Landscape Gardening the Scuppernong Trail

I want to reveal the natural beauty of the landscape at the Scuppernong Springs and hope to inspire a peaceful and harmonious mental state in all who pass thru.  By cutting down curtains of buckthorn and cattail, I’m deepening the field of vision creating unique perspectives, both narrow and broad, that showcase the lay of the land.  Water percolates through the undulating glacial moraines to the east, springing forth in the valley at the headwaters of the Scuppernong River, and flows west into the prairie.  The Springs are a unique, “world class”, convergence of topographies and ecosystems.

Saturday, September 14, was a beautiful day to be out in the Kettle Moraine (hmmm, are those chemtrails?)

IMG_0586 IMG_0588

Amanda Prange and Melanie Kapinos have organized volunteer workdays in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest that include a wide variety of activities.  Here is the latest schedule:

Volunteer Opportunities Sept 2013

I joined the seed gathering party at Paradise Springs and we started collecting in the prairie just west of the Gotten cabin, which is astonishingly beautiful! Amanda informed me that there are two sand prairies, one a half mile from forest headquarters and another off Piper Road, that are almost ready for seed collecting and I’m going to check these places out next week. Below, Amanda explains what seeds to gather and how to do it.


Before joining the seed gathering, I stopped at The Springs and visited the location shown in blue below, to collect, and dispose of, all the american burnweed seed heads that were just beginning to release.


I must confess, that I lacked the patience and skill required to harvest seeds from the prairie that day and didn’t stay long.  I was chomp’in at the bit to return to the area marked above to cut buckthorn and open up the views down to the river valley from this stretch of the trail. Here is what it looked like before I started.


And after…

It was a busy day at the Springs and I really enjoyed meeting Kevin and Rachael, first time visitors, at the marl pit bridge.



On my customary evening stroll my path converged with a family including two beautiful and interested young people, and they warmed my heart. Later, back at the marl pit bridge I ran into Michael and Karen, who live nearby and subscribe to this post, and we had an excellent time talking and trying to photograph sphinx moths in the fading light. I encouraged them to do a guest post!



Check out Michael’s sphinx moth pictures!

Sphinx Moth at Dusk 1

Sphinx Moth at Dusk 2



See you at The Springs!

Paradise Springs

Over the past few months we have tried to deepen our knowledge of the Scuppernong River watershed and offer you the opportunity to do the same via our posts at this site. Thanks again for taking the journey with us! I have been visiting Paradise Springs for over 30 years and I’ll never forget the mind altering experiences I had there hanging out with friends and learning to jam on my guitar. After attending an Oak Opening Workshop at DNR Forest Headquarters in the morning, I hiked Paradise Springs Creek from its source at Paradise Springs, across the prairie, to where it joins the Scuppernong River.

It was standing room only at the Oak Opening Workshop thanks to the hard work and planning of Amanda Prange, Matt Zine and Don Dane, and the support and participation of The Kettle Moraine Land Trust, the WDNR, the Tallgrass Prairie & Oak Savanna Fire Science Consortium, The Nature Conservancy, The Waukesha County Land Conservancy, the Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, Inc and Joy Wolf, UW Parkside. There were many land restoration professionals there as well, but most of the audience consisted of private land owners who are actively working to restore their own oak savannas.

Lindsay and I were honored to jointly receive the Land Steward of the Year Award from the Oak Savanna Alliance for our work at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.  Barb Holtz, who won the award last year, passed the acorn to us to carry, or maybe bury, until next year.

By the time the workshop was over, the rain had let up and I made my way to Paradise Springs, which is on Hwy N just north of Hwy 59.

Paradise Springs has a colorful history reminding us of the enduring allure of a gushing spring. Let’s take a look.

The water was put to many uses including a power generation.


A stream gaging station was installed here around the same time as the one on the Scuppernong River.


Short-eared owls have been spotted recently in the area near the historic log cabin, which is across Hwy N from the springs.



This goes out to Ron Kurowski, who was so instrumental in the success of the Scuppernong River Habitat Area restoration project.

Now we follow Paradise Springs Creek towards to the Scuppernong River. I was surprised and amazed at the extensive stone work that the DNR did (with help from SEWTU, I’m assuming) to restore the creek to its original stream bed.




The views from this wide open prairie are outstanding!




Ever since I used to mow this section of the Ice Age Trail, I always wanted to explore the Paradise Springs Creek.

The scenery is marvelous as we near the Scuppernong River.




We passed this way on the second leg our out journey down the Scuppernong River.

That was a wonderful hike! The bank along the Paradise Springs Creek is very well defined and I think it would be possible to take this hike almost any time of year.

See you at the Springs!