After reviewing dozens of designs, the Friends of the Cumberland Trail Board of Directors selected this stunning waterfall to represent just one among many scenes we can appreciate along the Cumberland Trail. We are taking names and $35 checks to help us reach our goal of 1,000 license plates by June 2017.
To order a plate, send a $35 check to Treasurer, Friends of The Cumberland Trail, P.O. Box 2868, Cookeville, TN 38502-2868 along with the following information:
If we do not make our 1,000 goal, your check will be returned to you.
This is probably the first time I have ever written a book review, being so compelled to recommend the recently published “Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes” by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West (Timber Press, 2015). As the book jacket suggests, this guide presents a powerful alternative to traditional horticulture: designed plantings that function like naturally occurring plant communities. Frequently, I am approached by homeowners who understand the benefits of creating habitat in their landscapes with native plants but have no idea how to begin. This book is the first I’ve come across that provides a straightforward approach to the design of a landscape that performs many of the ecological functions lost in the typical suburban and urban environment.
Finally, landscape design is presented using a “form ever follows function” approach first announced by Louis Sullivan, the father of modern architecture who similarly challenged the ornamentally-oriented approach to building design by stating that the form of the building should be in direct relation to its purpose. In the same way, we are encouraged to see that landscapes must perform functions other than to frame our houses and buildings—we must rebuild natural areas lost to development. As co-author Claudia West observes, “The front lines of the battle for nature are not in the Amazon rain forest or the Alaskan wilderness; the front lines are our backyards, medians, parking lots, and elementary schools. The ecological warriors of our future won’t just be scientists and engineers, but gardeners, horticulturalists, land managers, landscape architects, transportation department staff, elementary school teaches, and community association board members.”
The authors begin by defining designed plant communities and then provide the structural principles. For many native plant gardeners, some of the functional aspects of these principles are familiar but we often find we are weak on the design aspect. For example, how often do we think about environmental stresses being an asset? All vascular plants require basic resources to live, but some plants are better adapted to dealing with shortages than others. We try to change the environment to suit the plant when we should be focusing on plants that suit that environment. It is these limiting environments that possess a “sense of place” that we often hear extolled as a reason to use native plants. If you have a dry, gravelly area, don’t try to change the soil---instead use plants found in naturally in those areas. Think of the “concrete jungle” as an environment and find plants that form communities in those harsh environments (other than exotic invasive pest plants).
Planting in a Post-Wild World provides a framework and inspiration by defining landscape archetypes such as grasslands, woodlands and shrublands, forests and edges and the components that make them legible as well as functional. For example, most suburban homeowners in the Southeast would find their archetype a forest edge while homeowners in the Midwest’s archetype might be grasslands especially if they live in a development carved out from farmland. Determining your archetype is an important first step and will help you create a coherent and true landscape.
The authors describe the importance of arranging plants in communities and echoes what naturalists like Doug Tallamy has been stating --- plant densely and in layers to create habitat and resiliency. Plants naturally occur in communities that work synergistically—roots touch roots and share nutrients; early blooming plants are shaded from hot sun by later leafing large trees, grasses, and shrubs. Tightly woven plants prevent soil erosion and help to retain moisture. This community concept has been lost in “modern” landscaping that has been driven solely by cost and aesthetic appeal. We must now return to the fact that landscapes must function – habitat restoration, urban cooling, storm water retention, erosion control, water quality enhancement, and so forth.
Native plant enthusiasts might be disappointed that the authors do not mandate a strictly native plant approach. As a practical matter, we probably cannot recreate the pristine native plant ecosystems in place before mankind disrupted the landscape, changing the soils and biota perhaps permanently. The book’s focus is on plants naturally adapted to their specific sites, with the emphasis on the relationship of plant to place. Native species and can and should be the starting point for developing high-quality designed communities.
The book can be found at Amazon and other booksellers, including the publisher’s website http://www.timberpress.com/books/planting_post_wild_world/rainer/9781604695533.
In case you haven't heard the news, pollinators need our help! From Monarch butterflies to bumble bees, native and imported pollinators (honeybees) are on the decline for many reasons, including loss of habitat.
Pollinating animals, including bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles and others, are vital to our delicate ecosystem, supporting terrestrial wildlife, providing healthy watershed, and more. It's not too late to start thinking about enhancing landscapes around homes and in public spaces like churches, parks, schools, and businesses -- anywhere where there is space for a garden large or small. Pollinators positively affect all our lives- let's SAVE them!
Two ways we can do to help pollinators is to plant native plants in our landscapes and use as few pesticides as possible. (See Pollinator Partnership’s “7 Things You Can Do for Pollinators” below)
This Saturday May 30 is the last Saturday of the month, and the Friends of the Cumberland Trail’s Trailhead Nursery will have open hours from Noon until 4 pm. We have a growing inventory of native trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses and sedges available to purchase to support the nursery as well as help increase biodiversity in our landscapes and support pollinators. The Friends is a non-profit organization that supports the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail that runs through this area of Tennessee and provides outstanding scenic vistas as well as a rich diversity of flora and fauna. We DO NOT use systemic pesticides and use only organic pest control as necessary (our milkweeds are not treated with ANY pesticides).
