NKE’s Green Apple Day of Service 2013

Did you know that there is one day every year across the entire globe during which volunteers help make schools greener? This year’s Green Apple Day of Service was Saturday, Sept. 28, and here at Netherwood Knoll Elementary we again dedicated this day to making progress on our Arboretum. The gorgeous morning was more like summer than fall, and a great group of parents, NKE students and the always-energetic Principal Dan Rikli spent the morning filling up our new raised beds with beautiful dirt and doing more planting. Here are a few photos from the morning. THANK YOU to our volunteers! You did a great job! (You can see an interactive map of all the Green Apple Day of Service projects, from Oregon, Wis., to Africa to India to Australia, here.)

Big thanks go out to now-retired Oregon HS biology teacher Jack Mitchell for donating the beautiful hostas we planted.

Big thanks go out to now-retired Oregon HS biology teacher Jack Mitchell for donating the beautiful hostas we planted.

Those working hard at digging included our principal, Dan Rikli.

Those working hard at digging included our principal, Dan Rikli.

Group in weeds

NKE students digging hosta holes

Elizabeth Watering

Elephant Watering Can

HostasPlanted

FAQ on the NKE Arboretum Pond, Part I

Matt Seeliger NKE pond liner

Matt Seeliger works on pond construction in August 2013.

We’ve been fielding tons of questions about the new pond in the NKE Arboretum, so we asked our contractor, Matt Seeliger of Copper Koi Designs LLC, for some answers to our FAQ. Here they are:

Q: How deep is the pond?
A: The deepest point of the pond is slightly less than 3 feet. There are various plant shelves that run around the pond at alternating depths between 3 inches to 24 inches deep. The varying depths of the shelves are designed to accommodate a variety of plant species. For example, water lilies grow up from the very bottom of the pond, while other plants, such as irises, like to just get their feet wet.

Q: Can we have fish?
A: Absolutely. Many varieties of fresh water fish could live in this pond. Japanese koi and fancy goldfish are popular choices with many homeowners who have backyard ponds. Our plan is to put around a dozen small common goldfish in this year. Once the pond habitat has been established, it will be more suitable for larger and more attractive fish.

Q: Will fish die in the pond in winter?
A: With proper care the fish can live in the pond all winter. Because fish are poikilotherms, their metabolic rate is based on the temperature of the water. Therefore, they will require less food and oxygen during the coldest winter months and can survive without the pumps circulating the water. Also, the pond is unlikely to freeze more than 14 inches thick, so there will be plenty of water for the fish to survive beneath the ice.

 

NKE Pond completed

Q: Do we have to feed them?
A: No. Adding fish slowly to the pond allows the microcosmic ecosystem to develop and will provide naturally occurring food sources such as zooplankton, phytoplankton and benthic invertebrates. Hand feeding the fish can be detrimental to the pond system and to the fish themselves and is therefore not advised. Excess food can cause an overload of nitrogen, which will result in fish death and excess fish waste, which can cause unnecessary algae growth.

Q: Will we have other animals?
A: Yes, I plan to bring in frog eggs next spring so that the kids can watch them develop into tadpoles! Ponds naturally attract a wide variety of birds and insect species, too.

(Look for Part II of the Q&A soon)

Major NKE Arb Progress!

As we start another school year (already!) I thought it would be great to update everyone on what’s going on the NKE Arboretum lately. Our biggest news is that our stream/pond construction is almost done! With generous donations from the Oregon Area Educational Foundation, Oregon Rotary, Alliant Energy, Stoughton Hospital, school families and more, we were able to raise the $6,000 necessary to build this area. We’ll wait to post pond pics until the big reveal, but here’s a sneak peek of the stream area:

Thanks to Jack Mitchell for donating the hakonechloa grass and to Cherith Bruckner for the hostas alongside our stream. It's ready for water!

Thanks to Jack Mitchell for donating the hakonechloa grass and to Cherith Bruckner for the hostas alongside our stream. It’s ready for water!

The rest of the Arboretum has been getting a general sprucing up over the summer. Here are a few scenes from the Arb lately:

The stony area between the pavers and the log is now a new drainage system that will direct water during heavy rainfalls right into the big drain (instead of into school). Both the variegated hibiscus and the glider bench are memorials that now have a nice setting overlooking the new pond/waterfall area.

The stony area between the pavers and the log is now a new drainage system that will direct water during heavy rainfalls right into the big drain (instead of into school). Both the variegated hydrangea and the glider bench are memorials that now have a nice setting overlooking the new pond/waterfall area.

 

The berm adjacent to the fossil area has been moved over to give the area more room, and the rocks create a spiral labyrinth. Each rock in the spiral has some sort of fossil!

The berm adjacent to the fossil area has been moved over to give the area more room, and the rocks create a spiral labyrinth. Each rock in the spiral has some sort of fossil!

 

Extra pavers from last year's entryway project were used to create areas amid the gardens for our four art easels.

Extra pavers from last year’s entryway project were used to create areas amid the gardens for our four art easels.

 

Our beautiful shade garden now has a nice stone path leading to the closet.

Our beautiful shade garden now has a nice stone path leading to the closet.

 

The garden area has been weeded, and the plants are bearing tons of produce! More on that in a future post...

The garden area has been weeded, and the plants are bearing tons of produce! More on that in a future post…

 

Many areas have been spruced up with mulch. Now to figure out what to do with that huge wall...

Many areas have been spruced up with mulch. Now to figure out what to do with that huge wall…

We are always looking for more people to get involved! Whether you have a half hour here and there to pull weeds or you’d be willing to take on a specific project, let us know! If you’d like to make a donation, you can get more info on our wish list or on how to donate.

 

 

 

 

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