigan.

Final Touches (after students)

Science Station Shelf

rain gauge data entered here dailyWendy Trowbridge provided this link — the gathering place for daily country-wide rain gauge stations, which the LEC is now one of.  The floating text/data box explains the blue dot — the daily data of the LEC’s station (Santa Rosa 6.7 WSW).  November 24, 2015’s dot is blue because the Laguna Foundation’s Rain-Data-Scientist-of-the-Day (anonymity granted!) recorded 0.08 inches of rain that day.  Rain!  Glorious rain giving the LEC a good soak.

Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, wildlife habitat workshop, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, Cyperus eragrostis, Nutsedge, Umbrella Sedge, Salamander French Drain, redwood, buried tree slab, juncus, juncus patens, Artemisia douglasiana , mugwort, seed collecting,  Big Splash Spa and Resort, Compost Cricket Corral, Wood Chip Pile, Log Pile Apartments, Dirt Road Creek Swale, swale, Amphibian Amphitheatre, Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow, Science Station Shelf, thermometer, rain gaugeOpening the link “Go to report details” in the map (previous photo).

At the Habitat Garden

gulf fritillary in Compost Cricket CorralA gulf fritillary in Compost Cricket Corral.

20151029-CTony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, wildlife habitat workshop, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, Cyperus eragrostis, Nutsedge, Umbrella Sedge, Salamander French Drain, redwood, buried tree slab, juncus, juncus patens, Artemisia douglasiana , mugwort, seed collecting,  Big Splash Spa and Resort, Compost Cricket Corral, Wood Chip Pile, Log Pile Apartments, Dirt Road Creek Swale, swale, Amphibian Amphitheatre, Amphibian Amphitheatre Hollow, Science Station Shelf, thermometer, rain gaugeCC-Gulf-fritillary,Agraulis-vanillae,cr-s-800Close-up of gulf fritillary butterfly in Compost Cricket Corral habitat.

western fence lizard in Salamander French Drain habitatA western fence lizard peeks out of the sitting bench in Salamander French Drain habitat.

Got your tail!Close-up of the lizard that was under the sitting bench.  Note the contour and holes that insects carved into the wood of Salamander French Drain’s retaining wall.  The wood surface itself is habitat for tiny critters, some of which might be prey of the lizards.  Also note the blunt tail of the lizard — this lizard escaped a predator, leaving the predator with the broken off and wiggling tail section.  The “tail drop” is called caudal autonomy.  Lost a tail but granted another life!

Much appreciation to the Laguna Foundation, especially Restoration and Conservation Science Department staff Wendy Trowbridge (Director), Brent Reed (Manager), Aaron Nunez (Tech II), and Paul Weber (Tech).  And thank you, Estrella Phegan, Nursery Manager, for sharing the space.

Enjoy your outdoor classrooms and wildlife habitat gardening.

Tony

Aug 022015
 
Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, wildlife habitat workshop, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, Stuart Schroeder, mulch, wood chips, adobe soil, Santa Barbara sedge, Carex barbarae, field sedge, Carex praegegracillus, juncus, Juncus patens, California gray rush, Sonoma fieldstone, Shady Oak Root Of It All, Big Splash Hotel and Spa, oak tree, quercus lobata, valley oak, mycorrhizae, mycorrhizae, mycorrhizal association

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgLet the games begin!  And the players for last month’s workshop (July 12th) at the Laguna Environmental Center are a 600 pound Sonoma fieldstone boulder (left) and an oak rootball with stump (right).  Both the boulder and the rootball will become the main feature of their own wildlife habitat installation.  Stuart Schroeder of Stone Farm helped me (Tony McGuigan) place both the boulder and the rootball near the proposed habitat sites — nice to have a tractor do some of the work!

Early Morning at the Laguna Environmental Center

Here are some photos of the wonderful start to the day while preparing for the workshop to begin:

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgA western pond turtle keeps a wary eye from Turtle Pond Float.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgA blue heron watches,

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgthen flies over the pond.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgA Western Fence Lizard peeks from under the Sonoma fieldstone boulder we will soon move.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgClose-up of the lizard.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgTools at the ready.  From left: pruners, digging bars, roofing tile puller, shovels, soil chisels, hoes.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgAnd some of the materials we will be working with.  Valley oak trees, deer tree tubes, Sonoma fieldstone boulders with water-holding cavities, driftwood, and wood stumps.

