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.

A hunk of burnin’ love

I’m just a hunk, a hunk of burnin’ love. oooooh!

Elvis Presley


No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it, and is sure of his method and composition.

Claude Monet


Most people are uninformed.  Marc G. Pastorek


Pastorek Habitats Seed Farm receives the gift of nurturing, natural fire, Monday, February 20, 2017, Carriere, Mississippi, Pearl River County


boring landscape? I think not.


a few bubbly Baptisias, the Cajuns call them Poc-poc plants


hidden in the fluff are thousands upon thousands of emerging Prairie Parsley plants


Muhlenbergia expansa wading into Bluestem grass


and a white-lavendar seedling of Prairie Phlox


about 1:00, after getting protective north and west black lines in place, above


about 3:00, working on east black line


picturesque flames


testing head winds


backing fire working under Long Leaf pines where pine needles are concentrated, where fire intensity is greatest


about 7:00, wind whipped head fire





Tuesday, at 07:00 a.m.





Its like icing on a cake.


City of Covington’s Blue Swamp Creek Park Nature Trails burn – St. Tammany Parish, La

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We completed the third controlled burn in a week at BSC Nature Trail yesterday, a total of about three acres of restored remnant Pine prairie natural area. Thanks to Landscape Architect and the Director of Keep Covington Beautiful, Priscilla Floca, and to the Mayor of Covington, Mike Cooper, for taking the idea of a natural area landscape and running with it, for the good of the community, for sure. Yay!



12 acres of Cajun Prairie Restoration Project site, Eunice, La., St Landry Parish, Sunday, February 19, 2017 – The central Gulf coast’s original and most significant prairie habitat preservation and conservation project receives the gift flames


above, A field of weeds. Good weeds.


good lookin’ fuel load



where there’s smoke, there’s probably fire


Steve, showing off his martial arts skills.


Jacalyn Duncan, making the Earth feel better.


Thanks to Cajun Prairie Society members Jackie Duncan, Margaret Frey, Dr. Malcolm Vidrine, Jacob Delahoussey, Steve Nevett, Tommy Hillman, Chris Naquin for their help and leadership!


City of Mandeville Prairie Conservation Garden burn, St. Tammany Parish, La

The truly amazing prairie garden that some genius planted at the corner of Highway 190 and Causeway Approach Rd, got its much needed shot-in-the-arm burn yesterday. Thanks to John Broderick, who helped me do the deed.

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Thanks to Adam Perkins of Dufreche-Perkins Landscape Architecture for conceiving the idea of prairie on Mandeville’s Main Street. Thanks to Mayor Donald Villere, Louisette Scott, Catherine Casanova of the City of Mandeville for being so open to new and good gardening ideas. Thanks especially to Charles M. Allen and Malcolm F. Vidrine, who researched and developed the idea of prairie gardens in Louisiana some 30 years ago and through that work, gave me the tools to do wild and crazy garden stuff.


Terese’s Abita Springs remnant garden, St. Tammany Parish

Terese, who lives in Abita, called a couple of years ago, with an interest in developing a design for a prairie garden. I told her to “let the lawn grow and lets see whats there”. So she did and as it turns out, what she had been mowing for several years was a full blown high quality Pine flatwoods prairie remnant, chocked full of wonderful prairie plant species including many Long Leaf Milkweed plants. She has been mowing only the walking paths for a year now. She reduced her mowing by 90%, and in return, has received 90% more enjoyment.


Folks! Garden scruffiness rules!


above, Most people could not appreciate the value of this garden’s shagginess. Most people are uninformed.

Terese’s not-so-boring garden is defined by walking paths that she has designed and has mowed, leaving four different odd shaped gardens. Fire is what is needed to invigorate the plants in her garden, that were so determined to live even under the sweeping blade of a lawn mower.





Even the paths of Terese’s garden are gardens themselves. Lots of Sun Bonnets were in bloom, above, below




The first blooms are beginning, of large populations of Erigeron vernus, Early White Topped Fleabane,


many, many fleabanes


distinctive rosette of Lobelia puberula


last year’s spent flower head of Bigelowia


above, summer images before she started mowing, when we found so many Milkweeds


Speaking of Fleabanes and Butterweeds, take a gander at Highway 190, near Port Allen, Louisiana in West Baton Rouge Parish – on may way to Eunice Sunday.

this sort of shenanegans goes on for many miles, at least all the way to Eunice, St. Landry Parish, La. The white in the photo is Erigeron philadelphicus, Philadelphia Fleabane, a beautiful annual plant that fills the highways with color each spring.


