Arboretum scouting trip, Chapapeela fuel effects study, successful!

This week brought two exciting events to my otherwise semi-eventful life. While Candi was doing taxes (ugghh!), I was off gallivanting around, fluttering like a butterfly from one fun project to the next. Between us, I think I ended up with the better job for sure.

On my end, two big events occurred. One was a big group that drove over from Baton Rouge to see the seed fields at our Farm. LSU’s Hilltop Arboretum Director, Peggy Coates, members of the Board of Directors, along with numerous “Friends” of the Arbo put the rubber on the road for a fact-finding visit, studying the concept of incorporating diverse native meadow gardens into the open “meadow” area in most-northern part of the Arboretum property. Well yea, cher!

The group stopped first at the LSU Hammond AgCenter Bot Garden and then hopped the state line across the Pearl River into, Mississippi for a look-see at Picayune’s Crosby Arboretum, and finally, Meadowmaker’s farm in Pearl River County’s tiny community of Henleyfield.

It was quite a group that showed. About thirty five people all together, I figure. They got to see a good bit of our place. Good thing they went to Crosby first because I am pretty sure they’d have been scratching their heads if not. And our fields aren’t managed for pretty like the Crosby is, though I happen to think they are delightfully pretty. Crosby is highly maintained and our place is quite the opposite.

Our fields are experiments basically and are mainly for study and for my own personal enjoyment. I haven’t done things to manipulate the experiments but have just watched and studied them.

And of course they are preserves for rare genetics. This really is an important baton we carry, managing these genetics. While they are each year increasingly more rare in the wild and each year further insulted by benign neglect, ignorant human intervention (Swinus americanus) or both, they are preserved at the farm. Somebody’s got their back! 🙂

Baptisias were kickin’ at the farm. We were able to see lots of hybrids of Baptisia spherocarpa, nutalli, bracteata, and alba. The yeallows were at peak and the whites were just kicking into overdrive. The seed of this Baptisa is from the Cajun Prairie site collected and planted in 1999 and 2000. It was originally seed planted from all of the remnant prairies back in the day. Variations of the species are all over the place. Just like at Eunice. We saw a nice planting of Amsonia, Blue Star, in peak bloom and a really nice meadow of phlox with its highly fragrant blossoms. The Phlox meadow is one of my best ever creations. And it was an accident.


Blue Star,  Amsonia 


Longbract Wild Indigo, Baptisian bracteata var. leucophaea 


A handful of what I call “Sideways Indigo” (B. bracteata)


my old greenhouse wood heater, and the clay and recycled glass sculpture “Ted” hanging out in the Downy Phlox, Phlox pilosa patch

There were a lot of folks to entertain and it was hard, as it always is, to point everything out. It takes a couple or a few Botanists, with that many people. But I think most people got the point.

Its function over form at Meadowmakers. I didn’t get a single photo since I was busy tryin’ to dazzle the crowd. But caught the bus’s back-end as it got up and went.


above: the Hilltop bus heads off into the sunset, after touring the farmstead.

The other big deal of the week was the fuel effects study we did with the Conservation Biology 4017 class at my awesome meadow gardens at Chapapeela Park in Hammond(Dizzy Dean famously said, “it ain’t braggin’ if you can do it”). Its a long story I wont get into it much, but basically we set up permanent study plots, 15 one meter square, to over time, study species recruitment and diversity of the planting. All this orchestrated by none of than William J. Platt, fire ecologist-Biologist, torch-bearer-extraordinaire. He intends to use these plots for studying my handywork. What a danged honor, ya’ll. whoot!IMG_3800

after the fire is lit, Jene’ calls out a temperature reading. the temps were about 200 to 300 degrees for the adolescent Little Bluestem vegetation, 500 to 700 or so degrees with equal biomass wheat straw-added, and 1000 to 1200 degrees with pine straw added. It showed in the plots after burn, with almost no debris left (scorched earth) in the pine straw plots, a little in the hay plots, and less in the control, no-addition plots. cool beans.


teaching assistant Matt Fadlyn just after one of the wheat straw-added plots was lit


after recording pre-treatment species diversity and richness. the burn is executed. A marker for a forb species in a pine straw-added plot. Next year’s class will use this data to design their hypothesis.

It was still a little wet to burn since at soil level, you could easily feel moisture. But the experiments were all burned and I will finish up the rest of the vegetation in a few weeks when the heat finally comes and the fuel finally dries. Then I’ll pick a really windy day and that will force it to burn.

After working with the students, Dr. Platt and I went to Abita Flatwoods Preserve to see his study plots there.


they had a really great burn there two weeks ago. Some areas had brown pine needles forty feet up, so that means flames were a-leapin up high, lappin’ at the tree tops!


Bill and Kimber and burnt woods. Nice. click on the photos to enlarge them, awesome.


under the fire, in the wet, the carnivorous Drosera intermedia didn’t miss a beat


its a pretty thing.

ya’ll have a good weekend


3 thoughts on “Arboretum scouting trip, Chapapeela fuel effects study, successful!

  1. Professor Possum. Mais oui. But a prairie dog needs to do what a prairie dog needs to do. just sayin’. plus Candi is fancy-feet dancin’ through that I, R, and, S stuff (all three). she can add good, if ya know what I mean.

  2. Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been running a blog for?
    you make running a blog look easy. The whole glance of your web site is great,
    let alone the content material!

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