The workshop started with a discussion in Heron Hall regarding wildlife habitats for residential settings.  Pastry, coffee, and tea make planning the day so much more fun!  On hand for the habitat landscaping was one Laguna Foundation intern, two Laguna Foundation Guides, four participants, and me, a Laguna Foundation Docent, as instructor.

Big Splash Hotel and Spa

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgBehind the Foundation’s Nursery is a compost area, which itself is a rich animal habitat, as is any thriving compost.  The Nursery manager recently asked all working at the Nursery to hang up the garden hose when finished; she wants to prevent contamination of the water left in the hose.  The hose has been hung up, sometimes here, sometimes there.  “Big Splash” wildlife habitat installation is about getting the hose hung up in mostly one place — the dripping water from the hose will provide water to the critters living under and around the large water-catching landscape boulders.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgThe Before.  Big Splash will be directly under the hose hanging from Compost Cricket Corral’s southwest post.  Moooo!  Note the nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus L.), front left; it will be saved because of its native status.  The surrounding weeds (non-native plants) will be removed to allow native plants to thrive around the habitat.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgA hole is dug alongside the compost post.  The soil is set aside in buckets for later use — this rich topsoil will be used to establish new Santa Barbara sedge and field sedge plants surrounding Big Splash.  The large V-shaped boulder on its side (left) is blocked (to prevent movement) on a pallet next to the hole.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgMelon (cantaloupe and honey dew)-sized fieldstone rocks are carefully positioned in the hole to maximize their water-holding surfaces.  Some rocks have one or two thimble-sized cavities; other rocks present a smear of small holes that will hold water.  The rocks, in total, will provide moist cavities for critters to gather water from.  Other animals will prey upon those seeking the water.  A habitat is born!

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgUsing water to determine a rock’s most-water-holding position.  The rock will be placed on the lower rocks so that the “lake” is most full.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgA foundation of water-holding fieldstone awaits the large V-shaped fieldstone boulder, which will sit on top.  The view is from inside the compost, looking toward the Nursery’s concrete slab.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgThe large boulder is leveled to test its best water-holding position.  St. Mary’s River flows out of Lake Superior — think very small critter!

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgLots of push and pull to get the 600 hundred pound boulder “level” so that it will hold water.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgAnd take a breath — the fieldstone boulder is in place.  The top boulder is placed to receive the hose drip.  Once Boulder Lake (think like a microbe or tiny birdbath critter) is filled, the moistness/wetness/water will drip down the side of the large fieldstone boulder to smaller, also water-holding, rocks.  There are about a dozen such rocks under Boulder Lake.  Soil, plants, mosses, lichens, and critters will call this pyramid of cavities, nutrition, and water “Home”.  In other words, 3 of 4 ingredients of habitat have been met: shelter, food, and water.  Because some critters will stay local to, if not live in, the moist pile of rocks, those critters will reproduce near or in the habitat installation.  Number 4 ingredient, “a place to raise young”, has been met.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgSanta Barbara sedge (Carex barbarae) and field sedge (Carex praegegracillus) are planted among the rocks.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgWoodchip mulch is added to suppress weeds and give moisture to the establishing sedges.  The woodchip mulch will break down, leaving rich organic material, enriching the new sedge planting.  Soon a white net of mycorrhizae will spread throughout the decomposing woodchips, thereby benefitting the sedges.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgThe hose is temporarily positioned using driftwood; we are looking for the hose position that will target the hose drip into the center of the boulder to create Boulder Lake.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgA good watering to jumpstart Big Splash Hotel and Spa wildlife habitat.  Soon the sedge plants will surround and shelter the base of the large boulder, providing food and shelter to small critters.  Larger animals will return to the watering hole.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgBig Splash Hotel and Spa is finished.  One habitat down, one to go for the workshop session.

Shady Oak Root Of It All — Prep before the workshop

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.org Site where rootball was harvested.  The rootball is nearly camouflaged; look between the digging bars.  The oak tree rootball, that is destined to become the focal point of a wildlife habitat installation, is covered in adobe soil, adding to its very heavy weight.    This logger’s garbage is a treasure to us habitat landscapers.  For him, the soil between the roots would ruin the chainsaw blade.  But as a habitat feature, the soil will diversify the habitat’s materials.  Most excess soil will be removed from the rootball just to get it in the back of the truck.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgOak Rootball arrives at the Laguna Foundation in April 2015.  Because the project slated for the rootball is three months away, a corral of logs was made around the rootball.  The logs will help hold the tall mound of woodchips about to cover it.  The rootball will sit in moist woodchips for three months before being installed in a wildlife habitat.  Since the rough plan is to bury the rootball in a new habitat (3 months from now), it will also be buried now — any Life in the soil-impregnated rootball will be welcome in the new habitat.  The dead rootball will be delivered to the habitat ALIVE!

