Guest blog by Izzy Gerald
This past Wednesday morning on June 14, six Philadelphia residents – and one very friendly cat! – joined environmental educator Judith Gratz on a walk through Tacony Creek Park to explore the biodiversity of our neighborhood and to give new nicknames to the plants we found. While the walk itself was only about an hour and a half, the experience was bookended by fun activities and educational exercises. Judith gave us a introduction to plant diversity and identification, teaching us how to become explorers and environmental observers ourselves.
We started the morning with introductions and delicious snacks, followed by an activity geared towards teaching the younger participants (and less experienced ones, like me) about the different ways to identify plants based on their structure and their identifying characteristics. Then, after a quick relay race, we set off to test our new knowledge in the field and explore the flora located throughout the park.
What we found on our walk was an ecosystem full of different plants – from shrubs, to flowers, to vines – each with its own distinct set of characteristics. Some were fuzzy, some were spiky, some had beautiful flowers or delicious berries. As we traipsed around, discovering plants, Judith encouraged us to think of nicknames for the plants we were finding. Some of us went a more creative route, naming our discoveries anything from white thicket to cobflowers to purple fire, and some of us stuck to traditional names like banana leaves and watercress. One of us even decided to name a flower after herself: the Gennyberry! Needless to say, it was a wonderful introduction for the kids and the other participants to the biodiversity in our area.
Nature’s Hidden Surprises is our monthly nature walk series held on the second Wednesday of every month, where we explore a new topic each month. This event is free and open to the public. Stop by the I St. and Ramona Ave. entrance to Tacony Creek Park next month on July 12 to learn about “Meadows, Monarchs, and other Pollinators.” We hope to see you there!