Friday, January 23, 2009

Rob Fleming Park - one of the best

This is one of my favorite parks even though it is so young with mostly child and teen-bopper trees. I am going to take you on a virtual tour of this park. It isn't one you can photograph with just a few photos. We have to walk through it for various reasons, to understand it. First we park in the large parking lot. There are two options, but for the park itself, park from the Gosling end. The first thing you will notice is no doubt the pavilion. It is fashioned in typical Texas style with stone. I love this place! The photos are larger than presented within the blog, so you can click on any of them to see something larger. This pavilion, like the others in The Woodlands parks system, can be reserved electronically at the parks and recreation website - click here if you wish to reserve it: Reservations for Pavilions. When approaching the pavilion, on your left will be a number of small pines and other trees clustered together as a forest. The pines will grow into some sizable trees within the next ten years. Some of the others will lag behind. Behind those trees is the new elementary school currently under construction. As you walk further, you enter the kids play area. And discover along the way one of the most fascinating exhibits in The Woodlands. This is my kind of display!!!! It is the tree stump cross section (constructed of concrete) of a tree born in 1510. It is not real and fabricated with a theme of Texas history. Selected years are annotated on the tree's bark rings. As you know, one bark ring equates to one growth year. Of course I did not count these. That would be a good job for a young person to do - to verify to himself that this fabricated tree has that many rings! Now we walk towards the back of the pavilion to see the green grass field and continue to view the bluebonnet field behind it. Along the way on the sidewalk, we turn to look back at the pavilion with a tortoise in the scene.
Green field

Bluebonnet field. We will add another photo later when they bloom
We continue to follow the walking path towards the west into another planted tree area where we find picnic tables and charcoal grills. This one has two tables, convenient for a large family or two families picnicking together. As we continue west, we find the pond with a fountain. Like a number of other Woodlands parks, the pond has the tranquil sound of flowing water. Reedy vegetation planted along the pond in the future will provide a shoreline similar to Reedy Pond, and will produce a fish friendly ecology. The native rock is also appreciated here. One gets the same feel of Texas as in the pavilion. Note that the park is also dog friendly, that is, poop bags are provided on site. Please use them when you bring your dog! As we walk to the western end of the pond, we see the native stone, a pier and places to hang out. Walking on past the pond we enter a woody area of native trees, with gardening enhancements to enjoy. There are park benches to rest weary feet. This is another place to hand out. We look back and can see the water fountain on the pond. Passing out of the woods, we enter a parking area on the east side where the Aquatic Center is located. We will save this for a future article.
Playground at the Aquatic Center
Now we return to where we parked, on the street side of the park. Notice across the street is where the new YMCA will be built. The sign says early 2009 but no construction has started, so we will have to wait a little longer before we see this facility available. To our right, we come upon more tree plantings. I notice a variety of trees here, something dear to my heart. We also make note that directly across from the parking lot where we started, is the trail head for a long walk in the natural forest. This will be another future article. So our tour is complete. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did when I photographed it.
Getting there: From I45, take Woodlands Parkway exit and go west until you reach Gosling (about 4 miles), then take a left south on Gosling; cross the Spring Creek bridge and immediately afterward take a right turn.
From anywhere on Gosling, turn just south of the Spring Creek bridge onto Creekside Forest Dr. Take the first right of the round-about and you will see the park on your left. From Kuykendahl, turn east (if you are heading south, away from The Woodlands, that is a left) on Creekside Forest Drive. Follow it until you reach the park on the right. You cannot find the park on Google yet.
GPS coords: 30.14344, -95.51186
On Creekside Forest Dr

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Arbor Day 2009 in The Woodlands is the time to plant a tree

Arbor day is right around the corner, January 31st, from 10AM to 2PM. Here in The Woodlands, we will have the opportunity to acquire free seedlings and add to our forest, whether it be in our yard or in a green area. Yes, some people and some groups will plant along the paths or in parks where the seedlings are not likely to be mowed down. If you do that, I advise to put a bright ribbon on the seedling to show it is not a weed. This year we lost many trees to Hurricane Ike. If we plant many trees on Arbor Day, we can at least do our part to compensate somewhat for that damage. Seedlings will be available at Rob Flemming Park in the Village of Creekside Park near the Gosling entrance to the village. There is always an excellent variety of trees offered. Tree seedlings includes Bald Cypress, Drummond Maple, Eastern Redbud, Elm Cedar, Flowering Dogwood, Live Oak, Loblolly Pine, Nuttall Oak, River Birch, Sweetbay Magnolia, Southern Crabapple, and Southern Wax Myrtle. In addition to receiving free tree seedlings, guests may register at the event to win one of 35, seven-gallon native trees. Bald Cypress does well almost anywhere and loves the water. River Birch is one of my favorites! It has beautiful peeling bark, great color in the fall and is a lovely medium sized tree. The Dogwood is the princess of the forest with its white blossoms in the spring. Loblolly Pine is not the native pine tree of our forests. It is a faster growing impostor that the logging companies have used. Nevertheless, it makes into a pretty tree. If you are going to plant them, I suggest doing so densely in a sunny area. One day, I hope the native Long Leaf Pine will be distributed at these events. Everyone loves the brilliant red blooms of the Redbud. The Magnolia is a great tree for the south with it's white blossoms in the summer and it will spread out well for lots of shade many years into the future. The fast growing Wax Myrtle is used to provide year-long privacy between neighbors and is a good blocker of lights in the winter. It is a rather small tree that spreads out well. Given plenty of sun, the evergreen Live Oak can grow to be a huge tree that spreads out well. I know someone here who planted three of them in his front yard as seedlings, and today, his entire yard is shade. The Nuttall Oak is a good oak to have, producing acorns, having nice yellow leaves in the fall and will grow very large. Cedar Elm is a hardy good tree to plant. It produces many seeds which can be a pain on the driveway. It also sheds its leaves early in the fall.

All of these trees need water for the first two years. I would plant them in a mixture of soil and a water holding material down below the roots and with regular mulched dirt on the surface.

The 2009 Rainbow trout release in Burroughs Park is upon us

Just like 2008, the next release of 2000 trout in Burroughs Park is approaching. This year it will be January 16th, 2009. Each year Texas residents are invited to fish for these rainbow trout with lures. You may keep five. Children under the age of 16 do not need a fishing license. Although those fishing off of the bank in a state park are also exempt from needing a license to harvest fish, a fishing license IS required for this adventure. Burroughs Park is not a state park, so folks, bring one if you are over 16. Most are rather small fish but can be fun to catch.

Related links and references:
Burroughs Park
Record trout caught at Burroughs