fall color

prairie – a different kind of fall color




no-touch gardens



Been rediscovering Celosia. A hundred years ago I used to grow Celosia as an ornamental garden plant. easy easy easy. Last year at the Hammond AgCenter field day I was absolutely mesmerized by the number of bees hovering and gleaning about the Ball Seed Celosia exclusive – Intenz Lipstick Celosia. So amazing and fun to see! I didn’t get Intenz but I did get Cramer’s Amazon Giant Celosia seed and it did not dissapoint. More butterflies, bees and Skippers than you can shake a stick at, folks – all summer long.

monarchs were happy in the Cramer’s Amazon – I walked up on four last Wednesday just standing and watching for a few minutes – they were like drunken sailors coming back for more and more and more.

Two trips back to back to Eunice prairie for seed and saw numerous Monarchs during my time there. This is an action shot – in flight.

above, Trump Tower in Eunice haaaha

Inoculating a new prairie planting with groovy prairie seed, Friday in St John Parish, La.


I stopped in and took some photos with my flying camera at the Hammond Park prairie gardens. These gardens wouldn’t be so extraordinary if they weren’t growing in the worst soil ever – Ever-ever! We did no amendments for the soil and took advantage of superior prairie adaptability to adverse conditions at hand. Turned out well.

white, clay subsoil excavated from fifteen feet below supports magical prairie grasses and flowering plants.

Seeded Little Bluestem and Coreopsis linifolia lining the walk at the Chappapeela Sports Park irrigation ponds. The gardens are managed to be wildly and woolly – and bug-friendly.

nice crop of Asters growing happily in the mowed hybrid Bermuda turf grass at Chappapeela – wish I could say I planted this but it was created by a power larger than I.


Abita Flatwoods Preserve, Nature Conservacy loop through Pine prairie and Baygall habitats with the Capitol Area chapter of the La. Native Plant Society was a real blast. A good group turned out and we braved the cold windy overcast weather that turned out to be nice sun shiny day by mid-trip.

saw cool stands of Bigelowia nudata, Rayless Goldenrod, and other awesome flowering plants and native grasses, above

thousands of plants of herby white Asters were strewn across the open fields – where’s a botanist when you need one? Nice prairie.

At one point along the trail, where the prairie and the Baygall plant communities come together, Dicanthelium (possibly) scabriusculum – Panic grass – covers the ground with its course textured tan colored grass foliage – a striking change and transition from Bluestem grass to Panic grass.

An occasional Morh’s Bluestem grass plant with its distinctive chalky silver-blue colored leaves stands-out among the mostly tan and green tones. You know you’re livin’ right when you stumble upon Mohr’s Bluestem – num-nummy!!


Old book for free, on-line –Ā  The Cajun Prairie Restoration Journal – thank you Bonnie Johnson for sharing this link with me.


healthy habitats

butterfly acreage > butterfly gardens

cool Indian grass, Bluestem, and Pines, St Landry Parish, October 6 2017

wirey grassy cushion – Slender Bluestem grass


October Sunflowers, Asters and False Foxgloves

sunflower fence

happy trails

hello yellow

October 11 2017, St. Tammany Parish seed for a St Tammany Parish Garden


September 20, 2017 Vernon Parish, La

False Foxgloves and Golden Asters

fun with foxgloves


yesterday’s farm photos

groovy grid at the farm in Pearl River County, Miss.

sunflowery fall color


Bluestem grass turns red

aster fields

an aster field is like the California 405 for Bees and Butterflies

millions of flowers

a sight worth millions

Aster praealtus

monarch action photo – she seemed happy




prairie crescendo aligns with Monarch migration

October is the month for the riotous crescendo of flowering plants, the symphonic prairie song. The Monarch’s flyway-flythrough on the return trip to Mexico’s Fir forests is loaded with prairie nectar, for a reason.

Acadian Baptist Center’s newest phase of its prairie garden plantings – Doll’s Daisy in white, Swamp Sunflower in yellow, and topped with the blue of Eupatorium ivafolia.

