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and the only expense we incurred was a little gas for the car . . . there is a lot of free green fun to be had in and about Garland

Adventure One:  Redhill Park, Garland Texas on a Soggy Wednesday March 4, 2015

 

Soon to be a field of Bluebonnets at Rosehill Park - Country Club Road near Rowlett Road in south Garland

Another wonderful soggy day in the DFW area.  Our trees are loving it! And so are the wildflowers.  Speaking of wild flowers, if you or your friends are among those many Texans who are obsessed with Texas Bluebonnet photo ops with your children and grandchildren, there will soon be several acres with hundreds of thousands of them right here in Garland, just waiting for your spring 2015 collection of photos at Rosehill park--and what better background than a swath of Blackland Prairie.  It's really going to be a beautiful sight.  First from the road Country Club Road inland back in the direction of woods there is a swath of land about a quarter mile long and a city block deep there that will be a deep carpet of blue in a few weeks.  Then another ribbon of land stretches along that same length back to the woods.  That land contains grasses and plants native to the Blackland Prairie. 

 

Texas Ecoregions:  Blackland Prairie is Brown Area #32

Today Margie and I went in search of two locations that we've heard are examples of the Blackland Prairie right here in Garland.  In case you don't know, the Blackland Prairie is an area that once stretched from the Red River on the north southwesterly to San Antonio and included most of the DFW area.  Today estimates indicate that less than one percent of the Blackland Prairie remains--having succumbed to heavy agriculture and urbanization.  This loss of native plants and habitat is substantial considering the area covers approximately 19,400 square miles.  It was exciting to see this wide swath of Blackland Prairie here in Garland--made all the more exciting since Margie and I were standing out in thunder and rain, the tallest objects in the middle of a prairie.  The thunder got fairly close so we returned to the car, but not before I took a few photos.  Also we didn't want to walk too deeply into the prairie because we couldn't see any clearly defined trails and we did not want to disturb the plants.  We'll return in drier weather to see if there is some clearly defined entrance to this area with trails.

Rosehill Blackland Prairie - (I think this is a clump of cane bluestem--you tell me if I've guessed correctly.)

 

Rosehill Blackland Prairie (as viewed from the Bluebonnet strip)

 

Here is Margie as we returned to where the car was parked (she was trying to lower her lightening profile)--today was not the day for the faint of heart to be walking about a prairie.  I'm grateful for adventuresome friends like Margie who are willing to go on crazy spontaneous trips to visit the unknown with me.  Gene, Margie's husband, who is known affectionately to me as "Mr. Margie" sometimes goes with us, but today was a little too soggy for him and he stayed home with his books and inventions.

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 Adventure Two: Spring Creek Forest Preserve 1770 Holford Rd, Garland, TX 75044 (map)

From Rosehill we drove northwest to Spring Creek Forest Preserve.  This is a very special place--not only in Garland, not only in the state, but also in the world. Holford Road splits this preserve into two parts and there is an entrance and parking area on the west side of the road and also an entrance on the east side of the road.  These two entrances are not directly across from each other and if you are driving too fast, you are likely to miss both of them.  The side of the preserve on the east has a large pavilion and appears to be more developed as a park with picnic areas.  The side of the preserve on the west is wilder and more natural although it does feature some benches.  Today Margie and I tromped/slushed around down the muddy trails of the more untamed side of the preserve.  We did drive into the eastern side as we were leaving the area, but it was raining with such enthusiasm by that time that we declined to get out of the car.

The Spring Creek Forest Preserve contains a virgin forest that is extremely rare to find in any urban area in the world. A virgin forest is a forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance and thereby exhibits unique ecological features and might be classified as a climax community (a historic term that expressed a biological community of plants and animals and fungi which, through the process of ecological succession the development of vegetation in an area over time, had reached a steady state. This equilibrium was thought to occur because the climax community is composed of species best adapted to average conditions in that area.) Old-growth forests or virgin forests are often biologically diverse, and home to many rare species, threatened species, and endangered species of plants and animals. 1988, Dallas County and the State of Texas purchased 69 acres of the land to set aside as the Spring Creek Forest Preserve. The land was given to Garland for maintenance. Since 1987, the City of Garland and the Preservation Society for Spring Creek Forest are responsible for maintaining the nature trails within the Preserve.  It is a very special place. 

This preserve also features a gentle, wide spring water stream that flows over a bed of solid limestone. The force of the water has cut cliffs from the surrounding Austin Chalk. The towering 20- to 40-foot-tall (6 to 12 m) cliffs contain Cretaceous fossils dated at 87 million years old, a combination primarily found only in Garland.

The entire length of Spring Creek, is spring fed at a constant 72°F. The swift flowing water varies in depth between one and six feet and is about 20 feet wide. It has never run dry--even in years of extreme drought. The water is so clear that one can see the native Longear Sunfish gliding along against the white, limestone bottom. It is this abundant water supply that has allowed the forest to survive for centuries.  This place is indeed a very precious natural location on our planet.  And to think:  This is our neighborhood!  This is Garland and one more reason why I love Garland green and want to continue to grow it in that direction.

 

Margie standing beside a small demonstration garden of a Blackland Prairie.

Adjacent to the parking lot at the  Spring Creek Forest Preserve there is a small demonstration garden of a Blackland Prairie.  In addition to native grasses, shrubs and plants such as the Yucca, it also contains two trees. I have no idea what these trees are and I'm counting on someone to enlighten me.  I don't think I've ever seen one before  The branches are somewhat like that of a willow. This demonstration garden of a Blackland Prairie is similar to the one that we will be installing at the Garland Community Garden in a few weeks.  However, we don't plan to have trees in our plot.  The one shown above was created by the Garland branch of the Native Plant Society of Texas.  [I don't know if the Garland Branch is active or not.  Their website states they have no meeting scheduled for 2015.]  However, the Native Plant Society of Texas is still quite viable.

 

March 4, 2015 - Starting out down the trail into the Spring Creek Forest Preserve--perhaps the land of Hobbits and fairies, a few gnomes and perhaps a troll or two?

 

 

 March 4, 2015 - Beside the trail in Spring Creek Forest Preserve - What are these berries and are they edible?

 

March 4, 2015 - The beautiful Spring Creek.

March 4, 2015 - Another View of beautiful Spring Creek

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