Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ebright Creek Restoration Work 12/13/14

Impressive blackberry roots removed!
Explaining how invasive holly is a problem in our natural areas
Restoration work continues at Ebright Creek park. On 12/13/14 further planting and blackberry removal was done. Thanks to the volunteers and native plant stewards the habitat next to the creek is being improved. And as an added treat, 3 pileated woodpeckers were spotted in the nearby trees before work began.  Most of us had never seen that many in one place at one time.

Attracting Birds with Native Plants

Spotted towhee bird pipilo maculatus perching on a branch by Kramer Gary, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Attracting Birds with Native Plants
Washington Native Plant Society
CPS Chapter( Eastside Branch)
January 27th, 2015
Learn how to enhance your garden to attract a wide range of native birds in all seasons. Connie will present slides showing the most common birds that can be attracted to your yard. She will also give tips on the kinds of native plants that can be used to landscape a Pacific Northwest garden for birds and how to supplement it with feeders and other aids.
Connie Sidles is a master birder and long-time member of Seattle Audubon Society. She has written four books about nature focusing on her favorite "backyard," Montlake Fill on the UW campus. She is a board member of Friends of Yesler Swamp and leads numerous walks through these sites.
Date Tuesday, January 27th, 2015   
7:00 pm --Social Time (meet your fellow Eastsiders)
7:30 pm--Program begins
King County LIbrary Service Center
Room 2A/B
960 Newport Way NW
Issaquah, WA
Contact:    Franja Bryant
(If you would like to have your name added to our Eastside email list, contact

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Save those leaves!

More good advice from WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife about getting your garden ready for winter.

November 2014
Photo: Vine maple with fall colors
Leaving those leaves helps your garden and wildlife
By Jamie Bails, WDFW Habitat Biologist

A few autumns ago, after watching a neighbor rake and bag fallen leaves, I asked him if I could spread the leaves around my perennial beds as mulch. He hesitatingly agreed and watched suspiciously as I quickly loaded up eight bags into the wheelbarrow and giddily spread the leaves around my flower beds.

Like many people, my neighbor narrowly understood the value of leaf litter. Leaves were simply raked, bagged and taken to the dump -- not my idea of natural gardening. The next year, they cut down the trees, reducing my leaf supply. For now, a 100-year-old big leaf maple and other native trees I’ve planted will provide a healthy supply of leaves, saving me truckloads of soil composted from other people’s yards.

Using those leaves for mulch also helps the wildlife that visit my yard. They provide a food source for insects which in turn are eaten by many birds, reptiles and amphibians. Leaves also indirectly support wildlife habitat in general by improving overall soil and plant health.

As leaves are falling and you’re raking them up this month, think about these Top Ten Reasons to use those leaves as mulch:

Provides food source for beneficial insects which improve the health of the soil and in turn are eaten by wildlife
Improves and adds nutrients to the soil
Increases and strengthens plant root growth
Regulates the temperature of the soil, keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter
Reduces weeds, as long as the mulch is weed free and deep enough to prevent weed germination or smother existing weeds
Prevents the surface of the soil from cracking or eroding by retaining moisture
Prevents rain water from running off the soil and disappearing down a storm water drain
Prevents water from splashing up onto plants which slows the spread of soil-borne diseases
Prevents the soil from crusting or compacting
Creates a natural forest floor environment
Without leaf litter on the soil, rain will release clay and silt particles, increasing sedimentation, reducing the soil’s capacity to absorb water, and accelerating soil erosion. Leaf litter also reduces wind erosion by preventing soil from losing moisture and providing cover.

Leaves are valuable soil amendments because they’re the dominant pathway for nutrients to return to the soil, especially nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). These nutrients accumulate in the top layer of soil until leaves decompose, by rainfall and organisms, and leach or release the nutrients into the soil below.

A wide range of organisms takes part in the decomposition process, most relatively inconspicuous, unglamorous and, from a conventional human perspective, even undesirable. This detritivore community includes beetles and their larvae, flies and maggots (the larvae of flies), woodlice, fungi, slime molds, bacteria, slugs and snails, millipedes, springtails and earthworms. This community works out of sight and gradually, over months or years. Cumulatively, they are the unsung heroes who convert all dead plant and animal material into forms that are useable for growth.