There are no coincidences in nature. every wild area – natural area – is perfectly organized and logical, no matter how wild and wooly it may look. Doll’s Daisy, Swamp Sunflower and the Ivy leafed Thoroughwort scrap for ground now but will be pushed out from more permanent plants – over time. The fascinating nature of the process of natural succession happens to be an enjoyable pastime – to watch from day to day and from year to year.


Dr Joe and Charlotte Barron residence in Spearsville, Louisiana, a stone’s throw from the Arkansas/ Loosiana state line

pinky lavendar color of Agalinus, Gerardia, above


False Foxglove stirs-up the appetite of the Buckeye Butterfly caterpillars in Pineville, Loosiana

Landscape Designer Tony Tradewell in awe of the flowery flora. Tony and I worked together to make this garden happen.

white Eupatorium hyssopifolium, white Doll’s Daisy, bright yellow Swamp Sunflower, pink False Foxglove and Bluestem grass making the groovy scene at the Grant family’s hilltop home in the piney woods of central La.


State of Louisiana’s I-20 pollinator garden flourishing

Bluestem grass and Doll’s Daisy on the half-mile pollinator-prairie planting near Ruston La., along I-20

flowering stalks of Bluestem

a very cool garden it is indeed. Lots of the silvery leafed Whooly Croton (or Dove Weed, Goat Weed, or Hog Weed). A plant of many common names. The host plant for Goat Weed Leafwing butterflies.

At Charles Allen’s Annual Butterfly Blast on Saturday, I was shown the Goat Weed Leafwing larva wrapped up in what Linda Auld called a Leafwing burrito. šŸ™‚ The larva is silvery colored, just like the Croton leaf.

Croton caterpillar, above


Bluestem front lawn upland area straddled by the Louisiana Iris gardens, at the St Landry visitor’s Welcome Center in Opalousas, La.


The City of West Monroe, the Biology Department at ULM, and Pastorek Habitats collaborated on the City’s Kiroli Park prairie garden in West Monroe. Its coming along very well, thank you. Purple Top on the hilltop!

The garden has taken on a “shady” character, with Purple-top Tridens grass covering the ground beautifully, accompanied by Little Bluestem grass, and Thoroughworts, Bee Balms, and Spotted Horse Mint.


Eunice Restoration Project from 120 meters

Eunice Prairie Restoration project gets a haircut. Pesky trees and shrubbery removed mechanically, the first step in our effort at grass-scape recovery. Go Team Cajun Prairie!


Everyone knows the best pollinator garden is the prairie garden. That’s where entomologists go when they want to find the fun bugs. That’s where smart landscape designers go to get natural.





prairie gardens are the gift of grit

On the Edge

“All of the exciting stuff that happens is not in the normal center, but on the edge.”

James Hitchmough, Horticulture Professor, University of Sheffield – New Directions in the American Landscape conference – February 2014



City of Mandeville/ La Dept of Transportation model of prairie – planted and managed by Pastorek Habitats, llc. Established in November 2014 – and not mowed or “weeded” even once. Controlled burn, only once in three years.


C’est Magnifique!



Bluestem grass is really going gangbusters right now, in full color and glory. Very pretty.





Doll’s Daisy just beginning to flower among the Bluestems in the garden

late summer and fall blooming Coreopsis linifolia is in its glory now and the bees and butterflies know it

The goal: to build multiple models of magnificence, to let the gardens speak for themselves – they seem to have a lot to say.


Vernon Fuselier’s home grown prairie gardens double as forage crop. Indian grass and Little Bluestem grasses dominate in some areas providing a strikingly beautiful landscape scene.

Odd things happen in a prairie garden. Fuselier’s prairie, Eunice, Louisiana


Louisiana Art and Science Museum, Baton Rouge, La.

