Normally, frost flowers form during the first hard freeze in late fall. Frost flowers form as water freezes just underground and is forced up through dormant plant tissue. The plant tissue acts as a mold for the ribbons of ice that are then extruded from the ground in the shape of the plant stem.
Several native plants form frost flowers but the species we have here that forms them is White Crownbeard (Verbesina virginica). I suppose the long, sustained cold snap we’ve had this last week allowed them to grow and keep growing until they were covered with snow yesterday. Here are several of the frost flowers I photographed the day before the snow.
I recently created a new database to track management activities at Pearl Creek Farm. Primarily, I was interested in having a single place I could check for a) when and where I collected seeds to sow at the farm, b) what year I established various restorations, c) what year I planted trees. Since I had decent records for a lot of other activities, I went long and put in everything I could think of that might be of interest at some point in the future. Obviously, there are tons of things I’ve done (particularly with controlling invasives) that I wish I had better records of, but those will just have to remain lost in the distant past.
The web page that displays the database can be accessed from the menu above. It’s called simply “Management“.
This restoration was from seed and this is its seventh growing season. The random, unkempt look is intentional. Except for removing invasives, I don’t try to control where the plants grow. I’m happy to let them do the thing they’ve been doing for millenia and just enjoy them and the fauna they attract.
This area is about 6/10 acre in front of my house. It started as a typical rural lawn with tall fescue, Bermuda grass, Kentucky bluegrass, and other non-native cool-season “lawn” grasses. It also had a lot of winter annuals like chickweed, henbit, dead nettle, etc. It was mowed by the previous owner but not doted over and cared for like a lawn in the suburbs.
This Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea) has been blooming for more than a week. I thought it was a little early for it. Sure enough, there are probably a dozen more that we found today that are in varying stages of blooming. It’s going to be be our best year yet for them in the restored prairie!
This post is not about Pearl Creek Farm, but about another great place in Missouri: Buzzard’s Roost in Pike County. This area, scarcely a half mile from the place where I was born and raised, is unique in its own right, but is also fairly unusual for areas outside of the Ozarks. Included are two significant cave openings, at least two permanent springs, several minor cave openings, and a sheer, north-facing bluff that harbors at least two rare plant species, considered glacial relicts, for Missouri. The area also harbors some interesting habitats for northern Missouri and has some history and lore associated with it.
Much of this area is for sale in a 70-acre tract from a landowner who logged part of it and kept it as a hunting playground. The karst and sensitive habitats are protected by a lengthy hike from the main road. I’d like to see this property in the hands of a government agency, land foundation, or a conservation-minded buyer that understands its value beyond the abundant game species present.
Read on to see more photographs of the area, some characteristic flora and fauna (including two rare plant species), or head straight to the real estate information!