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgA log is attached to the chain tether.  The rootball is nearly buried in woodchips.  Come July, in three months, Stuart’s tractor will haul out the stump by the chain — sure beats digging out the rootball!

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgThe Before.  The Laguna Foundation’s Observation Platform ramp rises from a small hill above the cow pasture (left) and straw field (foreground).  We will take advantage of the small hill’s slope to dig in the rootball, but we must be careful not to undermine the ramp’s supports built into the hill.  The habitat’s valley oak (Quercus lobata) seedlings will be planted to allow tractor travel along the fence.  Also, the trees will be planted a safe distance from the ramp to not encroach upon it.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgDigging goes easier than expected.  Actually it’s a problem — the earth is a mix of gravel and soil fill from the pond grading.  We move the hole for the rootball further downslope to avoid undermining the ramp’s concrete supports.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgTime for the rootball — up and out of the woodchip pile it comes.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgAnd I get to ride.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgThe plan is to lay the rootball downhill to simulate a fallen tree.  The milled (man-made cut) at the crown will be buried to help create a natural look.  Note the straw bales; they were used to keep the loose slope from eroding the few days the hole was exposed before the workshop.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgIn goes the rootball.  Note how the roots extend above the surrounding ground and that the stump cut is down in the hole.  Also note the white patches on the rootball/stump crown — fungi was thriving on the rootball while it was buried in the woodchips.  Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgClose-up of fungi growing on the oak rootball.

Shady Oak Root Of It All — Installation (Workshop) Day

 

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgThe rootball is tipped to lower the stump end below the level of the surrounding soil.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgThe rootball and other wood hulks are positioned half in, half out of the hole.  Fill, fill, fill. Because so much wood is in the hole, there will be extra soil to mound above the hole, on top of the wood.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgSoil engulfs the rootball.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgA critter perch is laid in the hole to the right of the rootball.  It will be mostly buried so that only a 4-foot length sticks out of the hill when the habitat is finished.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgOther wood chunks are thrown into the hole to provide more cavities for wood-loving critters AND to displace soil.  By filling the hole with other than original soil, we will be able to mound the soil higher, or perhaps make a berm of soil where there had not been one.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgIn go small oak branches and twigs, broken up by stepping on them.  We want to create moisture retention and fungi spawning for the valley oak seedlings.  Layers of organic matter (oak rootball/oak branches/oak woodchip mulch) will attempt to humbly simulate oak tree savanah soil, which is layered by decades, if not centuries, of decaying oak wood.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgTopsoil from the hole, which was set aside in large bins, is used to fill over the poorer quality soil and the oak branches.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgHere comes the first valley oak seedling.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgToday I plant a mighty oak tree.  Valley Oak (Quercus lobata) may live up to 600 years old.  The Observation Platform might need a paint job by then!

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgThe oak trees are in,

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.organd covered with plastic tubes that will allow light in but keep deer from eating the young trees.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgOak woodchip mulch is spread around the trees.

Become a Guide or Docent of the Laguna Foundation – See lagunafoundation.orgThe trees are watered as a final step to the completed wildlife habitat installation.  Note the Medusa-like tangle of roots emerging from the ground.  What is going on there?  What critters will seek habitat there?  Questions, questions.  Keep asking!

Final Report

The workshop was a success.  Thank you to  the LF Guides, Marcia and Barbara, the workshop participants, and intern Sasha — we installed 2 wildlife habitats and nobody got hurt.

Thank you’s to the Laguna Foundation staff for your support of my work at the LEC.  In particular, to Wendy Trowbridge and Brent Reed of the Conservation and Restoration Department and to Anita Smith, Public Education Coordinator, for her work in promoting my July 11th presentation and this workshop.

A big thank you to Tractor Man — Stuart Schroeder.

Enjoy your wildlife habitat creations.  Habitat it!

Tony

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 092015
 
Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, , Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, mulch, wood chips, adobe soil, Santa Barbara sedge, Carex barbarae, field sedge (Carex praegegracillus), juncus, Juncus patens, California gray rush, fieldstone, Shady Oak Seat, pond algae, oak, oak tree, Quercus lobata

Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, , Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, mulch, wood chips, adobe soil, Santa Barbara sedge, Carex barbarae, field sedge (Carex praegegracillus), juncus, Juncus patens, California gray rush, fieldstone, Shady Oak Seat, pond algae, oak, oak tree, Quercus lobataGetting ready for this Sunday’s workshop — Tony’s truck bed load of fieldstone.  The fieldstone will be used to create habitat installations during the workshop.  Hands on!