Indian grass is the punk rocker of prairie plants – always making a scene


US Army is ready for anything

City of Franklinton, Washington Parish, Louisiana – US Army National Guard Readiness Center – native grass gardens and solar panels – a perfect pairing

radiant Indian grass seed heads

grassy bioswale with temporary zinnia cover crop still hanging on and productive after a year – butterfly numbers were amazing – Gulf Fritillary on pink California Giant zinnia flower


City of New Iberia/ La Dept of Transportation – Tallgrass Prairie garden – La 90 at La 83

Ryan Duhon (DOT) and James Foret (ULL) – prairie instigators


Brady’s Garden at the Oswalt Nature Trail on the campus of Copiah-Lincoln Community College

Brady Dunaway, in yellow shirt, and his fellow student volunteers make up the prairieĀ  planting crew – November 2015

nice dense stands of Bluestem grass and Spotted Horse Mint with stellar population of Woods Gaillardia piunctuated by Lobelia puberula – that’s living.


prairies vary

St Landry Parish Louisiana, September 8, 2017

restored prairies are fountains of wondrous knowledge waiting to be explored, experienced.


flower power

Patience is not simply the ability to wait, it’s how we act while we’re waiting

—Ā  Joyce Meyer

silphium integrifolia above

Silphium laciniata

Silphium gracile

Heterotheca subaxilaris, above

Liatris aspera

Salvia azurea and Big Bluestm with Cambell house in backround

Cambell House, in white




Experimental colorĀ  –Ā  Wes Michaels, William Tietje, Marc Pastorek




Allowing for space

Allow for space. It’s as important as playing the note.Ā Ā Ā  George Porter Jr. – New OrleansĀ  bassist/ musician


Mandeville meadow gardens July 30, 2017

meadow gardens are wrapped by manicured turf and perfect timing

Native grasses nurture native wildflowers, having grown together for thousands of years, they’ve developed a common bond, a symbiotic relationship – a push and pull of sorts, a ying and a yang.

subtle layers and patterns and contrasts…



Hammond prairie meadow blocks, form garden symmetry

July 31, 2017

Shaggy chic!Ā  Magnifique! Oui!



Terese’s Abita Springs residence backyard preserve with pizazz.

July 29,2017

reducing carbon footprint – taking giant-leap steps of practicality


Carriere, Mississippi grid garden

structured wildness


Folsom, Louisiana meadow gardens – flowering rooms

designed paths widen and narrow at the behest of a mower

This Folsom meadow garden is laden with tens of thousands of flowers of Narrow Leafed Mountain Mint (Picnanthemum tenuifolium), Button Snakeroots, Bee Balms. Summer flowering plants shine and then finally fade, bowing to late summer Asters, Goldenrods, Blazing Stars, Swamp Sunflowers and False Foxgloves. All of these are accompanied by the ever present beauty and character and delicacy of native grasses, the essential structural bones of the garden. Grasses are winter cover for pollinating insects. Insects, like Butterflies and Skippers overwinter in open, sunny, unmowed fields like prairie meadows and fallow fields.

Mowing some: good.

Mowing all: not good.


Abita Flatwoods Preserve Hillside Bog – spacial patterns

July 30, 2017

trees and shrubs in green, and herbs and grasses in reddish brown, patterns of form and color, appear in ancient relict vegetation.



Vidrine gardens part of August 26 prairie field day

Vidrine Garden part of late summer prairie garden field day

Malcolm Vidrine will lead a tour of his amazing prairie garden during the Cajun Prairie field day event to be held August 26, beginning at Eunice prairie restoration project at 8:00 and culminating with a tour of Vernon Fuselier’s prairie gardens just around the corner from Dr Vidrine’s. see Malcolm’s blog site at link below.



Louisiana-genetic Lanceleaf Blanketflower puts down roots in Israel!

Danziger Farm, a cut flower nursery in Mishmar Hashiva, a town near Tel Aviv is growing our seed, collected originally in the wild near Folsom, Louisiana. Thanks to Dafna Nir Zvi!


