City View and St. Matt’s tag-team Council Creek!

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteers Lauren McKenna and Nicole Poletto and SOLVE Green Team Coordinator Meghan Ballard

City View Charter 7th and 8th grade/ St. Matt’s 6th grade @ Ryland Park 11/09/2012

Happy First Frost!  And what a welcome the frost got when City View Charter School AND St. Matthew’s  still showed up to plant native trees and shrubs along Council Creek.  Despite the fall chill, everyone seemed to enjoy working — and playing.

Sixth graders  seventh graders, eight graders, teachers and parents all joined the fun where we planted about 60 native willows, ash, ponderosa pines, Douglas spirea and ninebark and added mulch around each.  This diversity of flora will not only make Council Creek look great and help rid of the invasive Reed Canarygrass there; they will also make it healthier by filtering out urban runoff the, providing ideal wildlife habitat and absorbing toxins and pollutants before they enter the creek.

ALTERNATE arrangment

OPPOSITE arrangement

Students got to plant, add mulch to newly the newly planted, learn about riparian (river “bankside“) concepts though a metaphors game and also learn some plant identification skills.  One of the most important things to remember when doing plant ID is that you cannot ONLY look at leaves…. especially if a plant loses them in winter!  One trick is to look at leaf or bud arrangement on the stem.  Are they right across from each other?  Then it’s opposite.  Do they alternate in a zig-zag pattern?  Then it’s alternate.  If they encircle the stem, it’s whorled.

Our friends SAM ‘n’ TED also help with plant ID.  There are many alternately arranged plants, but only 6 opposite:

S nowberry

A sh

M aple (like Big Leaf and Vine Maples)

T winberry

E lderberry

D ogwood

We also talked about lenticels (they look like polka-dots, see the photos), which are pores in the bark that allow for gas exchange!  Trees like Oregon Ash and Red Alder have great big, visible lenticels that allow them to to thrive in degraded soil.

After learning about native plants, students also wrote about and drew some of their favorites, like the Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)and the Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia).

Pacific Ninebark drawing by student!

Oregon Ash

O kay in bad dirt/soil

R eally cool!

E nergy comes from air and sunlight

G reen leaflets

O range-brown lenticels

N ative plant of Oregon

A  type of opposite leaf arrangement

S mall now

H uge later

~ St. Matthew’s student

After a morning of hard work, the St. Matthew’s students and their teacher Mrs. Karper taught the students from City View Charter a song.  Everyone also got to say one word about their day at Council Creek.  Some said….




Cold hands

Cold feet

Learned a lot

Happy to help



SOLVE and Council Creek are also very grateful for your hard work and energy!  Thank you City View Charter and St. Matthew’s School for coming out to help the creek become a healthy ecosystem!

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