With a grant from Unity Gardens, the intent of this conservation landscaping planting project is to enclose the canopy to reduce competition from weeds and invasives, supplement plant species commonly associated with Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance Systems, enhance habitat for wildlife (cover and food) and stabilize soils.
The Chesapeake Children’s Museum is located on a roughly 5-acre site at the upper tidal limits of Spa Creek. It is registered as a City of Annapolis protected land conservancy, named Spa Creek Conservancy. The site is mostly wooded, bounded by a tidal marsh to the south, the Truxtun Heights community to the north and west and Spa Creek to the east.
The ravine project is along the north side of the property and is approximately 1.5 acres. The upper part of the project is characterized by moderate slopes with a partially enclosed canopy of hardwood trees. The lower part of the project outfalls to a small non-tidal wetland. This area is characterized by Onoclea sensibilis (Sensitive Fern) and Impatiens capensis (Jewelweed), with a partially enclosed canopy surrounding the periphery.
Large gaps were previously created in the canopy from invasive vines that had overtaken and toppled some of the larger trees. Invasive species removals in summer of 2016 and spring of 2017 opened gaps along the edges of the woodland and left a ground plane largely devoid of an understory and shrub layer.
Canopy Trees – Included to compliment other hardwood species that were previously planted.
Carya tomentosa – Mockernut Hickory: Excellent wildlife resource for songbirds, waterfowl, and small mammals. Excellent long-lived canopy tree.
Pioneer Species – These are faster growing or colonizing species intended to fill in gaps in the tree canopy quickly. These would eventually be superseded by the slower growing Hickory and Oak species.
Liquidambar styraciflua – Sweet Gum: Grows rapidly and is long-lived, adapting to a variety of sites. Seed balls attract several bird species. Provides nesting sites, cover and fruit for birds and mammals. The gum obtained from genus plants has been used in the past for a variety of purposes, including chewing gum, incense, perfumes, folk medicines and flavorings.
Pinus rigida – Pitch Pine: Once a source of resin. Colonists produced turpentine and tar used for axle grease from this species. Evergreen good for native forest setting or in poor soils. High wildlife value.
Rhus copallina – Flameleaf Sumac: Best for dry, informal, naturalized areas where it can be allowed to spread and form colonies. effective when massed on slopes for erosion control or in hard-to-cover areas with poorer soils. Naturalize in open woodland areas, wood margins or wild areas. Fruit is attractive to wildlife.
Understory Trees – Small tress and large shrubs for filling in edge transitions and provide a layer of understory cover.
Alnus serrulata – Smooth Alder: Multi-stemmed, suckering, thicket-forming, large deciduous shrub. High wildlife value. Specimen found on site.
Cornus florida – Flowering Dogwood: Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, organically rich, acidic soils in part shade. Attracts birds and butterflies. Deer tolerant.
Hamamelis virginiana – Witch Hazel: Deciduous shrub or small tree that is native to woodlands, forest margins and stream banks in eastern North America. Late fall, early winter bloom. Deer tolerant.
Viburnum prunifolium – Black Haw: Blue-black berry-like drupes which often persist into winter and are quite attractive to birds and wildlife. Fruits are edible and may be eaten off the bush when ripe or used in jams and preserves. Drought, pollution tolerant.
Ground Cover – Small shrubs to supplement plantings around the step pools and to add a lower understory layer in the woodland.
Gaylussacia frondosa – Blue Huckleberry or Dingleberry: High wildlife value and edible fruit.
Rhododendron viscosum – Swamp Azalea: This species of azalea is tolerant of moist to wet soils including ones with somewhat poor drainage and tolerates periodic flooding. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
Vaccinium angustifolia – Lowbush Blueberry: A low, straggling shrub, usually 6 in. to 2 ft. tall and wide. Multiple stems; twiggy branches. Berries are relished by most birds and mammals. Special value to bumble bees.
Rosa palustris – Swamp Rose: An upright deciduous shrub with arching branches that typically grows to 3-6′ tall and as wide. It is native to wet ground and will tolerate some seasonal flooding. Red hips edible. Attracts birds and butterflies.