Special thanks, Rick Webb, for the help Monday, conducting the controlled burn at the City of Hammond’s Chappapeela Park. It was a scorcher out there in more ways than one. Also, thanks to the Chappapeela Recreation District Board of Directors and to Fire Chief Thompson, who overrode the code, and made an exception to the City ordinance outlawing controlled burns in the City limits. And thanks to Ken Bosso, of Baton Rouge, who shared photographs of Butterflies with me, taken on the foliage in the prairie gardens. They’re below.
A tiny Butterfly called the Skipper, possibly a Fiery Skipper, on Botonia asteroides/ difusa, at the Park
A Viceroy on a Tallow sapling
A Pearl Crescent
A Fiery Skipper on a False Indigo plant
above, a photo of the pond slope during the time it was handed to me for restoration, July 2012. The soil was mineral soil/ sub-soil clay, dug from the pond area. No amendments were used and our seed loved it!
This photo above, taken during preparation of the site in 2012, when herbicide was used to eradicate weeds and simplify life for the more specialized prairie plants. Its a permanent fix, forever; with biodiversity instead of mowed turf grass.
an interpretive sign along the walkway surrounding the planting describing the changes of the prairie during the four seasons; the timing of the burn. If you look closely, you’ll see there’s a White Egret at the water’s edge, just above the sign. click on the photo to enlarge. It stayed there the six hours I was at the Park, working the edge for fish and critters. And it was there still working when I left for home.
above, the contrasting foliage of Little Bluestem grass on left and Yellow False Indigo on right.
this is before the burn….
and… immediately after the burn…
…three days after the burn
I will go through and volunteer some time to cut back the Willow trees and a few of the Drummond Maples in a week or two, to let the sun shine in.
Most plants at the water edge and the walkway edge weren’t effected by the fire since most of the fuel is on the interior of the planting strip. We did the burn in June only because we had to, for the sake of LSU’s experimental research plots embedded in the garden. There are thirty one meter square plots. Students under the direction of Dr. William Platt, have collected data on species present and then designed and executed their own experiments, and then written papers on the results of their work.
Conducting controlled burns this time of year is historically appropriate, since most fires in prehistoric times occurred in May and June. This timing also happens to damage woody plants more severely than winter burns do. Woody plants being vulverable when they have fully leafed out. They encroach and shade out the prairie. The fire is a natural disturbance the the prairie is adapted to, important for encouraging flowering and seed production by the pyrogenic wildflowers and grasses that make up the prairie landscape.
In a month, you won’t be able to tell that a burn occurred. It will be all green again and the most conservative plants will benefit greatly.
Below are some photos of cool plants before the burn.
Coral Bean pods
Hibiscus, Rose Mallow/ seed from Dr. Mac Vidrine’s Eunice garden
Marsh Flatsedge (left), and Coastal Hibiscus at water’s edge
the blue of Little Bluestem grass and the purple of Pluchea
Native Cajun Prairie Buffalo wallow, a remnant of the Great Southwestern Louisiana Prairie, in Camaron Parish. This depicts water edge prairie vegetation at what the Cajuns call a Marais, a unique natural feature in the Coastal Tallgrass Prairie ridge and swail landscape.
done the deed.