Some of the fieldstone (above photo) has a lot of holes on its surface.  Those stones will be useful in Cricket Corral Splash, Sunday’s habitat installation that will utilize the Laguna Environmental Center’s garden hose drip at the Native Plant Nursery.  Every hose must eventually be shut off (very old saying), so when the Nursery’s hose is closed down, the drip will be caught by layers of pourous and water-holding fieldstone.  A new Water Park for Cricket Corral Compost‘s critters!  Critters will come from far and wide (from the compost and surrounding habitat) for the wet rock, for the moisture, for the pooling drops, for the water!  Great place to meet other critters, too; might even find some to eat.  It’s habitat!  Was a hose shut off and left to drip dry BUT now is also a watering hole for microbes and crawly critters AND a hunting ground for larger animals.

Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, , Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, mulch, wood chips, adobe soil, Santa Barbara sedge, Carex barbarae, field sedge (Carex praegegracillus), juncus, Juncus patens, California gray rush, fieldstone, Shady Oak Seat, pond algae, oak, oak tree, Quercus lobataA larger fieldstone will be used in the new Shady Oak Seat wildlife habitat installation.  The installation will include planting 2 majestic valley oaks (juvenile trees are in 1-gallon pots), creating a subterranean wildlife habitat using a large oak tree stump and other wood hulks, and using a large rock to create a seat under the soon-to-be shady oak, while creating a habitat under the seat.

From the Laguna Foundation’s Events page:

About my workshop at the LEC on Sunday morning:

How to Create Residential Wildlife Habitat
Hands-on Workshop with Tony McGuigan
Sunday, July 12, 10:00am-4:00pm
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$55 ($45 for Laguna Foundation members). Suitable for 14 years and up (teens must be accompanied by an adult). Pre-registration required.

Join us for this informative and fun-filled hands-on workshop with habitat landscaper, Tony McGuigan.  Learn how to “think like a plant,” “think like a critter,” and how to creatively foster wildlife habitat and thriving biodiversity in your own yard. Tony will begin the morning with a presentation inside Heron Hall (without Powerpoint!), then move outdoors for a tour of the habitat projects already installed in the landscape. Then we will dig in to create several new wildlife habitats at the Laguna Environmental Center!  This workshop will include light to strenuous landscaping work in the sun, although there will be tasks for every ability. Local materials will be used including native plants, local rock and soil, tree debris, and driftwood. With a strong emphasis on creating natural-looking beauty and aesthetics in the landscape, this workshop will be practical and inspirational.

Tony McGuigan is a Learning Laguna Docent and creates wildlife habitat in residential and educational settings. He is author of the book Habitat It And They Will Come.  His Spore Lore blog discusses Wildlife Habitat Installation and Outdoor Classroom projects. Tony (a Registered Nurse) is currently writing about the health benefits of working with soil and loving Life! See Tony’s monthly project work at the Laguna Environmental Center with Orchard View high school biology students and their latest project, “Turtle Pond Float.”

 

About my talk at the LEC on Saturday afternoon:

Habitat It And They Will Come
Presentation with Tony McGuigan
Saturday, July 11, 3:00-4:30pm
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$10 at the door. No RSVP necessary.

Join us for this entertaining and informative talk about the why, who, and fun-how of creating animal habitats in residential gardens. Learn about some of the challenges wildlife face in suburbia and solutions to create wildlife-rich neighborhoods. Discover what wildlife might be present in our gardens and practical means to attract those critters.

Tony is owner of Spore Lore and the author of Habitat It And They Will Come. His education includes Biology at Long Island University and certificates in Permaculture and Sustainable Landscaping.  His passions include being a Learning Laguna Docent, a Wildlife Habitat Instructor for Orchard View School’s high school Biology outdoor hands-on class at the Laguna Environmental Center, a habitat landscaper, and doing creative wildlife gardening at home.

See you this weekend!  Habitat it!

