April is for flowers, and I aint foolin’

Prairie Gardens are for prairie fools

a Euthamiac – in the house

radiant Polytaenia

Prairie Phlox grows along with sweet-smelling Narrow Leafed Mt Mint and the distinctive foliage of Ashy Sunflower

Prairie Phlox is generally pink in color but in some populations the plant is highly variable in color and flower form

Carriere, Pearl River County, Mississippi prairie gardens were so happy to see me yesterday. I got to visit with some of my old friends.


Jason Stagg and Dr. Yan Chen at LSU’s Hammond Research Station native plant demo gardens


Kansas Blazing Star, pretty happy blazing in Louisiana, too

Liatris pycnostachya clump in April

Pycnostachya roots clump, in January, furry little beast 🙂


Malcolm Vidrine’s White Mountain Mint wild-collected-selection, a plant of promise

two seedling variations of the same exceptional native plant, White Leaf Mountain Mint, Picnanthemum albescens var. Malcolm Mint, a spearmint scented native mint cultivar with plant parts that smells just like the old world species Mentha spicata. This unique cultivar of Mt. Mint has highly aromatic properties that will no doubt impress you. Its also a very pretty and delightful plant; of substantial ornamental value. I have had this plant since about 2001. In about 15 years, I’ve noticed that approximately 80% or more of the seedlings that have grown from the original Momma plant have the true spearmint aroma. The rest have the typical species camphorine smell. The plant is easy to root, too, from stem cuttings – if taken at the best time – just prior to bloom. Propagation via cuttings produces plants that are true clones, identical to the plant the cuttings came from.



click to enlarge photos

a visit with my two brothers to Bennie Trahan’s garden in St. Tammany Parish

– one of the more impressive collection gardens I have seen in a while, Bennie has spent 25 plus years hunting wild Iris, those of variable color, the true natural hybrids of the Louisianas.


speakin’ of Loosiana



Iris nelsoni in its natural habitat, Vermillion Parish, La, – photos, Paul Pastorek

I. nelsoni, the “Abbeville red”


Cajun Prairie Society Prairie Field Day, April 8

a particularly purple-leafed Indian grass pointed out to me by my friend Steve Nevitt, at the Duralde Prairie Restoration site, north of Eunice April 8. Not too shabby.

Prairie Parsley at Eunice Restoration site

Scuttelaria incana in blue with Ashy Sunflower at Eunice – photo by Justin Fuselier

There is never a wasted trip to see the Cajun Prairie Restoration sites.

Always something to impress you if your eyes can see.


Tangipahoa Parish – hail to the natural swail!!!

Lycopus, either rubellus or virginiana, a purpley-leafed mint.

num-nummy! This swail landscape may be hard to reproduce, but maybe not.


sidetracked in the side yard – things of late spring

daybreak cypress side yard moon, St Tammany Parish, La

classy side yard prairie garden’s got what it takes to impress…  …at least me

Silphium asteriscus

Silphium gracile

silphium simpsoni

Silphium integrifolia


Clematis make good prairie additions – fire tolerant


Red Top grass – Agrostus hyemalis

Carolina Moonlight – a hybrid, pale yellow color, with B. alba structure and form

Baptisia bracteata

greens are colors, too.

blue-foliaged tones of White Batisias and Switch grass


Bio Lab class’ controlled burns at Hammond City Park, more than satisfactory

above, Dr. Platt at pond #1 – introducing natural succession through fire…

With twenty mph sustained winds and gusting to 30 or more, and dry, dry – without rain for three or more weeks, Dr. Bill Platt and I had perfect conditions for a rockin’ prescribed fire on Friday April 14, on the Conservation Biology/ Entomology research areas – the prairie gardens – at Chappapeela Sports Park. With Dr. Platt’s direction, we have built into the gardens, 30 1-meter-square data study plots. This was the best burn we’ve had in the four years that we’ve done our work at the park, most of our burns have been hampered by wet weather. We were excited to have had our fire move all the way down to the water’s edge where the dried stem structure from last year’s bumper crop of Climbing Hemp Vine fueled tiny wind-whipped furnaces – super hot, intense fires that killed tree cambium on woody plants, forcing growth below the soil, to the roots. Last October when I visited the Park the Hemp Vine was so plentiful and so massive in size, the aroma that wafted through the air was simply magical and there were dozens and dozens –  many Monarch Butterflies nectaring on the masses of Hemp Vine flowers. Hemp Vine makes it fun!!!!

small pond – pond #2

a photograph showing the fire intensity effect 5 days later, with soil exposed from the top to the bottom of the pond slope.

So far he and the students have studied fire intensity, soils, pollinators, species recruitment, species diversity and richness, shrub growth and soil hydrology.

Dr. Platt said to me yesterday that it is “remarkable” how well the prairie vegetation has  developed in the short amount of time it has taken. This word “remarkable”, coming from one of the most active – and one of the leading – scientists in the country.



Chapapeela Park Design.2017  transect designs

Chapapeela Park Prairie



If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space. 

– Charles M. Allen


‘There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? … I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?   –   Robert F. Kennedy


The future Mirabeau Water Garden Park, a 25 acre designed wetland, New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana –

Waggonner and Ball Architects – Carbo Landscape Architects – Pastorek Habitats Horticulture/ Ecology


Cramer’s Amazon Celosia, from seed, ready for the garden (left) and Solidago tortifolia seedlings (right) – whoopwhoop!    gittin’ growin’!


Dr Allen’s thoughts on Bogs and Baygalls – Join him for Bogs and Baygalls Field Trips on May 19-21 – He is one of the leading authorities on the subject.

Bogs Baygalls



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