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Plant of the Week: Shadbush

Landscape Architectural Planner shares his Concepts - Plants with Planning!


Watershed planning is relevant throughout the world. Nile, Danube and Colorado River watershed planning are among the most known.

Hurricane Katrina focused attention on politics and poor civil engineering design but is also an example of the effects of lax watershed planning. The hurricane passed the city quickly and devastating flooding occurred from the inland rainfall. New Orleans, as the terminus point of Mississippi watershed, suffered unnecessarily. 

Smaller watersheds and sub watersheds are far easier to refine, define and plan. But what is a watershed? "That area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community" are the words of John Wesley Powell. This heroic Civil War veteran is a man of inspiration to me on many levels. Besides defining our present subject, his filed work provides a base for sound land planning. Brave in the field as well this single armed wounded warrior navigated the Green, Colorado Rivers and was the first recorded human to ride a watercraft through the Grand Canyon. Our New England ancestors recognized the aspects he mentioned when choosing community locations 

March 21st is recognized as the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Until you are at the Equator days are measured as half way to their longest which occurs on June 21 having lengthened from their shortest. In the Southern Hemisphere it is the same as Northern September 21. A happy day for many of the early North American settlers in part, because of the arrival of buds and leaflets on the Shadbush. 

The Amelanchier family roots can be traced to Europe’s flora gene pool. Northeast settlers quickly named it the Shad Bush. Edible berries were the first native species available as winter faded and their blooms occurred at the same time the Shad fish began its breeding migration from the sea to the rivers, their roe and meat saved many a European settler as they had for generations of Indians. The Cree people worshiped the plant and George Washington planted a garden of them at Mount Vernon. Australia has a commercial fruit processing entity based on the local varieties and Asian’s have used distilled yield for fun and dye for centuries. 

One of the smallest of over 2,500 watersheds in the United States is called the Byram River Watershed. Comprising a total of less than 30 square miles it was recognized as a blessed asset by the Munsee’s and both the original Dutch and later British settlers. Part of it comprises a small part of the New York and Connecticut border. That border was defined last by a surveyors’ error defining Colonial boundaries. Prior to that politically gerrymandered settlement at least six violent conflicts resulted in loss of life. Now nearly 300 years later residents still suffer from political institutional incompetence. While armed conflict is a distant part of history lives have been lost and altered there recently. 

Following chapters of this textbook uses this small and potentially easily managed watershed as a path to follow at the local level to return real planning as practiced by prior generations worldwide. Add in amazing technological advances and solutions are not only available but implementable rapidly and inexpensively. 

Shadbush planted now, will yield delicious berries soon. Taller varieties yield their amazing fruit high enough to escape browsing by rabbits and deer. Add in their wonderful hope inspiring blooms and experience tasteful, beautiful history. 

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By River Parks Foundation, Peter F. Alexander LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT PLANNER A traditional practicing professional who designs and accomplishes projects from Perennial Gardens to Regional Planning. Inspired by Norman Newton, Peter Goldmark and Michael Everett he is dedicated to restore Landscape Architecture as the primary effort by mankind to plan for the future.

Insisting on inclusion of fun and positive conclusions for all is the base. Copies of the textbook can be made available by contacting pfalexla@gmail.com a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the River Parks Foundation.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

ctswampdoc March 22, 2012 at 01:24 AM
What does all this watershed talk have to do with the Plant of the Week - shad bush????? Focus on the plant of the week or get a different column.
Peter F. Alexander March 22, 2012 at 01:03 PM
My point. Plants are not just "parsley 'round the pig" but should be thought of as part of our environment.

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