Tony

 

 

 

Jun 032015
 
Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, , Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, mulch, wood chips, adobe soil, Santa Barbara sedge, Carex barbarae, field sedge (Carex praegegracillus), juncus, Juncus patens, California gray rush, eucalyptus tree, bay tree, pond algae, oak, oak tree

 July 12 Workshop at the LEC -- Creating Residential Wildlife HabitatA Sonoma fieldstone landscape boulder on deck for July 12th’s workshop, Creating Residential Wildlife Habitat, at the Laguna Environmental Center.  Note the boulder’s ability to hold water — it’s a critter waterhole!

Tony McGuigan to Give Talk in Heron Hall

Saturday, July 11, 2015:

Habitat It And They Will Come

Come hear the why, how, and fun of Tony’s passion for residential wildlife habitat landscaping.  Hear how YOU can do such landscaping in YOUR own home gardening. Before and After pictures of the Laguna Environmental Center’s native plant landscape.  Presentation will be followed by question session.  Snacks.

When: Saturday, July 11, 2015, 3:00 – 4:30PM.

Place: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, or LEC, on Stone Farm, at 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, California, 95401.  The LEC is operated by the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation.

$10 at the door. No RSVP necessary.

Laguna Foundation’s Outings and Events

July 12 Workshop at the LEC -- Creating Residential Wildlife HabitatA red-winged blackbird struts his stuff atop Oak Tunnel Tower, a wildlife habitat installed by Tony McGuigan and the students of Orchard View School at the LEC, January 2014.

Tony McGuigan to Give Hands-On Workshop at the LEC

Sunday, July 12, 2015:

Habitat It!

We will build several wildlife habitats, ranging from simple to more complex.  All installation projects will emphasize how such a wildlife habitat installation can be installed in a residential, city, suburban, or country garden.  Short talk (no PowerPoint) with snacks, then hands-on landscaping.  We will have fun!

When: Sunday, July 12, 2015, 10AM.

Place: Meet at Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, or LEC, on Stone Farm, at 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, California, 95401.  The LEC is operated by the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation.

$55 ($45 for Laguna Foundation members). Suitable for 14 years and up (teens must be accompanied by an adult). Pre-registration required.

Laguna Foundation’s Outings and Events

May 272015
 
Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, mulch, wood chips, adobe soil, Santa Barbara sedge, Carex barbarae, field sedge (Carex praegegracillus), juncus, Juncus patens, California gray rush, eucalyptus tree, bay tree, pond algae

Turtle Pond Float is a fix-it landscaping art project turned wildlife habitat installation.  This project is an Outdoor Classroom project: Orchard View School; Sunny Galbraith, teacher, and 7 of her Biology students.  Location: Laguna Environmental Center.  Date of installation project: May 20th, 2015.

The Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation operates the Laguna Environmental Center, or LEC, on Stone Farm, at 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, California, 95401. This wildlife habitat installation is at the LEC’s (Laguna Environmental Center’s) pond.

We will “fix” the problem of a sunken pond turtle haul out; the log that was installed on the pond’s sloping bank and into the pond last year has sunken below water surface level.  Also, we will make the landscaping seem more natural by hiding another log’s unsightly sawcut.

A western pond turtle climbs onto Turtle Pond Pier at the LEC, summer of 2014.  The log has since sunken below the pond’s surface.

Prep for the installation

A volunteer steps forward. This eucalyptus arching limb, stored dry for a few years, will become Turtle Pond Float – a haul out and sunning log for Western Pond Turtles and a perch-over-the-pond for birds and flying insects, like dragonflies and damselflies.  Note how I am using one finger to hold the arch upright — the log’s center of gravity is being displayed.  Understanding the log’s density and center of gravity will help determine where a float (an empty bottle) will be attached to the log’s under side.

Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, mulch, wood chips, adobe soil, Santa Barbara sedge, Carex barbarae, field sedge (Carex praegegracillus), juncus, Juncus patens, California gray rush, eucalyptus tree, bay tree, pond algaeA eucalyptus arched limb comes out of storage.  The long arch creates a wide floatable frame; the log will not spin in the water like a more linear log might.  Therefore, the log will not roll over in the water and the perch end, foreground, will stay above water.  An installed float under the perch end will keep the perch above the pond’s surface.

Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, mulch, wood chips, adobe soil, Santa Barbara sedge, Carex barbarae, field sedge (Carex praegegracillus), juncus, Juncus patens, California gray rush, eucalyptus tree, bay tree, pond algaeIn the workshop, making a tether bolt/washer for Turtle Pond Float.  [L to R]: my hand holding a 1/2″ hex head bolt, used cap to a 5-gal water cooler jar, 2″ plastic washer with 1/2″ hole (a 2″ hole saw cut the lid of a 5-gal bucket), the hex head nut.

Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, Orchard View School, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, mulch, wood chips, adobe soil, Santa Barbara sedge, Carex barbarae, field sedge (Carex praegegracillus), juncus, Juncus patens, California gray rush, eucalyptus tree, bay tree, pond algaeTurtle Pond Float tether snapped together.

Using salvaged electrical wire and a 2-liter bottle to outfit Turtle Pond Float for the Pond.  Note, for the bottle float attachment, four 1/2″ 90-degree metal brackets provide strapping holes for the electrical wire.  2″ deck screws secure the the brackets to the log.  The loop of wire in my boot will help me tighten the bottle’s wire knot.

Turtle Pond Float’s bottle float sealed and secured.  Ready to go!  Note the wire ends tucked under the bottle.  Also, the bottle cap was closed down tightly, wrapped with tape, and the tape was then pull-tied.  Please don’t leak!

Installation Day

View north from the Laguna Foundation’s back porch. The outdoor classroom project today is across the pond.

The Before of the wildlife habitat installation, Turtle Pond Float.  A bay tree log is beached against the pond’s sedge and juncus rush bank.  One of the purposes of this wildlife habitat installation is to relocate/reposition the bay log, AKA, the Bay Log.  The landscape will look more natural when Bay Log’s sawcuts are more hidden.  Note the abundance of algae on the pond surface.  Tule reeds grow out into the pond, left.

Before, west view.  Note the pond surface, May 20, 2015, on installation day.  We are moving toward hotter, dryer weather, summer.  The pond surface will lower then.  Alternatively, the pond level will rise in rainy winter.  To keep the turtle haul-out log at a consistent level above the surface, the floating log will be loosely tethered to the shore, which will allow the log to rise and fall as the pond surface does.

The PLAN — Turtle Pond Float.

Pondside instruction. We will create a small juncus (Juncus patens, California grey rush) patch growing at the base of two partially buried and partially water saturated logs. Both the mud-to-log and water-to-log interfaces will provide habitat for pond creatures. Larger trophic animals (like turtles, water-loving snakes, salamanders and frogs, and birds) will utilize Turtle Pond Float’s logs as a sunning haul-out, a resting or hunting perch, or a wall in the mud to snuggle up to.  Ducks and other shore birds will enjoy the cover of the bankside vegetation.

Digging the hole to bury the short (20 inches) tether log. Some of the sedge (Carex barbarae) dug out will return back to the hole. Rocks are collected in a separate bucket; they will be tossed on the tether log before the hole is filled in with mudbank soil, plants, and the end of Bay Log. Many buckets are used to separate out what comes of digging the mudbank hole. Organization now helps safely store away those pondside plants that we may use later. Better to have some resources, like native plants and good alive mud, left over than not enough to finish the project.

Mucking it up — digging away the bankside for planting and to bury the tether anchor (a sturdy, short branch section).

Four teams running. 1—Sedge mudbank diggers (right). 2—Pond algae collectors (left). 3—Field sedge planters (behind, out of view). 4—Historians — thank you photographers Jenna and Anita!

Holding a Pacific Tree Frog (Pseudacris regilla), also known as the Pacific Chorus Frog, found among the sedges. This non-virtual contact with Nature alivens the outdoor classroom project.

A crew of students (and teacher) weeds up slope from the installation site.  Log of Truth, right, which some of these students installed in February of 2014, has grown in nicely.

Turtle Haul Out is being moved from its launchpad at the LEC’s Observation Platform’s packed gravel (water permeable) path. Note the eucalyptus limb’s modifications: the bottle float and the tether pin (1/2” bolt with 2” white plastic washer). The students will lower Turtle Pond Float to the installation crew waiting at pondside.

Instruction to the students: Get the log in the water without knocking off the bottle. So far, so good. The bottle end of the limb will go in first, with the float UNDER the log, and will be floated out to the middle of the pond.

Tying the driftwood “anchor” to Turtle Pond Float using salvaged electrical wire.

Clipping/cleaning the wire tie tether.

Juncus patens has been planted on top of and next to Bay Log (left, horizontal) and Turtle Pond Float (right bottom). Pond algae was used to mulch the planting. Note that Bay Log’s largest sawcut has been hidden in the reeds. Shhhhh!

Almost done. The wood limbs are in place and the planting is finished.  Note how Turtle Pond Float’s end is above the water’s surface, now.

