Why the water is running and what those stalks are

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 29, 2019

Work never seems to end at Hurley Park, and being short staffed has made things quite interesting. Most recently we have had work done on the arbor, bridges and even plantings. Because of the work, we have had a few questions come in and I decided it was time for another Q&A.

Here are some of the most prominent questions we have received lately:

Question: Why is the drinking fountain cut off and if you cut them off for the winter, why haven’t you cut off the pond fountain?

Answer: Good question and I am glad you asked. The water fountains are cut off every year right before a major frost. Some of the drinking fountains are touted as frost free/resistant, but that is not always the case. To prevent costly damages, we shut off the drinking fountains before a major freeze, and we will not turn them on again until next spring after the last frost date.

We also do this with our irrigation. We bleed off the lines, which is just another way of saying that we will drain the water from the pipes to prevent them from bursting. The pond fountain stays on because moving water tends to not freeze fully. We want to dissuade anyone from trying to get onto the pond ice when we do have freezing temperatures. It also helps aerate the pond, improve pond health, and reduce noxious fumes when the organic matter in the pond begins to break down.

Question: What are those tall stalks in the gardens with the weird seed heads, and why haven’t you cut all of the dead seed heads down?

Answer: This is really a two-part question with two different answers. The first is the Formosa lily seed head and stalk. The beautiful white trumpet-shaped flowers that our visitors love in the summer is what gives way to the 6-foot tall seed head and stalks that we have in the garden right now. They put out a massive amount of seeds, and we have been removing some of them lately due to the replanting of one of the gardens.

To give an idea of how many seeds you can get from a small cluster of three to five seed heads, I have filled up a solo cup (16 oz.) with just one cluster. The second part of the question is that many of the perennial flowers have nutritious seeds for our wildlife and many times, the plant debris protects beneficial insects for next year. We do not typically remove the seed heads until all of the seeds are devoured or have fallen to help our wildlife during the fall and winter months.

Question: I have seen that you are planting some new plants. What are they, and why are you planting now instead of spring?

Answer: Recently, we installed some plants that are replacements in the Elizabeth Taylor Garden. Plants cannot last forever and, unfortunately, in this garden, we lost quite a few. To remedy the situation, we are trying to install many of the ones we have lost. Next year should have a much fuller plant bed. The reason we are planting in the fall is that it is one of the best times to plant.

The plants do not have to put much energy into growing leaves, flowers and fruit, and will concentrate on producing roots. This makes the plant stronger and can withstand fluctuations of weather much better than ones started in the spring. Many perennials, trees and shrubs do better when planted in the fall or when dormant. Annuals are treated differently and are usually planted in the spring.

As always, we appreciate the public’s interest in Hurley Park and if you have any questions, you can email, call, or contact us on social media. For more information about Hurley Park, please visit www.salisburync.gov/HurleyPark, like us on Facebook and Instagram, or call us at 704-638-4459.