Later in May, Erigeron strigosus, Prairie Fleabane, colors the roadsides on I-20 Near Forest Mississippi, Scott County. Some Fleabanes have great potential for roadside plantings


DISCLAIMER!!! People, don’t be foolish and try to burn land without someone with some serious knowledge of this science. That would be really dumb. Fire is really dangerous and can easily get away from you. Great harm can be done to property and most especially, harm can be done to humans. This is not something to take lightly. Be cool. Don’t be a fool! Fire management is an art and a useful tool but use it carefully and under the close supervision of someone who has some experience doing it.


Charles Allen Botanical Karate workshops – Edible Natives (and others)



to garden is to live!

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.
Mahatma Ghandi



City Park New Orleans Sculpture Garden team field research trip to observe the natural New Orleans garden


If ever you get a chance to see the sights along the Bayou Coquille trail at the Jean Lafitte National Park, twenty minutes south of the Crescent City, in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana – do so. Step back into the real world and observe its subtleties.


One of the many wonderful discoveries along the trail Thursday was a robust population of Thalictrum dasycarpum, Purple Meadow Rue just bolting to bloom.

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Marsh Fern was abundant in pools of water, above and below



the deep green clumps of Carex or Cyperus with Dwarf Palmetto, above and below




two Hollies, Ilex verticilata in fruit, above left, and evergeen leaves of Ilex cassine, right


dense vegetation of the running, massing, blue leafed, Shoreline Sedge, Carex hyalinolepis


Luna Moth napping along the trail


Green Garden burn, Folsom, La., February 17, 2017


the Green meadow garden has in it, zillions and zillions of flowering perennials, above,  Narrow Leaf Mt Mint, Bee Balm, Rattlesnake Master, and Hyssop-Leafed Thoroughwort etcetera



Doug Green, outstanding in his field, above


above, blue foliaged rosette of Eryngium yuccafolia in foreground, and the burgeoning flames



some good leaping “flamage” comes with the head-fire crescendo


an otherwise hidden interior path and central open-space, revealed


fisheye view of garden conflagration ha, protective black line

Tuesday was prep day making fire lines. The two photos below were taken just one hour apart, 4:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m., demonstrating what refracting light does to the color of frosted Bluestem grass




City of Mandeville prescribed fire set for this week


The Bluestem grass stand at the Mandeville Wildflower Conservation Park is extremely dense and should fuel quite a stir when lit


the burn is likely Monday about ten oclock, if the weather holds. Ya’ll come!


the two gardens, just a door or two down from City Hall, have been a delight for me – not sure about the community. I am sure people are wondering when the City will ever fix their bush hog and mow that sucker down 🙂


Link of the week!

Urban Land Magazine highlights two Pastorek Habitats design-consulting projects – Lafitte Greenway and the Louisiana Children’s Museum


Candi and Marc Pastorek, to be guests of Tulane University’s Dr. Peter Ricchiutti‘s radio program Out To Lunch, May 30th, Commander’s Palace, New Orleans, La


Dr. Mac Vidrine’s recollections of Frey Prairie

Mac’s blog post

Malcolm F. Vidrine, friend of the planet, Biologist, zoologist, prairie ecologist, pioneering gardener and author, writes a blog. check into it when you can. Here are his latest thoughts, from the school of scientific hard knocks.  – in the link below.



Cajun Prairie Society meeting April 8, 2017, Eunice, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana


Eric, center, and Brian Early, Eric’s principal assistant in the project, on right, with hard-earned Cajun prairie seed

The Cajun Prairie dogpack will meet in Eunice once again to see prairie gardens in the Eunice area. Eric Vanbergen, a 15 year-old prairie advocate and activist, will be the guest speaker at the Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society’s 30th year spring field day meeting, April 8th, 2017. Eric will share the story of the development and recent planting of a two acre prairie garden project at Ascension Episcopal school, in Youngsville, Louisiana. You will not be disappointed with this young man’s presentation, and you’ll admire his enthusiasm, I guarantee.


Rootin’ around!


who says perennials aren’t evergreen? This is yesterday, in the garden in Covington, digging a two year seedling of Rudbeckia subtomentosa, the August flowering Blackeyed Susie.


potting this up for a friend…


Paula burns her prairie


a friend who lives in New Iberia, Louisiana sent this photo of his wife, Paula, above, outstanding in her prairie field — the garden, just burned and inter-seeded with Cajun Prairie habitat seed, above.

