Posts Tagged 'bayscaping'

Arbor Day: Doing Our Part Right in the Inner Harbor

Did you know? National Aquarium’s Waterfront Park is populated entirely with plants native to Maryland!

waterfront plaza

Our goal in maintaining the park, the organization of which follows the principles of conservation landscaping (also known as Bayscaping), is to reduce the impact of pollution felt downtown and improve the health of our local ecosystem.

Here in the city, the trees and other plants of the Waterfront Park provide habitat and refuge for local and migratory birds, insects and other animals that either live in Baltimore permanently or are just passing through. In our Appalachian Highlands planter, we have a variety of trees and shrubs: Red Cedar, Redbud, White Pine, Sassafrass, White Oak, Chestnut Oak, Witch Hazel, Fragrant Sumac, Flowering Dogwood and Red-Panicled Dogwood that provide critical food and shelter for wildlife.

A bloom from one of our dogwood trees.

A bloom from one of our dogwood trees.

The Piedmont planter is dominated by Red Maple, but also includes such trees and shrubs such as Sweetbay Magnolia, Southern and Maple-Leaved Arrowwood, and Serviceberry. Our Coastal Forest planter is home to Loblolly Pine, Marsh Elder, and Inkberry, and in our Salt Marsh planters can be found more Marsh Elder, Groundsel Bush, Swamp Hibiscus and Winterberry. Many of the trees and shrubs on the Plaza produce fruit and berries that are enjoyed throughout the year by birds, including the Serviceberry, Red Chokecherry, Fragrant Sumac, Inkberry and Winterberry. The foliage of these trees provides an environment in which native birds can nest and rear their young.

Our park is a certified wildlife habitat.

Our park is a certified wildlife habitat.

Many of the flowering trees and plants also provide pollen and nectar through the growing seasons for various pollinating birds and insects, and the foliage of many trees is a valuable food source for the larvae of various butterflies and moths. The “leaf litter” underneath the trees generated by years of deciduous accumulation also supports a vast array of insects, spiders and other arthropods. The insects supported here are also a useful food source for the birds and bats that live in and pass through our city!

This thriving environment of native plants has evolved immensely in recent years to support a growing number of native animal wildlife. We hope the community here in Baltimore city can continue to enjoy it for many years to come!

John Seyjagat, the Curator of our Animal Planet Australia exhibit, also manages the development and maintenance of our exterior parks. To learn more about John, click below: 

Blog-Header-JohnSeyjagat

A Blue View: Bayscaping!

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 pm as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

April 3, 2013: Bayscaping

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John discuss the importance
of conservation-minded landscaping!

For many of us, spring means we can get our hands dirty. We bring out the mowers and the yard tools, head to the nurseries to buy seeds or plants for the garden, and enjoy spending our weekends outdoors working in the yard.

Increasingly in our region, a conservation-minded landscaping trend is taking hold. Sometimes called “bayscaping” here in the Mid-Atlantic, conservation landscaping incorporates sustainable strategies. The goal is to create an outdoor environment that reduces pollution and helps combat the contaminants that run into the Chesapeake Bay every day.

According to Blue Water Baltimore, Americans use 5 million tons of fertilizer and more than 70 million pounds of pesticides every year. Many times, these treatments are over-applied or applied at the wrong time, and they run off into our waterways.

To minimize the use of these types of garden treatments, one of the first things you can do is eliminate invasive plant species and instead incorporate native plants into your yard. Native plants are those that are naturally present in your region, while non-native species have been brought to the region at some point in history. Because native plants are uniquely adapted to a particular region, they don’t require as much water, fertilizer, or pesticides to be healthy. If you do find it necessary to use pesticides in your yard, first try alternatives, such as horticultural soaps. Pesticides not only kill the pests, but they harm other inhabitants of your yard as well.

Another key goal of bayscaping is the establishment of your green space as a dynamic wildlife habitat. According to the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council, minimizing the amount of lawn and replacing it with layers of plants—including trees, shrubs, and perennials—make yards wildlife friendly by providing a variety of shelter. Less lawn also means less mowing, which is another environmental plus. It’s also important to provide year-round water and food sources for your yard inhabitants.

Incorporating bayscaping strategies may mean that your yard doesn’t look like your neighbor’s, but that’s not a bad thing. Take the opportunity to educate them about sustainable landscaping practices. You may start a neighborhood trend that the Chesapeake Bay will thank you for!

Once your yard is bayscaped, there are several certification programs that will validate your conservation efforts. To achieve Bay-Wise certification, a Master Gardener will assess your property and give your yard a score. You can also create a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat by providing appropriate shelter, food, and water for the animals in your yard!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Native Garden Planting at Pier 6 Pavilion

The National Aquarium, in partnership with Rams Head and the Pier 6 Concert Pavilion, recently converted an unused area of turf on the western slope of the pavilion into a native plant garden!

Before and after

This new garden will help filter runoff and provide food and habitat for local pollinators and birds, as well as educate concert-goers on how beautiful and carefree a bay-friendly garden can be. Kyle Muellhauser, owner of Rams Head and a big supporter of the National Aquarium, approached our Conservation team and asked if we would be interested in using the space for an educational display. As we discussed ideas, we focused on something that would be attractive to visitors and also could inspire them to look at their own yards in a new way.

By planting native plants at home, you are not only providing food and habitat for wildlife, you are also decreasing the amount of fertilizer, water, and time needed to create and maintain an attractive yard. We chose native, drought-tolerant plants that would add interest to the site and would need little long-term care. Included in the list of plants were black-eyed susans, Christmas ferns, tickseed, blazing stars, American holly, joe-pye weed, and bee balm.

Two staff horticulturists took the lead on the project and designed the garden. They used similar plants and ideas from our Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Waterfront Park, a much more extensive version of a Maryland native garden. By choosing species that are native to this area and are proven to thrive in downtown Baltimore, we can be assured that this new garden will continue to educate visitors for years to come. The next time you attend a concert at the Pier 6 Concert Pavilion, don’t forget to check out the garden to see what is in bloom and get inspired to create your own bay-friendly garden. Click here to get started with ideas!

The crew!

Simple Action: Share your yard with wildlife

Today’s Simple Action is to share your yard with wildlife.

Spring has arrived, and for many, yard maintainance and gardening has been added to the weekly to-do lists. There are very simple things you can do in your yard that will make a world of difference for our environment and wildlife.

 Americans directly apply 70 million pounds of pesticides to home lawns and gardens each year and, in so doing, kill birds and other wildlife and pollute our precious water resources. Instead of using pesticides, control insects using natural controls.

Also, plant native trees and shrubs because they use less fertilizer. Landscaping with natives, commonly referred to as “bayscaping,” also provides better food and shelter for wildlife, and requires less maintenance. These plants are adapted to local soil, rainfall and temperature conditions, and have developed natural defenses to many insects and diseases. Because of these traits, native plants will grow with minimal use of water, fertilizers and pesticides. 

Continue reading ‘Simple Action: Share your yard with wildlife’


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