Finishing touches include returning some dead grass and organic debris to the planting AND slopping Bay Log with pond algae (right).

Log of Truth gets some TLC – weeding, planting field sedge (Carex praegegracillus), and mulching with woodchips. Note Turtle Pond Float just right and downhill of Log of Truth. The view is looking south, cross the pond.

The Laguna Foundation’s Director of Restoration and Conservation Science Programs, Wendy Trowbridge, inspects the completed Turtle Pond Float installation.  Hmmmm.

Orchard View Biology students and teacher Sunny Galbraith, and me (Tony McGuigan) celebrate Turtle Pond Float and a successful school year of wildlife habitat installations! We are looking directly at the pond, west view.

View from the bridge, west, 27 hours after installation. Sunset bathes the pond. Turtle Pond Float will most likely sink an inch or two underwater as it saturates with pond water. However, the air-filled bottle will keep the haul out and sunning perch (left end) afloat. Calling all Western Pond Turtles!

And Thank You, too, Orchard View Biology students and teacher Sunny Galbraith. Nice bird, Cassidy!

Enjoy your wildlife habitat creations.  Habitat it!

                                                Tony

May 012015
 
mulch, wood chips, adobe soil, berm, ditch, badger, American Badger,  (Taxidea Taxus), Compost Cricket Corral, Santa Barbara sedge, Carex barbarae, Garter Snake Ravine, field sedge (Carex praegegracillus), piggy-back plant (Tolmiea menziesii), juncus, Juncus patens, California gray rush, oak, valley oak, Quercus lobata, Laguna Environmental Center, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, environmental conservation,  Stone Farm, outdoor classroom, nonvirtual education, touch the soil!, Orchard View School, Tony McGuigan, Spore Lore, Habitat It And They Will Come, garden, soil, Soil Under My Nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, wildlife habitat installation, environmental education, ecological landscaping, Animal Habitat, garden, ecological, landscaping, wildlife garden, biodiversity

Badger Hole Hollow is a cleanup project turned Wildlife Habitat Installation.  This project is an Outdoor Classroom project: Orchard View School; Sunny Galbraith, teacher, and 7 of her Biology students.  Location: Laguna Environmental Center.  Date of classroom project: April 15th, 2015.

The Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation operates the Laguna Environmental Center, or LEC, on Stone Farm, at 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, California, 95401. This wildlife habitat installation borders the LEC’s (Laguna Environmental Center’s) Native Plant Nursery, which is used for the Foundation’s Conservation Program.

About 2 years ago, on October 3, 2013, a massive valley oak fell in Doyle Park, Santa Rosa.  The City of Santa Rosa had sections of the tree hauled off to one of its wood “graveyards”.  The Laguna Foundation coaxed Stone Horse‘s farmer, Stuart Schroeder, to use his implement carrier to bring sections of the huge Doyle Park valley oak to the Laguna Foundation, the purpose being to foster landscape rehabilitation to the Laguna Environmental Center’s fairly recent construction zone around Heron Hall.

“Just a little to the left and back a bit.”  Doyle Park Heritage (valley) Oak section is added to the habitat landscaping of the LEC.  Note the implement carrier, with its 4-chain hoist — a flywheel at the head of the metal frame’s roof turns pipes that winds those chains around the pipes.  The chains shorten thereby lifting the load.  Great way to lift a tree!  And move it!

2013.

2015.   These oak sections, although they will ultimately “return to the earth”, could look more naturally placed in the landscape.  They will be repositioned to hide the human-made chainsaw cuts.  And in doing so a wildlife habitat will be created.

Close-up of BEFORE.  Two oak log sections with their chainsaw cuts facing each other.

A lot to prep before the students arrive.  The larger section will be partially buried — the chainsaw cut will sit in a hole and the shredded, more-naturally broken end will twist skyward.  One end will create den structure for subterranean animals and the other will provide perch-above-the-grasses for climbing animals and birds.  Woodchip mulch is dumped against Trunk (the larger section) 2 weeks before installation date to wick water  to the adobe soil below.  Softening the soil with moisture will make the digging soooo much easier!

Woodchip mulch is piled up against Trunk (larger section) and watered to moisten the adobe soil 2 weeks prior to digging.