Pearl River County Mississippi Master Gardeners to tour Pastorek Habitats’ prairie fields in Carriere, Mississippi – September 1, 2017

Kansas Blazing stars (not just native to Kansas)(they’re not in Kansas anymore) are starting to blaze in our prairie and Pine herbaceous understory seed fields. Seed was originally collected from plants in Frey Prairie, St Landry Parish, back 20 years ago.


prairie at the end of the rainbow, for sure – the Ponchartrain Causeway – Its called the “Cause-way” – ’cause I only cross it if I have to…


Covington Nature Trails grant construction work nearly complete

doesn’t look like much but very nice vegetation on the ground under foot.


Riverfront Plaza in Baton Rouge prairie design and management plan – by Pastorek Habitats llc

Baton Rouges Riverfront plaza, one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the City will be gifted authentic prairie vegetation for all to enjoy.




New Orleans’ Scout Island still kicking after 8 years. Well sort of… Ā  šŸ˜¦

Little Bluestem grasses, an key indicator species of seeded/ restored prairie health, are fighting for their lives at the corner Harrison Avenue and Diagonal Drive in New Orleans City Park.

two areas, above and below, where they’re mowing in two of the best parts of the prairie. ouch! git that mower outta there ya’ll. Aye-yiyi!


ADYC – another dang yellow composite

Silphium integrifolium, Covington, La. garden

Silphiums plants are rare birds. They’re indicators of high quality vegetation and are highly desirable garden plants – nectar plants highly sought after by butterflies, skippers, Hummingbirds and many other beneficial insects. Silphiums are also indicators of great gardens! …and gardeners. ha

The seeds of Silphium are extremely high in oil content and are very attractive to song birds when they ripen. They are also beautiful flowering plants, this one, Silphium integrifolium, originally from seed from a plant I found with Gail Barton on one of our field trips Jackson soil prairies – collected over 15 years ago in Scott County Mississippi, reaches about six feet in height. A super duper wildlife plant – the John Wayne of the Jackson soil prairie – big and tall and manly and rides high in the saddle.Ā  :))

Silphiums have huge fleshy roots that can reach down to fifteen feet deep into the ground.

They germinate pretty easily but take a few or more years to mature and make flower.


Prairies are basically expanses of root masses that regenerate each spring and go dormant each fall – masses of grass roots that cover and hold soil permanently. Prairies are “woven, inextricable, and kaleidoscopic in character”.


click to see the maiden voyage of the Pastorek Habitats drone, the USS Fleabane, over one of the Mandeville, Louisiana prairie gardens. Still working out the aerial technique.


rain lilies are as easy as gardening gets

rain lilly in my garden

sometimes called Red Neck Crocus or the Crocus of the South, rain lilies are dependable garden plants that take years to establish, but you’ll enjoy the rewards of your effort for a very long time.

Atamasco lily, Phlox, Meadow Rue, native Onion, and Violet – above

Rain Lilies – Atamascos, in April Scott County, Mississippi

some species of Rain Lilies like heavy wet soils

…so they’re very adaptable plants…..

Some like arid conditions and can be used in pots here in the Central Gulf Coastal plain as permanent plants that flower and foliage as they please through the summer

Rain lilies, if treated well will naturalize and multiply to impress.

Zephyranthes citrina of Marconi Drive in City Park New Orleans

I will never forget seeing miles and miles of white Rain Lilies in bloom once twenty years ago in Pass Christian, in the median, on the east side of the bay bridge. Stunningly beautiful landscape it was indeed. That was before cell phones. Didn’t get a photo. Check out Scott Ogden’s Bulbs of the South for details on most. Its the bomb.


for the fun of it

Carex, left foreground – Blackeyed Susie, center – Indian grass and Celosia Cramer’s Amazon

Celosias bring in bees and butterflies and are simple to grow from seed, in fact they’re sometimes weedy. I like the height of this plant, over six feet

Hibiscus kosteletskya var Immaculate at Walter Anderson ceramic

tropical Salvias are exceptional Hummingbird attracting plants – Hybrid, Wendy’s Wish is not only pretty but perennial and the flowers are extremely fragrant – smells so good, like roses.

Purple Majesty or Amistad Salvia (two different hybrids that) are nearly identicle. Everblooming all spring through summer and fall to first frost. In New Orleans they will bloom almost all year.

