Hello Meadow!

I visited a new client yesterday in the Abita Springs area Friday to consult on the idea of developing a plan for a prairie in her back yard. We waited until then to meet, so that she could let the “lawn” could grow-out this spring, with the hope of identifying a few good plants. As it turned out, we found a full fledged pine flatwoods prairie remnant, complete with all the bells and whistles!


looks like a typical un-mowed backyard, but there’s gold in thar!!!!


the illustrious Long Leaf Milkweed, in flower, Abita Springs, Louisiana

This back yard was chocked full of Asclepias longifolia, a cool pine woods Milkweed, indicative of a high quality vegetation! We found lots of Meadow Beauties, two species – alifanus and Virginica. There was the very delicate, clear blue flowering heads of Hoary Skullcap scattered all over the place. There were numerous species of Rosette grass, including the velvet leafed scoparium and the Bog-specific species, scabriusculum. This, I beleive, was a first for me, finding all my work done when I arrived for the first time on-site! whoopwhoop!!!

All I could do was to tell her to burn it, and she’ll likely see some Orchids popping in a few years. ahhhh, how do you spell relief!?



Hot Prairie!!!

Dr. Bill Platt’s LSU Entomology/ Conservation Biology 4017 students took part in the annual controlled burn at Chappapeela Park in Hammond, Louisiana last Tuesday.


White and Yellow Baptisias just before the controlled burn, above – click to enlarge photo…

The Park prairie gardens are perfectly designed for fire, with water on one side and hard surface asphalt on the other. Not easy for the fire to get out of bounds, easy to manage.


the students really enjoyed lighting up the landscape. They had done their two weeks of field work in the prairie garden, collecting different types of data for their Lab class project. We we grateful for the ten to fifteen mph wind, which helped us make the fire happen.




U.S. Foods Gardens, Flowood, Missississippi, a Trent Rhodes – Landscape Architecture design – the furture’s so bright, you gotta wear shades!


Blackeyed Susies used as a spring ephemeral annual nurse crop, adds a temporary splash of pizazz to the prairie garden areas at the U.S. Foods refrigerated transfer facility in the Industrial Park, in Flowood last week.




Its almost show time at the LEED-inspired landscape for the U.S. Army National Guard Readiness Center, Franklinton, Louisiana! 


The grounds are almost ready for native prairie planting, folks! We should be seeding late next week.


above, the wetland garden, with its new overflow drain


This will be my new playground for the next year or so. Boy, do I love my job! Thanks to Dufreche and Perkins Landscape Architects for letting me steer them with the prairie vegetation ideas! Go team!!

Carnivorous plants-a-popping at City of Covington, Louisiana’s Natural Park


The Yellow Pitcher plants, Sarracinia alata, has finished flowering and is now going to seed.


above, the very small Sundew species, capillaris, the most common one, mingles with Club Moss on the bare, fire-exposed soils of Blue Swamp Creek Nature Trail


The larger Sundew, possibly Drosera brevifolia (via Charles Allen)


….and a tee-tiny mass of flowers of the meat-eating Bladderwort, Utricularia subulata (via Charles Allen). How sweet is fire for the natural open landscape?  🙂

Thanks so much to all of the folks who have made this project take off! Special thanks to Landscape Architects Priscilla Floca, Adam Perkins, and Johnny Mayronne – and author and naturalist Charlotte Sidenberg – Jane Sprouse – Skip Miller – and Leslie Ackle – all fellow board members of the very active group, Keep Covington Beautiful.

Spring blooming ephemeral annuals rock!

always so fun to play around with ephemeral annuals….


Most folks hate the most-lovely and productive native spring blooming annual Cirsium horridulum. Not only is it a perfect early flowering bee and butterfly plant, but you can eat it, too! Carefully cut and “clean” the stem by cutting all of the spiny parts off, and chew it, as it is sweet to taste. Yum-yum-scrumscious!


a Texas native annual ephemeral American Basketflower smells so good when in flower – and its big and showy – very pretty early pollinator addition to upstart prairie gardens. This one from the City of Mandeville roadside conservation planting at 190 and Causeway approach. It and tons of Monarda citiodora and Blackeyed Susies are just coming into color, as an ephemeral touch for spring.

Frisky False Indigos in my seed Farm field!


Baptisia sphaerocarpa has a typical rounded, shrub-like form.



It blooms a screaming-bright yellow… – that’s why famed plantsman Larry Lowman named his favorite selection Screamin’ Yellow.


Hundreds of White False Indigo, B. alba. litter the fields at my Farm in Mississippi. I used to dream of seeing this sort of thing years ago, as I was inspired by prairie folks’ work. Hard work pays off, ya’ll!


Yes, everything is bigger in Texas! This is a B. alba from seed from my prairie friend Botanist and landscape master Peter Loos – a Texas genetic strain that is a full feet in height. Some of these are even taller! That, my friend, is a tall Texan!

There are many natural crosses – hybrids – that has cross pollinated and developed over the years…


This is one, above, that seems to have alba and sphaerocarpa blood. Kinda looks like the cultivar Carolina Moonlight.


the coolest one I’ve found so far is this very special, unique one, an obvious cross between B. alba and B. bracteata. Notice the purple stems – nice work, bees!!!!! I have the temporary name on it, White Lightning, for now. perty perty.


I have a few Baptisia australis out there hanging on, even though they’re this close to the Gulf of Mexico – it was an experiment, ya know. But its working. They seem to like the sticky Gulf breezes – they’re northerners (bless their little hearts).


Here’s North Carolina Botanical Garden’s Rob Gardener’s hybrid of australis (this’ns not in my field), Purple Smoke…. not too shabby…

Baptisias are tough plants that will last longer than you and me put together. They are flowering with some of the earliest of the spring bloomers – and they finish up the same – they’re dormant by August, and leave tumble weed sized skeleton structures all of the field. Baptisias are for bees, an important plant for foraging pollinators. Get you some!!

Matt Conn making progress with his wetland habitat restoration, in New Iberia, Parish, Louisiana

check out Matt Conn’s blog site, his prairie section, below. Matt bought seed from me some three years ago. He’s developing a wetland property. Matt is an ecologist. A dude.





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