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 prairie  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

—  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 color  –  Wes Michaels, William Tietje, Marc Pastorek




Allowing for space

Allow for space. It’s as important as playing the note.    George Porter Jr. – New Orleans  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!  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…   😦

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.  :))

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 –  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,  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 🙂

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……





Maidencane grass,  Vermillion parish ditch

Maidencane grass Cameron Parish wet prairie

Cameron Parish wet prairie, Louisiana  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 prairie  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!!!”    🙂

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 stronger  Ai Wei wei

Cooter’s Bog/ Kisatchie field trips, May 19-21

Great scientists are artists as well.     Albert Einstein


Dr. Charles Allen will host the 27th annual Bogs and Baygalls event, this Saturday May 19-21. Dr Allen and and the late Robert Murry have hosted this botanical event each year, highlighting some of the most impressive landscape-scale natural areas in Louisiana. The field trip to Cooter’s Bog is set for Saturday morning. If you’ve never seen grass pink orchids, you probly aught to be there. 🙂   Dr. Allen’s property backs up to Kisatchie National Forest, in Vernon Parish. His gardens are unique and mostly focused on Butterfly and Hummingbird Moth attraction. His plant collection is far out, man. He and I burned his prairie garden this February so it should be busting at the seams with flower activity.



Friday, May 19, 2017
2 pm:  Plant ID and butterfly plant workshop.  Dr. Charles Allen will lead the workshop.  Meet at Allen Acres.  We will see the national champion Large Gallberry tree on nearby Forest Service land.  See directions to Allen Acres below.

6 pm-till:  Potluck supper (dinner), slides, networking, etc.  Allen Acres (For directions, see below).  We also will count fireflys and go sheeting (mothing), spider eyes, and maybe hear owls, chuck will’s widows and ?
Saturday, May 20, 2017:

9 am:  “Forest Service Traditional BBBBB” Tours of Bogs and Baygalls: Meet at Allen Acres (See below) and we will caravan to the sites.  Tours will include pitcher plant bogs, upland areas, and other ecosystems.  Orchids, pitcher plants, and other interesting plants should be seen.  Several different kinds of birds including the red cockaded woodpecker, butterflies, and other animals might be encountered.  Bring your own snacks, water, or other beverages.  The bogs are wet so dress accordingly.

12 noon-1:30 pm:  Lunch, at Allen Acres.  “Susan’s Chinese Food” (Donations Accepted)

1:30 pm:  Betty Kaufman presentation

3 PM “Afternoon Field Trip” Depending on group’s interests etc.  Begin from Allen Acres (see below)

6:00 pm till Supper (dinner), net-working, slides, etc.  We also will count fireflys and go sheeting (mothing), spider eyes, and maybe hear owls, chuck will’s widows and ?

Sunday May 21, 2017:

9 am:  “Sunday Morning Field Trip” Depending on group’s interests etc.  Begin from Allen Acres (see below)

For more information, contact Dr. Charles Allen or Susan Allen 337-328-2252 email  You are invited to stay in the B and B (

Directions to our house: From the east sides of the state, get on La 10 going west out of Oakdale and follow La 10 thru Elizabeth and Pitkin and then six miles past Pitkin, you will enter Cravens.  In Cravens you will turn south (left) onto La 399.  La 399 is just east of the two stores in Cravens.  If you are coming from the west, you will turn onto La 10 at Pickering and follow La 10 just south of Ft Polk and continue east for about 15 miles.  After entering Cravens, watch for the store on the right and then turn right onto La 399.  Now all are on La 399, follow it south for 1.8-1.9 miles and in a sharp curve to the left, turn right into our driveway.  If you are coming from the south, get on La 112 (an east-west road) just se of DeRidder and turn north onto La 399.  You will travel north on La 399 for six miles and turn left into Allen Acres.    


At the Farm

Frey Prairie restoration at the Farm in Pearl River County, Mississippi –  last week – above, high quality prairie vegetation with last year’s growth mixed in. I willl be burning this in the near future.

some really nice patches of white Barbara’s Buttons, M. trinervia

Asclepias obovata – a native Milkweed

a one-year-old seedling of Skeleton grass, seeded three years ago. Many are showing up, by the hundreds. How delightful!

Narrow-leafed Mountain Mint provides nectar for many insects

the bronze-colored leaf shades of Rough-leafed Goldenrod

Pale purple cone flower

recruitment of thousands of seedlings of Hyssopleaf Thoroughwort showing up amongst the Bluestem grasses

Lindhiemer’s Bee Balm

the largest stands that I’ve seen of Bee Balm are in my seed fields at the farm

Passiflora vine is for Fritillaries

Boom! Legume!  Coral Bean and my old greenhouse wood heater

Several Legumes, Tephrosia carolina (above) and Tephrosia onobrychoides, Strophostyles, Lespedezas, Crotolaria, Baptisias are commmon in the fields at the Farm. The wonderfully prolific annual bean, Partridge Pea, covers the ground of the fields (where once there was none) – with hundreds of thousands of plants – available to the abundance of Sulfur Butterflies that flutter about on sunny days.

My cup (trailer) runneth over. 🙂

I worked in the field this week on my vacay, cutting and gathering dead trees and vines to haul to the burn pile. Gotter done. Had big fun.



Nice Button Snakeroots at Doug and Mary’s house in Folsom, St. Tammany Parish, La.


mowed paths for walking and viewing

Inverting the ratio of garden to mowed area conserves natural resources and preserves native genetics.

Narrow Leaf Mountain Mint is a prolific plant

an ocean of narrow leafed Mountain Mint – millions of cool prairie flowers


City Park’s Pastorek Habitats-inspired cosmos pollinator gardens are pretty lately. A photo from my brother Guy, of his Grand daughter Garcie Pastorek last week.


