La. Native Plant Society workshop, Native Grass Identification Class, and other upcoming wild-thing events

September and October are shaping up to be two months filled with enticing educational native plant activities for folks in the Pelican State.

Tops on the list for me are the Ouida Home and Garden tour and workshop in St Francisville (September 21), The Allen Acres Butterfly Blast (September 23, 24,and 25), and the Native Grass, Sedges and Rushes Identification class in the Pitkin, Louisiana metropolitan area (October 7, 8 and 9).

The Ouida tour is a joint meeting of the Louisiana Native Plant Society and the Capitol Area Native Plant Society. It will include a behind-the-scenes perspective on native plantings at the wonderful old 1880’s home of Dave and Tracey Banowetz just outside of St. Francisville. If you haven’t been to St, Francisville, you should, at some point, make it there since it is, in my opinion, one of the most picturesque towns in the state. And St. Francisville is only a stone’s throw away from Clark Creek State Park (just north across the Mississippi border), one of the most unique natural areas in the region. Get off that couch and take a kid or two with you when you go.



above: my friend, the late Steven Strong, at the Asteriod meeting, 2011, in front of one of the many unusual natural features at Clark Creek State Park in southwestern Mississippi

On hand will be home-grown native plant experts who will guide the attendees through the wild and a native prairie gardens at Ouida. John Mayronne of Covington, a pioneer of the native plant movement in the southeast and a nationally recognized garden designer/ landscape architect, along with Rick Webb of Amite, cutting-edge native plant nurseryman and rare plant grower, will lead a tour of the gardens that have been established over the last ten years by Dave and Tracey. Dr. Charles Allen of Pitkin, renown author, biologist, and pyrogenic genius, along with little old me (the Prairie Dog), will lead a tour of the Banowetz’s natue-themed prairie gardens. I am sure you’ll enjoy experiencing this Bluestem grass-dominated wildscape. It’s the bomb!

I was able, during my visit to St Francisville last October, to finally get to see these gardens for the first time, through Dave and Tracey’s eyes. They have been purchasing a few pounds of seed every year or two using seed collected from the uber-cool Cajun Prairie Society’s Restoration Project in Eunice,   (….seed provided by yours truly, wuf-wuff!!!). 🙂 Come mingle with experts and novices alike, and take a gander at how these gardens have evolved over the years. It should be a good day, time well-spent.

The Allen Acres Butterfly Blast is a Charles Allen annual event that focuses on plants that attract butterflies and beneficial insects to the garden. Charles has worked for years to establish a wonderful series of plant-driven gardens specifically geared toward butterfly attraction. If you haven’t seen the gardens and heard them interpreted by Charles, make time to attend. You can rent a room from his B and B or camp-out on the Allen property which is quite unique. The property adjoins the Vernon Unit of Kisatchie National Forest. From the gardens, take a five minute hike on foot to the west to see the pristine Ouiska Chitto River. Charles usually leads trips at night to see lightning bugs and puts out an apparatus at night to attract and identify night-flying insects. Kids and adults (older kids) like these natural added attractions.

And last but not least, for those of you interested in the obscure science of grasses and grass-like plants, Dr. Allen will hold an ever-popular Grasses, Rushes and Sedges identification workshop at Allen Acres. I did this several years ago and will be there for it again this year to discover the secrets of gardening with these exceptionally wonderful and useful plants.

For details of these and other cool educational events, check out the Native Plant Society’s calendar at…

Louisiana Native Plant Society
Capital Area Native Plant Society
September Field Trip
Where:  Ouida Plantation (North of St. Francisville in the Tunica Hills)
When:  Saturday, September 20, 2014
8:30 a.m. until….
8:30 a.m. – Wander the gardens and woods at your leisure
10:00 a.m. – “Landscaping With Native Plants”
A garden walk led by John Mayronne and Rick Webb
12:00 – Lunch
 Lunch fixings provided; bring your own beverage of choice.
1:30 p.m. – “Turn Your Pasture Into A Prairie”
Tour a demonstration prairie with Charles Allen and Marc Pastorek

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