There are several ways you can use leaves as mulch:

Slow-Compost Method: Rake the leaves off the lawn (assuming you still have lawn) and pile on flower beds to make the rich hummus and leaf mold that you would find in a mature forest. The leaf nutrients will leach out while the remainder of the dried leaf will slowly compost over the winter, putting nutrients directly back into the soil with the aid of the detritivores. This is a great method for soils that are clay, compacted or dry, and it won’t smother or burn plants.

Lawn-mower Method: Run your lawnmower over the leaves and then rake onto plant beds. This is a great alternative to purchasing beauty bark or wood chips. When spreading the leaves, be careful not to cover the plant crowns. Shred large leafs like big leaf maple to break down more quickly. Large, leathery, evergreen leaves like madrona, laurel and photinia need to be shredded unless they can be allowed to decompose over several years in a back corner. Evergreen leaves can be added to a hot compost pile to accelerate decomposition.

Both of these methods are excellent ways to encourage beneficial insects in your yard. Beetles, spiders, and centipedes readily crawl under leaves for protection through the winter, as well as deposit eggs in the soil or leaf litter.

Compost Pile Method: Store leaves in feed sacks and add to compost pile as brown material over winter. An abundance of leaves can be in a wire cage for decomposition over the winter. By spring, the compost is ready to spread on beds or can be added to the food waste compost bin.

Livestock Method: If you keep poultry or livestock, use your supply of leaves for litter or bedding along with straw or hay. Leaf mold thus enriched with extra nitrogen may later be mixed directly with soil or added to the compost pile or spread throughout the garden.

If you don’t have enough leaves from trees on your own property, ask a neighbor if you can rake their leaves onto your yard. They may think you are crazy, but you’ll be walking away with valuable free soil amendments and a boost for your backyard wildlife.

Habitat Restoration Season is in Full Swing!
Come join your neighbors in restoring Sammamish city parks.
Photos from planting day at Ebright Creek Park

Upcoming Restoration Events
Sammamish Landing
Nov. 15 & 22 10:00 to 2:00
Lower Commons
Dec. 6  9:00 to noon
Ebright Creek Park
Dec. 13  9:00 to noon
For more information go to   find the home calendar page and click on the event date

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Good advice from WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife about getting your garden ready for winter.


September 2014 

Fall "To Do" list from your backyard wildlife family 

Your family may be making those fall outdoor chore lists, as daylight hours shrink, temperatures drop, and the urge grows to "batten down the hatches" in the yard and garden. 

Here's another "to do" list from your local wildlife "family" that you may find easier to check off: 

Leave some "dead heads" on your flowering plants to provide seeds for some of us birds and other animals 

If you must rake leaves off grass lawns, just pile them under some shrubs, bushes or other nooks and crannies to provide homes for those insects that we birds love to eat; leaves make great mulch to help your plants, anyway! 

Keep that dead or dying tree right where it is (unless, of course, it's truly a hazard to you), so we can feast on the insects in the rotting wood or make winter roosts or dens in its cavities 

Give yourself and your mower a rest for at least a portion of your lawn so we've got a patch of taller grass to hide and forage in 

Save just a little of that dead bramble thicket for us - it makes great winter cover and we don't need much! 

Fall is a good time to plant shrubs, so replace invasive, exotic Himalayan and cutleaf blackberries with native plants of higher wildlife value like blackcap (native black raspberry) or red raspberry; native currants or gooseberries found in your area; or native roses such as Nootka or baldhip. 

Pile up any brush or rocks you clear around your place to give us another option for nests and dens 

Take it easy on yourself and let go of the "perfect" garden image; we wild animals like less tidy, "fuzzy" places because there's usually more food and shelter there 

Get yourself a comfortable chair, sit back, and congratulate yourself on having made a home for wildlife and a haven of relaxation for yourself!

Garden for wildlife

Garden for wildlife by purchasing native plants from the Washington Native Plant Society
Central Puget Sound Chapter
Fall Native Plant Sale
Saturday, October 4, 2014
7740 35th Ave NE, Seattle in the Wedgewood neighborhood
Quantities are limited; last minute changes possible
Sale Chair: Kathleen Winters
Volunteer Coordinator: Marissa
Donations Coordinator: Rick Thompson