Every artist is an activist.   Ai Weiwei


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



Matthew Herron talk- origins, ecology, and conservation of southeastern prairies

Matthew Herron, biologist, naturalist and native plant enthusiast, will speak to the Cajun Prairie Society Field Day group – the title and general description of his talk is…..
“Southeastern Prairies: Origins, Ecology and Conservation
This talk will review some of the geology and biogeography surrounding southeastern prairies, aiming to frame Cajun Prairies within the broader landscape of the rich southeastern flora. We will make a round trip to various prairies and prairie like systems for better context and look at how principles in plant ecology can help us appreciate the diversity of prairie flora. We will then look forward to current opportunities for conservation, education and restoration.”

Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society Meeting

April 08, 2017

8:00 AM:  Tours of Duralde Restored Prairie.
10:00 AM:   Eunice Restored Prairies
12 noon   Lunch with a Society business meeting and speaker, at Rocky’s Restaurant located at 1415 E Laurel Ave, Eunice, LA 70535  (337) 457-6999.

 Seed and Plant Auction at the end of the meeting
seed list so far
  • Andropogon elliotti   Washington Parish
  • Schizachirium scoparium  Jeff Davis Parish
  • Andropogon ternarius  Acadiana
  • Sorghastrum elliotti – Wash Parish
  • Sorghastrum nutans – Acadiana
  • Aristida purpurascens  Acadiana
  • Monarda lindhiemeri Eunice prairie
  • Monarda fistulosum Washington Parish
  • Gaillardia aesitivalus Washington Parish
  • Gaillardia aesitivalus var winklerii (Texas, eww)
  • Cajun Prairie seed mix
  • St Tammany Parish/ Tangipahoa flatwoods seed mix
 plant list
  • variegated Manfreda virginica Frey Prairie origin
  • Elliott’s Indian grass   Wash Parish
  • Pychnanthemum albescens La/Ms genes
  • Pycnanthemum albescens “Malcolm Mint/ spearmint” Acadiana
  • dwarf Switch grass   Acadiana
  • dwarf Indian grass  Mississippi Gail Barton origin
  • dwarf Eastern Gamma grass cajun prairie origin
  • Brooksville, Ms. Blue Switch grass   Gail Barton
  • Big Bluestem Acadiana
  • Little Bluestem grass  Acadiana
  • sporobolus junceus Acadiana origin
  • eryngium yuccafolia  Acadiana origin
  • Eupatorium hyssopifolia  Acadiana
  • Rudbeckia nidita var texana
  • Indian grass Acadiana
  • Tridens flavus

from Steven Dale Nevitt

  • Echinacea pallida                            LA
  • Echinacea purpurea                        LA
  • Baptisia alba                                  Cajun prairie
  • Gaillardia aestivalis                       Acadiana
  • Indian grass, blue leaf selection      Cajun prairie
  • Sideoats grama                            Cameron parish
  • Iris nelsonii                                 Vermilion parish
  • Rudbeckia maxima                         LA
From Dr. Malcolm Vidrine’s Iris collection…. “I will be bringing some young Louisiana Iris and, some old ones.”
just sayin’,
hanging out with Charles Allen, you can learn some stuff. The brilliance just oozes from his pores (ooh gros, I know!). His gardens are amazing, all filled with flowers for specific groups of awesome insects – scientific studies, each one.
Its elementary, my dear Watson.
I burned Dr. Allen’s meadow garden and got time to gossip and to see what was visiting on his moth sheets. Yes, I said moth sheets. He monitors the lamp-lit sheets in early evening and in pre-dawn morning. He has identified over 540 species so far, in the last year or so.
cool waspy
sphinx moth eats Virginia Creeper and Muscadines. nummy
Pardon, this is supposed to be significant but I can’t remember why, duh
Luna Moth caterpillars eat Hickory, Sweet Gum and Walnut.
If I were as smart as Charles, I could tell you what this is. ha
we got some really good fire in his meadow field. Some really robust flamage for sure. Burnt up some stuff. There was a big sigh of relief when we were complete.  ahhh… feeling the burn.
Duralde prairie demo 2-acre grid garden is producing some great stands of plants these days from seed we planted
a ten foot by twelve foot rectangle full of Eryngium yuccafolia seedlings, three years old
above, a very sound planting of Rudbeckia grandiflora. We designed a grid garden, planting eighty rectangles using cool Cajun Prairie seed.
adjacent to the demo garden is a prairie field dotted by a hundred  thousand Erigeron strigosus. In the distance, an old diversity strip we planted, seed collections back ten years ago from Eunice restored site. The grid garden is located in the 330 acre restored prairie at Duralde owned by Lacassinne National Wildlife Refuge, restored via Cajun Prairie Society, managed in partnership with Lacassinne and CP Society.


Malcolm Vidrine’s garden is so fun to see
Malcolm has a bossanova collection of Spiderwort collorations
Propagating pots of a lipstick pink Tradescantia
Dr. Vidrine with variations of Prairie Phlox flowers, below
His nursery is packed full of interesting research and development propagation experiments. Most are successful. All are interesting
Manure tea used for fertilizing seedlings = healthy plants and flowers.
seedling Rudbeckia subtomentosa, above
a pot packed with yearling seedlings of Asclepias perennis
Bluestars at peak flower in the garden
Eunice Prairie response to burn is telling
below, day of the controlled burn, just before we started February 17th, 8:00 am
 above, one month later, March 18th, 7:30 am
above, March 18th, 8:30 am
above, March 18th,12:00 pm
lots of PocPoc Plants – Baptisia spherocarpa
a Big Bluestem grass mass
Amsonias – Blue Stars and Baptisias
Bee Balm on an micro-relief ant pile
Liatris – a clump of Blazingstar

that there’s some pretty ground, folks.