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!
Prairie restorations look messy and “weedy”. We’ve heard second-hand comments from people that some neighbors and other passersby think we’re lazy or don’t care what our place looks like. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and I think our place is wonderfully beautiful! At the same time, I think manicured looks, well, unnatural.
Furthermore, the county comes by at least 2-3 times per summer mowing a wide path along each side of the road. Normally, this is fine as it’s better for visibility. However, it gives the non-natives an advantage over the native prairie plants. Thus, I put up signs to ask the mowers to not mow in front of the house. So far, they are more than happy to oblige.
To help everyone understand what we’re doing, signs are helpful and I’ve had some up for a few years. This Christmas, my folks got some signs made for the place. They are awesome! Thanks!
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.
The Missouri Prairie Foundation is dedicated to preserving prairies in Missouri. Our state’s prairies are on the eastern edge of the vast Great Plains of North America. Because they make some of the best land for row crops, temperate grasslands are one of the rarest ecosystems on the planet. Missouri is blessed with some stellar examples, partly because much of the land in the state is littered with rocks, making it unsuitable for cultivation.
Here, we’re attempting a controlled burn of MPF’s Coyne Prairie in Dade County, Missouri. As you can see, we got off to a good start. Unfortunately, it started to mist and then rain shortly after we started. Soon, the vegetation became too wet so that even a head fire couldn’t burn through. We saved the rest for another day.