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!
After nearly three years of planning and preparation, I sowed about 1/3 of an acre today with native seeds. Preparation included multiple passes with herbicide, including spot sprayings over more than two years. This year, I spent a great deal of time collecting native seeds from the surrounding counties. Today, right after our snow accumulation, Julian and I sowed them into two new areas (see map). This leaves a small “domestic” area between the workshop and the shed where we’ll have a garden, a fire pit, and continue to keep mowed and semi-manicured.
After digging through notes, field notebooks, field guides, and the furthest recesses of our memories, we’ve compiled a vascular plant species list for Pearl Creek Farm. So far, we have 221 species listed, which is not bad for 10 acres. I’ve marked several with codes indicating their native status and whether or not we “imported” them as part of one of our restorations. As you can see, we have some identification work to do on some of the plants here.
With the help of John Atwood at the Missouri Botanical Garden, I’ve also compiled a list of 16 bryophytes for the farm.
It’s a good year for frost flowers. These “flowers” form during the first really cold nights of the fall. Basically, water is forced up through the stems of certain species of plants and is forced outward, forming intricate patterns. Most of these frost flowers formed on the stems of Verbesina virginica, White Crownbeard.
This is by far the most frost flowers I’ve ever seen in the wild. This is the third time I’ve seen them at Pearl Creek Farm. The other times I saw one or two only. There are more than two dozen out there now!
I hope June finds you knee-deep in native plants! Our prairie has gone from spring beauties and violets all the way through coneflowers, horsemint, and at least two types of milkweed. I can see ashy sunflower, blazing star, and various species of Silphium ready to round out the summer. Tufts of native grass are thicker than ever. The pond has yellow spatterdock, white waterlily, arrowhead (Sagittaria), and lizard’s tail all blooming right now. There will no doubt be more as the season progresses.
There aren’t many of them, but a few Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica) and Toothwort (Dentaria laciniata) started blooming at Pearl Creek Farm, probably just today. We went out for a hike looking this morning and found nothing.
Walnut trees are common on our farm, even invasive one might say. A particularly large one was unlucky enough to be caught dropping walnuts in our frog pond. It had to go because walnuts are poisonous to aquatic animals. So, we cut it down. It just so happens I have a friend with a sawmill and the facilities to process the wood.
In the course of a day, we lifted an entire walnut log, twice: once to load the cut boards on the trailer (above) and the pickup, and again to put them on a rack to dry (below).