If you’ve been paying attention to Forest Park over the last few years, you will have seen some rather radical changes to the management of the space which has been called “Saint Louis’ town square.” Over the last 8 or so years we have had controlled burns in areas of the park, an intense program of eradication invasive species and the expansion of the wild areas within the park. Today I chanced upon a crew of volunteers, led by Gary Schimmelpfenig, planting plugs of native grasses in the Kennedy Woods Savanna. I watched for a while before wandering into the woods, where I found the wood poppy plants in bloom. I spent the next few minutes sprawled on the ground getting photos, and the next few cleaning up broken glass and other trash that I found in the freshly burned area of the woods.
Every where you wander in the Kennedy Forest, there are mayapples, thanks to the recent clearing of the forest floor by fire and volunteers. The double leaf plants are growing their fruit (toxic to us homo sapiens) and in May we should have some blossoms showing themselves. I wandered past the golf course and drove further into the park, where I found redbuds by the waterways, young lovers in paddle boats, a steely-eyed grackle taking a wary sip by the water, and a profound sense of peace.