For more information about what you can do to help pollinators, go to http://pollinator.org/7things.htm. For more information about Trailhead Nursery and a list of plants in our inventory, go here: www.trailheadnursery.weebly.com. Trailhead Nursery is located at 54 Miller Cove Road, just 1.9 miles across the Sequatchie County Road off Taft Highway on Signal Mountain.
Proceeds from plant sales go to support the mission of the Friends of the Cumberland Trail to preserve and protect the ecology, history and culture of the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail.
As described by the Cornell Bird Lab, putting up a feeder is an easy way to attract birds. But if you want to attract a wider variety of species, prefer your backyard birds to get a more natural diet, or wish to satisfy more than birds' nutritional needs, consider landscaping your yard—even just a part of it—to be more bird-friendly. Even a small yard can provide vital habitat. All it takes is a little time and effort, all the easier if you already enjoy gardening. The rewards are beautiful birds that add color and music to your life year-round. Many homeowners diligently follow the advice of providing water, bird feeders, and nesting boxes but don't know where to begin to provide natural food, shelter and nesting.
I've done some investigating of the best native plants (because that's what our birds evolved with) to support the birds indigenous to this area. The list is attached. And if you aren't convinced that native plants are the best food source, you should read recent research that counters the one or two studies showing that certain urban birds like Cardinals increase in number where there are invasions of exotic honeysuckles. Not surprisingly, these exotic fruit-bearing shrubs and vines nutrition is out of sync with the seasonal needs of our native birds. Furthermore, in the case of Cardinals, the bright coloration of males, which otherwise signals good health to females may be getting less reliable for cardinals in urban areas, because of the novel food sources available in town. Exotic plants also provide poorer nesting sites and may open the brood to predation, according to many scientific studies.
Spring is an excellent time to start adding bird-friendly and more importantly bird-sustaining native plants to your landscape. Come to our March 27-28 Two Mountain March Wildflower Madness to find out more!
Last week was National Pollinator Week. I'm not sure whether the public noticed this tribute to our wildlife friends who make one out of every three bites of our food possible. Trailhead Nursery is very conscious of these unacknowledged dynamos that pollinate our fruit and vegetable crops almost without notice. We have been focusing this year on growing native perennials that support pollinators, particularly sunflowers and other meadow plants that provide nectar and pollen to honey bees as well as over 4,000 native bees that grace our landscapes. We also avoid using any pesticides that might compromise the health of bees and other wildlife. We're not waiting for the scientific evidence that neonicotinoids and other systemic pesticides are harmful -- we're just not using them!
Our nursery is a great place to observe birds, butterflies (a male Diana Fritilary is pictured below) as well as dragonflies and other critters. Enjoy nature!
There's been a flurry of activity as we make the nursery ready for Sunday's Open House. The weather has been challenging this winter and spring, and plants are still waking up after some unseasonably cold weather.
Stop by if you're in the area to learn more about the Cumberland Seeds Project and restoration programs. Buy some native plants, too, to support our programs. We have plenty of spring wildflowers left in stock as well as native shrubs for sunny to shady settings. For more information about our currently stocked plants, go to the "Offerings" page on this site.
Thanks to a crew of volunteers, we just finished off the second hoop house with greenhouse film. Why is this important? The covering helps to keep uniform temperature and humidity which is essential for propagating plants through the radical temperature changes we realize on the mountain. Even native plants need protection from the elements during early development stages. We will also be able to start propagation earlier in the year and engage in woody propagation -- growing plants from stem and twig cuttings.
Volunteers are critically important to our nursery program. We have plenty of opportunities for volunteers, including boy and girl scouts, service organizations, and master gardeners. Contact us through the Work Days page if you are interested in helping us out.
While the nursery has been under development for almost 2 years, this is the first fully public venue for getting out information about our activities. We have two major projects -- the Cumberland Seeds Project which has been underway since 2010 and Trailhead Nursery, the restoration project to help support the Cumberland Seeds Project by growing out seed collected on the Cumberland Trail. Both projects are activities of the Friends of the Cumberland Trail, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail and Park of the Tennessee State Parks.
The Cumberland Seeds Project is an ambitious effort to collect, catalog and bank seed collected from native species that grow on the Cumberland Trail. It is part of the larger Seeds of Success project of the federal Bureau of Land Management. The Cumberland Plateau and escarpment is a biologically rich and diverse area that needs protection as well as preservation and both the CSP and Trailhead Nursery are designed for that purpose.
The Nursery does sell plants to the public as well as donates plant material to restore and improve other public lands like trailheads and parking areas. One recent project was re-landscaping the parking lot and trailhead of the Three Gorges Trail in Sequatchie County. As for the retail part of the operation, the nursery participates in a limited number of festivals in spring and fall to sell plants for the purpose of supporting its operations and projects. Please review the Events page for more infora