They are restoring a tiny patch of ground in their side yard, attempting to bring nature back to an area where the Great Southwestern Prairie of Louisiana once existed.


“Butterfly – No-Mow” signs I-20 east bound Rest Area, Lincoln Parish, La.


La Dept of Transportation’s half-mile pollinator garden


not too shabby…


Tall Grass Prairie signs, Highway 190, New Iberia


Mr. Al the Live Oak and his prairie companion, hangin’ out by the highway


don’t come round here with your mower, no.


thistles are rad.


found some robust Cirsium horridulum plants in the prairie garden

Dr. Mac Vidrine says that the common thistle is a wonderful butterfly nectar plant since its so early to rise and shine. For some reason, most people have an aversion to the plant. what’s up with that?  hmmm


Keep off the prairie grass 🙂


New prairie bollards installed Tuesday at Covington’s Nature Trail park’s wetland retention basin, a native grass meadow. St. Tammany Parish, La


Gardens of Grassiness at Hamilton Hall, ULL, become Biological Classroom

Wednesday I met with Dr. Phyllis Griffard to discuss her interest in using the prairie garden at Hamilton Hall, University of Louisiana in Lafayette, for her freshman Biology class. Fun stuff. We talked about Dr. William J. Platt’s work at Chappapeela and Bio project idea possibilities that students might work out using the garden.


Red Buckeye, Red coral bean, red Louisiana iris, foreground concrete cut out



above, last week’s wintry sleepy look


and in June


Rudbeckia Texana is a nearly evergreen plant in the winter garden, always with nice n’ neat foliage year round. The only things keeping this garden from the mowers is the “pollinator” sign in the garden and a certain University Professor who demanded compliance from the mower crew supervisor and grounds manager. ha


Eastern Gamma grass, Hibiscus mosheutos, Big Bluestem and Kosteletskya virginica, above, holding court, in June. Inquisitive students planted this amazing garden a few years ago, with the help of some prairie dogs. wuff wuff!


an amazing arboretum of very old trees and garden plants lovingly wraps Hamilton Hall



dang. Live Oaks are amazing plants


prairie going mainstream, ya’ll!


Katy Prairie Conservancy – School prairie garden Houston,Texas – photo by Jaime Gonzales – Jaime is a force of nature.




Live Oak Trees: Appreciation and Care Workshop, Saturday, Covington

Live Oak Care

The non-profit group Keep Covington Beautiful will host an informative workshop this Saturday on the subject of the Live Oak tree. The KCB group has been working on care of the City’s Live Oaks and wants to promote care and appreciation for these majestic trees, in our fair City and beyond! Ya’ll come! Jimmy Culpepper will share his culture tips for these fine plants. Jim is pretty knowledgeable guy on the subject of tree growth and care.   


LSU Biology’s Conservation Biology/ Entomology 4017 to study Chappapeela Park’s prairie garden 

Dr. William J. Platt will once again use the restored prairie gardens at Chappapeela Park for his students’ field work and experimentation. Each year for four years now, the students have used data from previous classes to design and implement experiments based on the prairie vegetation in 30 one-meter-square permanently designated study plots. Dr. Platt happens to be a famously prolific scientist who has been studying prairie and Pine herbaceous vegetation for 50 years. He is one of the leading experts on the subject, and a really good guy. 🙂  Dr. Platt is the slide-guitarin’ Duane Allman of prairies. He is the person who coined the complementary term for my seed restoration work. He said, “Its totally artificial but perfectly natural.”


Louisiana Department of Transportation’s I-20 Rest Area half-mile prairie garden


Looking west at the Tremont, Louisiana Rest Area prairie garden


Bluestem grass dominant prairie – six months from seed


bluestem as thick as the har’ on a dog’s back!


above, Tens of thousands of tiny tufts of transfixing native turf in the worst dirt tilth ever!  Impressed, huh?


poor soil? we got that!!!! Rusty-red colored, cold-frosted Bluestem grass (center strip in photo above), far as the eye can see…. ..looking east……we got that, too!



driving there and back from Nort’ Loosiana, I saw miles and miles of cool natural prairie on I-55 in Mississippi – some especially killer stands of prairie grass around Wesson, in Copiah but also Lincoln and Pike County, all wearing its winter plumage. Real Nice highway decorations.

After working for many years with the Mississippi Highway folks to protect this land, they’ve come around and have installed signs designating sensitive biological areas, to keep the mower crews from making minced meat of it. Whoop-whoop!!!


