Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More pictures were taken on the evening of Monday, Jun 8th. It was before dark, but there was enough light to make the horsemint look like it was glowing. There was even a rabbit hiding amongst the wildflowers thinking he was someplace unseen.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Establishing and Maintaining the Vaughan Elementary Wildflower Meadow


The big meadow at Vaughan Elementary was originally established in 1996 by volunteers, teachers and students. In 2001, it was beginning to get overgrown with Johnsongrass, so with the help from the City of Allen Parks and Recreation Department, we started over by killing the meadow over the summer and then mowed and tilled the soil to prepare it for re-seeding that fall. The flowers grew with abundance and yet a few years later, the Johnsongrass was crowding out the native plants and spring flowers. So, in the summer of 2008, the City of Allen Parks and Recreation staff helped again and in the fall we were able to start with a clean slate.

It was very expensive to purchase the wildflower seeds in 2001, so we asked for assistance from the Collin County Master Gardeners, the Allen Garden Club, a local wholesale nursery and the wonderful people at Garden Web - Texas Gardening. We received enough seed to reseed the big meadow through donations from these wonderful organizations and generous gardeners across Texas.

The students in the Vaughan Environmental Club went out to the meadow on a sunny afternoon in late September to spread the wildflower seed. They started by lining up along the fence with their cups of seed and gently sprinkled it on the bare soil as they walked across the meadow. Then they all came back from more seed and went across perpendicular to the first pass. There was still seed, so we distributed the remaining seed and they went any direction to spread the seed. We had them walk over the meadow to make sure that seed made good contact with the soil. Then we waited . . .

Spring came and bluebonnets, Missouri primrose and other early spring wildflowers started to appear. Some people were concerned since they were not in close proximity to each other and scattered across the meadow. Then more flowers such as prickly poppy started to bloom, but still not a solid mass of color like we were expecting. We told them to be patient. We had a lot of rain and we knew that soon we would see plenty of color. Then in mid-May it happened. The blanket flowers burst open with its bright orange, yellow and red. Coreopsis, Drummond's phlox, horsemint, basket flower and other colorful blooms opened to the sunshine. Our patience had paid off. The meadow was alive again and buzzing with bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.

Take a look at these photos taken today. It was a little windy, but you can still see the colorful flowers in the big meadow.


The students at Vaughan Elementary have a unique situation being located directly across the street from a greenbelt where Cottonwood Creek flows and the wooded area along the creek offers plenty of opportunity to explore on the nature trails. In 1996, one of the teachers at Vaughan Elementary helped develop the Vaughan Elementary nature trails. These are maintained annually with the help of the Vaughan Environmental Club, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who maintain the trails by clearing brush to keep the trails open for the students. There is an upper trail that winds through an area high above the creek and there is a lower trail that follows the banks of the creek.

The entrance to the Vaughan Nature Trails needed something to draw attention of the students. The students from the Vaughan Environmental Club decided to spread wildflower seed along the area on either side of the trail entrance. Keep Allen Beautiful, a city board that promotes beautification projects, recycling, and litter control projects across Allen, provided the Wildflower Area signs. A Boy Scout who did his Eagle Project which helped clear the trails also provided the stones that outline the meadow. It took a few years for the seed to finally sprout, but this year was an exceptional year for the entrance to the nature trail. There is a lot of blanket flower, Mexican hat, coreopsis and other wildflowers blooming and welcoming people to explore the wonders of nature on the trails.