One day before installation date.  Staff and an intern discuss pulling weeds.  One staffer has a weed by the throat.  This native plant landscape will some day be a native plant meadow; till then, weeding is an essential job.  Note the soil bins in queue next to the oak logs — they will store soil as the hole for Trunk is dug.  Bin 1 = top soil; Bin 2 = layer under the topsoil; Bin 3 = less rich sol, adobe clay; Bin 4 = heavy adobe clay.  The bins were labeled as dug and stored to allow the correct bin/soil layer to be returned to the habitat installation at the right time.  Preserving the soil layers helps disrupt the soil ingredients less, including critters and soil microbes.  Nutrients and critters that were living in the topsoil remain in the topsoil.  The same is true for the other soil layers.

A note labels Bin 3 to sequence when its soil will return to the installation.

 

The spade head marks the spot — we will bury our treasure (Trunk) here.  The smaller oak tree section, which has been subsequently named “Crocodile”, has been moved out of the way.  A cardboard barricade has been temporarily installed to throw dug soil onto; a pile will be created close by to be able to cover over Trunk/hole once Trunk is slid into position, that is, dropped into the hole.

Digging so that Trunk can drop into a hole.  The soil pile will return over Trunk, then planted.

Trunk is coaxed via truck chain into its 4-foot hole rest.

Almost there — time to remove the lower chain bolt.  Once the lower bolt was removed, the Trunk was edged vertically into the hole from the chain looped around Trunk’s “top” end.

The next morning — installation day for Badger Hole Hollow!  The digging bar perimeter will help the students walk carefully around the native plants living alongside Badger Hole Hollow, or “BHH”.  Trunk is far enough in the ground it will stay put, minimizing any danger issue.  The smaller oak section, Crocodile, will be positioned by today’s Biology class students.

Julia, a student donating her time at the LEC, transplants native plants, like the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) shown above, to a temporary mound of moist woodchips.  The collected plants will be saved from being trampled during the installation and then will be replaced on or alongside Badger Hole Hollow as a finishing touch.  If 1 out of 3 or 4 survive the transplant, at least there will be one more native plant to jumpstart the installation.

 

Orchard View students are on site.  Red and blue irrigation flags were used to create easily visible walkways between the established (wanted) native plants.

Crocodile wrestling — students position Crocodile into a position that will maximize the wood hulk’s ground surface coverage (for animal shelter) and its landscaping beauty.

Students break up a stick pile 1) to get rid of the pile of sticks from the compost pile, and 2) to provide organic debris under the habitat installation’s soil planting.  Microbes to crawly critters to critters that eat those lower trophic animals will call the small buried stick pile home, habitat.

A student breaks up sticks, then uses his body weight to compress the broken stick pile up against Trunk and Crocodile.

Soil is backfilled (background) and woodchips are mixed into the habitat to prepare for plantings.

Juncus, or California gold rush (Juncus patens), is planted in between and at the base of Trunk and Crocodile.  The juncus, which love moisture, will be on and downslope of the soil/woodchip pile between the 2 oak tree sections.

 

Field sedge (Carex praegegracillus) plugs are planted in the surrounding area of BHH.  –Per Wikipedia, “ [Field sedge] tolerates disturbed habitat such as roadsides and thrives in alkaline substrates.” In other words, field sedge is a good choice for our native plant restoration, and subsequent wildlife habitat creation, of this graded soil next to LEC’s road.

Fields sedge and juncus are planted on Badger Hole Hollow’s hill.

Badger Hole Hollow gets water.  This outdoor classroom rocks!

Badger Hole Hollow wildlife habitat has been installed AND field sedge plugs have been planted up to the road’s edge.

A jack rabbit leaps (center of photo) above the landscape’s sedges and grasses as the project is cleaned up.

Badger Hole Hollow will rest now and enjoy the sunset.

Close-up of AFTER.  All in all, Trunk and Crocodile have had a great day.

Will a badger come to live under or near Badger Hole Hollow?  Perhaps, perhaps not, but in the meantime, the critters of the landscape have another option in the terraine.

The students of Orchard View School, teacher Sunny Galbraith, and Cordy and David and I had fun at this outdoor classroom Biology project.  A thank you also to the Laguna Foundation’s staff, especially Wendy Trowbridge, Director of Restoration and Conservation Science Programs, and Brent Reed, Restoration Projects Supervisor.  Thanks for the plants, Brent.  Cool project!

Enjoy your wildlife habitat creations.  Habitat it!

Tony

 Pics from last month:

[To the Orchard View Students — Sorry I did not get last month’s photos out sooner. I must have had my drill set for REVERSE!]

 Native Plants installed in Habitat Garden, March 2015

A Western Fence Lizard crawls into the sun from Compost Cricket Corral.