This is Amistad, center, measuring nine feet across and five feet tall. It has over 80 flowering bracts. Humming birds visit it all day long.


cool Pale Coneflowers and some Button Snakeroots via Gail Barton of Meridian, Mississippi. She has what you call a green thumb when it comes to prairie propagatin’. These go to University of Louisiana, Lafayette’s new prairie garden. Go Gail!


White Leafed Mt Mint, a great prairie plant, makes a good, almost evergreen companion for ornamental pots. I have trimmed this one occasionally to keep it short and squat. One of my favorite prairie plants, This Mt Mint is tame, beautiful and will last longer than you.


Twistleaf Goldenrod plants ready for Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Gardens, Baton Rouge. Got some rare seed from Botanist Chris Reid last fall, Solidago tortifolia, from one of the cool Ranch prairies in southwest La. Grew off about 75 seedlings, only four made the cut. Too much rain this spring/ root rot. These are four healthy three-gallon plants ready for the W&F native plant garden on Quail Drive. The garden is a labor of love –Ā  something to see.


Five gallon bucket earthworm farm makes awesome soil

I bought a little sack of night crawlers a year or so ago and kept giving them coffee grinds and veggie scraps,Ā  and an occasional corn meal dusting, etc. I got so good at running the farm I got another bucket and before you know it I was in the compost business – the best compost! Used some to plant my fall tomato and cucumber crop yesterday. Nice.


speaking of fun in the garden……

Dr. Charles Allen’s chicken coop garden

In the giant footprint of his circular chicken coop, Dr. Allen designed a zinnia garden, one of many types of gardens he has developed to attract and study rare insects.


more from Dr. Allen….





when the back forty is your grocery store

If you have not seen Dr. Charles Allen’s edible plant demonstration before, not doubt you’ll find it interesting, entertaining, and delicious! See him describe and offer tastes of prepared and natural herb leaves, teas, and breads – Sunday in New Orleans.

Dr. Allen is a botanist and one of the leading authorities on wild plants and their plant communities. He is also a skilled prairie ecologist, one of the prairie pioneers of Louisiana. He and Malcolm Vidrine basically “rediscovered the Louisiana prairies” – once thought to be extinct.

Not many people I know can entertain a group by botanizing at a gas station – while filling up – but I have seen Dr. Allen find the most amazing plants hidden in the oddest places – behind the tire air pump or growing in the mowed lawn, where most people, including myself, would pass them by.

Longue View Gardens, hosting native edible plant lecture, below link.


prairies are gardens

At the prairie Farm

seedling color variation in Monarda fistulosa. seed origin – Cajun Prairie

typical color

a darker variation

possibly Monarda lindhiemeri


bees love the stuff!!



Slender Celery in the Sideyard

its hard to capture the aura of the planting in photography, but I tried šŸ™‚

It was rad.

St. Tammany, Louisiana




Greg Grant is one of the most prolific gardeners. I first met him at the Southern Garden History meeting in Brehnan, Texas in 1990. Greg reintroduced the South to some of its own best heirloom plants – brought old timey plants back into the horticulture trade. He bought a mix of seed from us for this pine prairie restoration project below in video.

his blog……Ā Ā  https://arborgate.com/blog/





Maidencane grass,Ā  Vermillion parish ditch

Maidencane grass Cameron Parish wet prairie

Cameron Parish wet prairie, LouisianaĀ  June 9, 2017

a fuzzy leafed Hibiscus about to form bloom buds – Hibiscus leucophyllus



what happens if we don’t save prairie and conserve natural land?



