111 Ivanhoe Drive, Swannanoa, NC 28778
Sunday October 3,
The Friends of Fox Creek Park gathered once again for a fun and productive work day this past Sunday. About 16 folks, including some inspiring and joyful young people, spent a couple of hours lending their talents to the cause.
We began our day with a fun and informative plant identification activity designed and led by Belle Gironda and Glen Peterson. Volunteers were given a sheet with several images and descriptions of plants to be found in the park, whereupon they fanned out in groups to search for examples. None of us got them all. All of us got a few. In the end we all learned things we didn’t know and had fun doing it.
After “class” we put ourselves to the tasks of spreading mulch along the entrance to the park and picking up trash that has accumulated in the stream bed. (A special shout out to my friend Thomas, who not only gathered more than his share of trash but also helped with the mulch and later accompanied me on an adventure into the brush.)
Another highlight of a thoroughly enjoyable day was a couple of sightings of our namesake, the fox that has been prowling the property for generations. Jay even found the remains of a fresh meal in the form of dove feathers scattered in the hollow of a down tree. Other sightings were of a mud salamander, an unidentified frog and the majestic hawk that hunts the area.
Our new picnic table, or as I keep calling it the “World Headquarters”, came in handy as a buffet table when lunch arrived. We all tucked in to some Chopped Carolina Pork BBQ, Smoked Venison Sausage, Vegan Hoppin’ John and Macaroni and Cheese, as well as coleslaw, chips and fresh oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
You see what you miss when you sleep in on a Sunday?
Drone footage of our work day taken by Walter Beals
Drone Footage Filmed and edited by Walter Beals
Another amazing volunteer work day at Fox Creek Park happened on Sunday August 29th, when about two dozen friends and neighbors spent the afternoon working together to move our community project forward.
During the course of the day one group cut the access trail further back towards the woods while others continued to work on clearing the entrance of invasive Ground Ivy (Hederacea glechom ) and further shaped our entry footpath.
One of our major goals was to sever kudzu vines that are covering the trees on the edge of the forest. By killing the flowering portion of these climbing vines we hope to interrupt their life cycle enough to dramatically reduce the fruiting and thus the spread of this alien invasive nuisance.
All it takes is a walk down Ivanhoe drive to view the withering and brown leaves along the tree line and you can get a glimpse the success of this ongoing effort.
At the end of the working portion of the day we enjoyed tacos and watermelon, visited with old friends, made some wonderful new ones and dreamed of the future.
Every time we get together it is apparent what a fantastic group of folks we have joining their efforts to bring this project into being.
A few shout outs -
- Our dear friends Doug and Glen tackled some Kudzu and Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maacki) beyond the creek on very difficult terain.
- Lyall, whose endless good cheer and willingness to reach out to everyone around him has been a hidden catalyst for much of this work. So great to have you with us, and all the way from China too!
- Erin and Cooper, Cameron and Whitney, Jonathan... direct neighbors of the park without whose support this would all be unthinkable.
- Kathryn for identifying Arrow-leaved Tearthumb (Persicaria sagittata)
- Mike for spearheading the team cutting so far into the wilderness.
- Jay for identifying and adding ribbons to a bunch of native plants
- Susanna for realizing we needed a tarp and finding one at Katie and Matthew's place (is that really what happened?)
- Our younger volunteers, who proved once again how capable, brilliant and joyful young people are. You were by far the best of us!
- One woman discovered Leucothoe fontanesiana, "Doghobble" growing at the entrance and weeded everything else out of it. Somehow, that patch did not get trampled, cut down, or otherwise obliterated. Did she guard it? Educate her volunteer neighbors? Who was she? What happened there - We want to learn from it!
It has been said that a park is not trees and grasses and flowers, but rather the people that build and support it. This could not be more clear when you look into the faces of this proud and growing cohort that is Fox Creek Park.
More of these days will be coming up, and if you haven't done so already we hope you will consider tossing your hat into the ring by clicking below.
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is a flowering annual that is visible throughout the wet areas of Fox Creek Park this time of year. This lovely herbaceous plan grows in thick patches reaching 3-5 feet tall, has alternately spaced oval leaves that are lightly toothed and is covered with little orange spotted flowers from Summer through the first frost in Fall.
The flowers are sometimes commonly known as “Touch-Me-Nots” due to their tendency to fling seeds away from the plant at the slightest touch when the seed pods are mature.
Jewel Weed is pollinated by native Bumblebees and Hummingbirds and is common throughout the eastern half of North American in moist, shady areas, disturbed land and roadside ditches.
Well known to Native American people, the sap of the Jewel Weed was used to treat itching and rashes such as poison ivy and also has been demonstrated to have anti-fungal properties.
The yellow variant (Impatiens pallid) while less common, is sometimes found in and around stands of the spotted orange variety, but in Fox Creek we see only the orange version.
This lovely plant grows in prolific stands surrounding the creeks and bog areas in Fox Creek Park from the spillway north in the shady areas beside the path.
image courtesy of Glen Peterson
“In the South, history clings to you like a wet blanket. Outside your door the past awaits in Indian mounds, plantation ruins, heaving sidewalks and homestead graveyards; each slowly reclaimed by the kudzu of time.”
As a typically lush summer moves through the Swannanoa valley, so do the plans and activities surrounding our newest public space; “Fox Creek Park”.
In early June Larry Pierson, deputy fire chief of the Swannanoa Fire Department, sergeant with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and strong supporter of Swannanoa, spent a soggy day clearing out and hauling away several tons of logs and debris from what will become the entrance to the park on Ivanhoe Drive.
Passersby will also notice that the dense overgrowth of kudzu overwhelming the spillway has been slowly receding thanks to the efforts of one of our newest neighbors, Glen Peterson. Glen has been spending a lot of time and effort weeding and clearing our entrance and working to identify valuable plant species inside the boundaries of the park. Glen’s input reaches even further however, as he has inspired us to think more deeply about the vision for the future that is “Fox Creek Park”. With a better understanding of what is there and what needs to be preserved, we are starting to feel ready to take the first tentative steps towards preparing the space for visitors.
With all this in mind, the first general work party took place at Fox Creek Park on the morning of Saturday July 31st when a group of fourteen volunteers toured Fox Creek Park, cleared some brush, and enjoyed a picnic lunch beside the spillway. In a short time, we were able to clear much of the invasive ground cover from the future entrance to the park and began the work of cutting a path back into the property. If you take the time to walk down Ivanhoe drive, you’ll see what was accomplished. To really experience the fun and satisfaction of being part of such an exciting project you should join us next time.
More of these gatherings will be coming soon and all are encouraged to participate if you can.
A happy group of workers who met on Saturday July 31st to begin clearing Fox Creek Park