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field trip to Meadowmakers Wildflower Seed Farm/Lipkin Hill botanical area

FIELD-DAY/ FIELD-TRIP  May 4, 2013 contact MARC PASTOREK at 504 296 8162  or meadowmakers@gmail.com   for more information

and bring your boots because there’s been a ton of rain in the last four days!

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Dr. Charles M. Allen, botanist at Ft. Polk, Louisiana, pioneering prairie restoration ecologist, and reigning king of the one-liner(Native Ventures http://www.nativeventures.net/) and Marc Pastorek will lead a field trip through Meadowmakers’ wildflower seed fields on May 4 in the Henleyfield community, Carriere, Mississippi. Henleyfield is a tiny community along the river road of the Pearl River on the Mississippi side, (Miss state highway 43), between Picayune Mississippi and Bogalusa, Louisiana). The trip through this ten acre field will start at 10:00 a.m.  It is a joint field trip by the Mississippi and Louisiana Native Plant Societies.

After we visit, we will partake in a bring-your-own pic-nic lunch(at Meadowmakers) under the cool of large oak trees(with refreshments provided) and then we’ll head to Lipkin Hill Botanical area in the Old River Wildlife Management Area, a few miles away. Lipkin Hill is the most southern bluff along the east edge of the Pearl River, representing Appalachia, with very old populations of native camellia, Stewartia Malacodendron, Pyramid and Cowcumber Magnolia along with many other uncommon woody and herbaceous species. The large west facing bluff on Lipkin Hill drops down to the Tupelo-Cypress floodplain of the Pearl where a turn-of-the-century rail bed for an old logging spur can still be found.

Lipkin Hill is a destination that until recently, could not be reached do to excessive timber fall from Hurricane Katrina. However, the path is now clear. And the walk into the site is not difficult; just a quarter mile or so walk to hike in.

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above: big leaf magnolia and stewartia at Lipkin Hill Botanical Area

SEE THIS LINK    http://picayuneitem.com/x1488642765/Hidden-treasures-in-Henleyfield

To get to Meadowmakers Farm, you can gps #70 Fox Run North, Carriere, Mississippi or:

From Bogalusa, La. Go east on Mississippi Highway 26, about three miles to Highway 43. turn right, toward Picayune. Go about five miles and on the right you will see Fortenberry’s slaughter house(they’ve got some good farm-raised Australian deer sausage products). Once you’ve passed Fortenberry’s, you’ll pass the Baptist Church on the right and 300 feet past the church will be a road to the left, Charles Daughdrill Rd. Take the left here and proceed for a 1/4 mile when the road splits. Take a hard left here and go about a mile until the road dead-ends at a stop sign. Turn right at the stop sign and follow the road(Carrie Byrd Rd.) for a quarter mile to Fox Run North, on the right. Once on Fox Run, go straight for 300 ft to the entrance gate of Meadowmakers

From Poplarville, Ms. Go west on Mississippi Highway 26. Go approximately 15 miles on 26 til you come to Highway 43. Take a left toward picayune(south). Go about five miles and on the right you will see Fortenberry’s slaughter house(they’ve got some good sausage products). Once you’ve passed Fortenberry’s, you’ll pass the Baptist Church and 300 feet past the church will be a road to the left, Charles Daughdrill Rd. Take the left here and proceed for a 1/4 mile when the road splits. Take a hard left here and go about a mile until the road dead-ends at a stop sign. Turn right at the stop sign and follow this road (Carrie Byrd Rd.) for a quarter mile to Fox Run North, on the right. Once on Fox Run, go straight for 300 ft to the entrance gate of Meadowmakers

From Picayune, Ms. Go north on Highway 43 for fifteen miles. After 15 miles, you will see an old BP gas station on the right and across, will be a community Center/ Ball field on the left. Continue for approximately one mile until you see a water tower(your landmark) on the right. Slow down here and take a right turn when you are adjacent to the water tower, onto Charles Daughdrill Rd. Proceed for a 1/4 mile when the road splits. Take a hard left here and go about a mile until the road dead-ends at a stop sign. Turn right at the stop sign and follow the road(Carrie Byrd Rd.) for a quarter mile to Fox Run North, on the right. Once on Fox Run, go straight for 300 ft to the entrance gate of Meadowmakers

A Backyard Micro-Prairie

I had thirty minutes to kill, waiting for an appointment time the other day when I was coming into Maurice, Louisiana, so I thought I would call Angela Trahan. Angela works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services division, as a Coastal Restoration Biologist. She and her husband bought some cajun prairie seed mix from me last November for a small prairie garden in their back yard of about a quarter acre,  square in shape. She was at work and said I was welcome to go by and see what I thought. She said the neighbors had been asking questions like, ”What are ya’ll doin’ there?”

The Trahan prairie planting, near Maurice, La

The Trahans had done several tillings and an herbicide spraying last summer to kill germinating weed seeds and she put the seed cajun prairie seed out in November, about the time the severe drought in southwest Louisiana broke. It has regularly rained ever since. My initial look at the site was one of doubt, but as I parted the head-high prairie tide and walked in to see, I saw it was littered pretty well with dog fennel, a weedy disturbance-dependent plant. But for the most part, the planting is doing very well, with about thirty species counted, in all of my quick zig-zagging through. It was pretty thick with Wooly Croton or Dove weed, croton capitata., which was part of the seed mix. There were significant species scattered consistently, through the whole of the plot.

It’s always fun to see grasshoppers and skipper butterflies (those are really small and fast: they don’t loiter much). They burst ahead of me by the score as I pushed a path through the foliage. I remember reading once that plenty of grasshoppers in a prairie signals a healthy habitat. The more grasshoppers, the healthier the habitat. I took a bunch of pics and made some mental notes and got out of there in time for my appointment. There were lots of really cool plants in the prairie and in less than one year, the vegetation had grown to about seventy percent coverage by targeted/ seeded species. Its only the beginning. Time will draw the prairie closer to the ground as the shorter grasses and wildflowers take over.  The weedy looking plants like dog fennel will decline and go away while the rare, high conservancy species, will take over. Each year, it will change and morph somewhat, revealing new species that had made enough root to finally support a blossom. It will slowly reveal the biodiversity garden.

Their fenced dog barked and sounded the alarm at me for the latter part of my visit. He didn’t like me messing around on his turf. Best of all of the finds was a way-cool spider. It was plump. I suspect it was making a pretty good living in those weeds.

I’m not actually holding the spider, my hand is just behind the web he is on. For scale and for scare.

Hibiscus Mosheutos seedling from Malcolm Vidrine’s garden, waiting for a good burn so it can get back into the race.