Halloween Blackberry Bashing Party

Bruce H. wields a mean propane torch as he gets one of the bonfires blazing under a sunlit sky.

(Article and photos submitted by:  Denis Coupland, Coordinator, KENNES (Hagan, Graham Creek) Watershed Project)

We held our 3rd Annual Halloween Bonfire and Blackberry-bashing Party at the Waterhouse Property (on Hagan Creek in the Mount Newton Valley) on Saturday 29th.  Volunteers were invited to view the recent stream restoration work and to help us with some clean-up activities.  By 10 o’clock in the morning we had several burn piles (of mostly Himalayan blackberry bush) blazing.  Volunteers helped to tend the fires and with more blackberry “bashing.”  Several sections of the riparian zone had been thinned out sufficiently so that we could concentrate on digging up the root crowns and declaring them official blackberry-free zones.  (Up until a few years ago, the entire length of stream on this property had been literally engulfed by thick Himalayan blackberry thickets.)  Plenty of new trees and sedges were planted in their place.  At noon, we stopped for lunch, a delicious sandwich platter donated by Red Barn, and snacks and juice from the Peninsula Co-op.  Thank you to our volunteers and sponsors for contributing to a productive and enjoyable work-party!

There are a lot more photos down below but first I would like to thank everyone who came out on Saturday and worked so hard to make our 3rd Annual Halloween event  such a success (many of those named below also helped with the construction work a couple of weeks ago):

Roni and Robin A. Ian Bruce (with Maya) Alastair B.
Marjorie G. Bruce H. Bob & Sunny J.
Zeb K. Adam O. Tony P.
Leta & Cosmos P. Derek R. Shirley S.
Michael S. Brian S. John T.
Michael T. Sarah V. Anne W.
Ryan W. Jonathan & Bonnie Z.

Our volunteers, hard at work planting and blackberry crown digging.

Zeb, Tony, Michael, Marjorie and Shirley take a break to admire the fire and have a chat.

After a hard morning's work, we gathered for the great lunch catered by the Red Barn.

Central Saanich Councillors Adam Olsen and Alastair Bryson, with PSS mascot Maya.

The work continued after lunch.  People didn’t just tend fires and bash blackberries.  Others planted a large number of alders grown by local schoolchildren in the stream riparian area and also transplanted the last of the Douglas Firs and Red Cedars we heeled in last fall to await a suitable planting spot.  They are thriving by the way.

Here's Bonnie Z. deep in the mud setting in more sedges around the edge of our new pond.

When we finally left, Michael T. was still hard at work with the Bobcat compacting the last burn pile.

Fencing should be installed around the riparian area in the near future and then we will have to maintain that space for many years to come (think of it like a garden) until a proper stream habitat is fully restored.  Are you up for another work party or two, particularly those of you didn’t manage to get out to this event?  I think the weather should be decent enough to do so for the next few weeks.  We did manage to create a virtually blackberry-free zone for about a quarter of the distance running down from Malcolm Road, but that means the other three-quarters remains infested.  And we still have to keep an eye on all of our transplanted trees and fine-tune any pools and riffles which may be altered by high water flows.  If you are interested, please contact us.  We would be delighted to host another event for such great volunteers.

P.S.  Here’s a note of appreciation that Anne, the property owner, sent us this week:  “I have enjoyed reading your reports on the stream restoration and wet land pond projects on my place.  What an incredible job you all have done!  From the first year you started the removal of the blackberry cane it completely stopped all the flooding in the winter.  I also love the bubbling sounds of the riffles put in the stream.  Thank you so much for all that you are doing.”