Pine Savanna Restoration gardens grant work at Covington’s Nature Trail rolling along!

Lots of exciting things happening at Blue Swamp Creek Nature Trail, but mostly we are just assisting good prairie vegetation to come out of dormancy by reinvigorating this fire-suppressed plant community via drip torch. Everything you’d want is there, it just needed some coaxing to flourish again. Landscape Architect and Director of Keep Covington Beautiful, Priscilla Floca and her crew of craftsmen and craftswomen have been diligently working on the details for interpretive and other types of signage, to help visitors to the Park better understand this dynamic vegetation. BSC is a model for ecological park design right in the heart of the City of Covington.



Non-native tree of the century


Fringe tree in Covington, above

Chinese Fringe Tree is one of the best small to medium trees available for us in the central Gulf coast. A squat deciduous tree that is very showy and highly fragrant in flower and always clean green leaves that turn bright yellow in fall, with awesome winter structural form. One I planted at my old place in Mississippi in 1994-5 (not above) is amazing to see. You can’t deny a good plant, ya’ll. Git you one.


Charles Allen says this is Cranefly Orchid – Tipularia discolor

the greening up of the natural landscape here in South Louisiana starts now. Orchid leaves in Woodward, Louisiana, last weekend. Three amazing presentations at the Louisiana Native Plant Society’s annual conference. Charles Allen of Native Ventures and Jeff McMillian of Almost Eden Nursery, teamed up and spoke on butterflies species and their host plants. Quite extraordinary it was. Landscape Architect Dana Brown did a really interesting and super informative talk on the latest principals and techniques for dealing with and purifying storm water runoff. I was blown away by this presentation. She is one of the leading experts in that field of science in this part of the world. Great stuff. And finally, Latimore Smith, ecological Kung Fu artist, did his fourth degree black belt Bruce Lee-like martial arts form-of-a-rendition of the “ecology of the rare natural areas of Louisiana” and other scientific topics having to do with restoring Pine woodland herb cover. Dudes. All you could here was the wind whipping for an hour and fifteen minutes, while he was doing his form. It was awesome stuff. His talk was a condensed version of Dr. Platt Conservation Biology/ Entomology lectures which are – to die for. We live on an amazing planet, with some really smart people doing good stuff on it.



The New Orleans Sculpture Garden expansion, City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana

The design development stage has begun for the New Orleans City Park Sculpture Garden expansion which will nearly double the size of the gardens. Pastorek Habitats Inc is fortunate to have been chosen to guide the design team of Reed Hilderbrand with horticulture and ecology consulting for this very special project.


congratulations to the Hammond Research Station LSU AgCenter on burns for their native grass research plots. Dr. Regina Bracy, Dr. Allen Owings, Dr. Yan Chen, and their staff did the first controlled burns on the native grass demonstration area at the Station last week.

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how cool is that?