John Weaver drawing of prairie roots from the 1930’s


tour of Harrell Prairie Botanical Area Bienville National Forest with Mississippi State Botanist Heather Sullivan, Saturday, June 17






Doug and Mary’s prairie garden in Folsom was stunningly beautiful yesterday. Dropped in to catch some photos, to see progress. Three years time from seed and looking lovely, with many flowering Button Snakeroots, Narrow Leafed Mountain Mints, Black Eyed Susies and Bee Balms.

good day all!


prairie – medicine for the earth

Lincoln Parish prairie/ pollinator habitat gardens, planted at the request of the Louisiana Department of Transportation for the Rest Area – Welcome Center in Tremont, Louisiana, between Monroe and Ruston on Interstate-20

our old planting of perennial prairieĀ  plant community species, above, from spring of last year, is on the right (in green) and the planting done this spring is on the left in yellow. The annual color, stabilization species are the yellow, Coereopsis tinctoria, the prairie species are just now germinating, under and in conjunction with, the Coreopsis. Some areas of the planting from last year are a bit sparse, as you can see in the photo, but this is typical.

above, a yearling seedling of Prairie Sage, Salvia azurea, breaks through the clay-sand subsoil crust.



last year’s prairie planting

I used annual color last year that’s quite happy filling in the gaps between pioneering prairie perennials. For prairie plants , which are most all perennials, Dr Vidrine says, “the first year they sleep, the second year they creep, THE THIRD YEAR THEY LEAP!!!” Ā Ā  šŸ™‚

Perennial plants are permanent plants but they take a few years of growing and concentrating their energy on roots and then they begin to mature and flower and compete in the landscape for space, sunlight, moisture, nutrients and root zone. Perennial prairie gardens are self-proliferating, ever-increasing in biomass both above and below ground.

prairie is subtle, sublime.

many Bees, Butterflies and Dragon Flies were partaking, enjoying the soup dejour.

some nice patches of Brownseed Paspalum grass (in hand), starting to mature, emerge from the velvety Bluestem grass masses.

A single cherished plant of Rough Leafed Goldenrod introduces itself

a few Sweet Scented Camphorweeds were showing their purple-silvery foliage

Centaurea americana

The rock-star annual American Basketflower/ American Bachelor Button can’t be beat


West Monroe’s, Ouachita Parish, La., Kiroli Park Prairie Garden

Lots of really good species developing in the gardens, and consistently throughout. Lots of Monarda fistulosa and Monarda punctata getting ready to flower – so all through June the garden will be lit up with fragrant minty color – both of these are just budded up now.

The most significant plant found so far from our seeding was this, above, singular Pale Coneflower, Rudbeckia Pallida.


Native Prairie Gardens at Hammond Research Station, flourishing

Rudbeckia nidita

above, the Care and Maintenance Gardens are demonstration, research areas designed and managed by Dr. Yan Chen – developed in the last few years in order to provide a venue for native prairie species grow, to gain more acceptance in the horticulture industry through the Station’s active Field Day forums. All of the seed they’ve used for the gardens has been donated by our firm.

above, the “sand box gardens” were attempted using a variation of one of Dr. James Hitchmough’s (University of Sheffield, UK) seeding techniques. The gardens are set in a grid with mowed strips between. The gardens were literally buzzing with happy insect species. Looking good, Dr. Yan!

New Gardens of Bluestem grass mass gardens have been planted to determine sufficient spacing for naturalized, native grass landscapes planted via nursery grown plants. There are four large gardens, planted last year from nursery plants grown from Pastorek donated seed.


Mississippi State Department of Transportation Conservation-Preservation Effort NEEDED on Interstate Highway 55, from Osyka to Brookhaven

an odd-colored rudbeckia hirta

rudbeckia hirta

Slender Bluestem grass. ahhhhhhh….

helinium flexuosa

green milkweed


some of the most amazing and beautiful gardenesque prairies – miles and miles of them – exist on Interstate 55 in southwestern Mississippi, running through the southern part of Hinds County and all through Copiah, Lincoln and Pike Counties. These are, in some cases, worth stopping and viewing and if your lucky, load up with some Green Milkweed seeds!

Life is good. Make it fun!



the struggle of life is not won with one glorious moment – but a continual in which you keep your dignity in tact and your powers at work, over a long course of a life time.

Roger Wilkins


Very nice words indeed – rest in peace Mr. Wilkins.


If you don’t act, the dangers become strongerĀ  Ai Wei wei