By Dr. Charles Allen and Jeff McMillian
Data mostly from

Pawpaw (Asimina) = Zebra Swallowtail
Sassafras = Palamedes (Laurel), Spicebush, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Red Bay = (Persea borbonia-palustris) Palamedes (Laurel) and spicebush Swallowtail
White Bay (sweetbay) = Palamedes (Laurel), Black, Eastern Tiger, spicebush Swallowtail
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) = Spicebush, Palamedes (Laurel), Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Citrus, Hopwafer, Toothache Tree = Giant and polydamas Swallowtail (Gray Hairstreak, white peacock, Painted Lady)
Cyperaceae (Carex, Cyperus, Rhynhospora, Scirpus) Georgia Satyr, Dion Skipper, Dun Skipper,
Dukes’ Skipper, Broad-winged Skipper, Eufala Skipper, Palatka Skipper, Salt Marsh Skipper
Malvaceae (Hibiscus, turk’s cap, Sida etc.) = Common Checkered-Skipper, Tropical Checkered-Skipper, Gray Hairstreak, Common
Streaky-Skipper, Red-banded Hairstreak, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Painted Lady, American Lady, White Checkered-Skipper
Poaceae (bluestems, bent grass, crabgrass, etc.) Tawny-edged Skipper, Leonard’s Skipper, Clouded Skipper,
Aaron’s Skipper, Broad-winged Skipper, Northern Pearly Eye, Eufala Skipper, Zabulon Skipper, Fiery Skipper, Northern
Broken-Dash, Gemmed Satyr, Obscure Skipper, Sachem, Southern Skipperling, Whirlabout, Common Roadside-Skipper,
Delaware Skipper, Common Wood Nymph, Crossline Skipper, Dun Skipper, Little Glassywing, Arogos Skipper, Cobweb
Skipper, Dusted Skipper, Creole Pearly Eye, Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper, Southern Pearly Eye, Neamathla
Skipper, Swarthy Skipper, Pepper and Salt Skipper, Gray Hairstreak, Least Skipper, Georgia Satyr, Common Sootywing,
Ocola Skipper, Southern Broken-Dash, Little Wood Satyr, Carolina Satyr, Dotted Skipper, Meske’s Skipper, Celia’s
Roadside-Skipper, Tawny Emperor, Salt Marsh Skipper, Yehl Skipper, painted lady, Variegated Fritillary
Legume Family Fabaceae (Desmodium, Cassia, Senna, etc.) Barred Yellow, Cassius Blue, Ceraunus Blue,
Clouded Sulphur, Cloudless Sulphur, Confused Cloudywing, Dorantes Longtail, Eastern Tailed-Blue.
Frosted Elfin, Funereal Duskywing, Gray Hairstreak, Great Purple Hairstreak, Henry’s Elfin, Hoary
Edge, Horace’s Duskywing, Juvenal’s Duskywing, Large Orange Sulphur, Little Yellow, Long-tailed
Skipper, Marine Blue , Mexican Yellow, Mottled Duskywing, Northern Cloudywing, Orange
Sulphur, Orange-barred Sulphur, Persius Duskywing, Reakirt’s Blue, Sachem, Silver-spotted Skipper,
Southern Cloudywing, Southern Dogface, White Angled-Sulphur, White-striped Longtail, Wild
Indigo Duskywing, Zarucco Duskywing, Sleepy Orange
Maypops (Passiflora)  = Gulf Fritillary, Variegated Fritillary, zebra longwing, Julia Heliconian
Pipevine (Dutchman’s pipe) (Aristolochia) = Pipevine Swallowtail
Carrot Family (Apiaceae) Parsley, Dill, Fennel, & Queen Anne’s Lace plus many native species = Eastern
Black Swallowtail
Thistle (Cirsium Carduus) = American Painted Lady, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Little Metalmark, Pearl Crescent
Hackberry American Snout, Hackberry Emperor, Mourning Cloak, Question Mark, Tawny Emperor,
Eastern Comma
Oak (Quercus) = Banded Hairstreak, Juvenal’s Duskywing, White M Hairstreak, Horace’s Duskywing,
Red-banded Hairstreak, Sleepy Duskywing, Striped Hairstreak, Red-spotted Purple,
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail,  Gray Hairstreak
Willow (Salix)  = Mourning Cloak, Red-spotted Purple, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Viceroy,  Persius Duskywing
Red Admiral, Strecker’s Giant-Skipper, striped Hairstreak
Prunus (Cherry, peach etc.) = Viceroy, Red Spotted Purple, Banded Hairstreak, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail,
Painted Lady, Spicebush Swallowtail, Spring Azure, Striped Hairstreak
Elm = Question Mark, Eastern Comma, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Mourning Cloak,  Painted Lady
Plantain (Plantago) = Common Buckeye, Painted Lady, Pearl Crescent
Purple False Foxglove (Agalinis) = Common Buckeye, Painted Lady, Pearl Crescent
Aster (Symphyotrichum) = pearl crescent, American Lady, Texan Crescent
Frogfruit (Fogfruit) (Phyla, Lipia) Phaon Crescent, Common Buckeye, white peacock
Brassicaceae (Mustard family) (cabbage, broccoli, collards, peppergrass, sea rockets) = checkered white,
great southern white, cabbage white
Asclepiadiaceae (Milkweeds*) Asclepias, Calotropis, Cynanchum, Gomphocarpus, Gonolobus,
Matelea = Monarch & Queen
Urticaceae (Boehmeria, Urtica, Laportea) American Lady, Eastern Comma, Mourning Cloak, Painted Lady,
Question Mark, Red Admiral
Humulus (Hops) Question Mark, Eastern Comma, Gray Hairstreak, Mourning Cloak, Red Admiral,
Giant swallowtail
Cottonwood (Populus) Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Mourning Cloak, Persius Duskywing, Question Mark,
Red-spotted Purple, Striped Hairstreak, Viceroy
Ragweeds (Ambrosia) Bordered Patch, Gorgone Checkerspot, Common Sootywing

(NECTAR/NON-SPECIFIC)  Charles Allen, Jeff McMillian

Achillea millefolium = Yarrow
Agalinis (Purple False Foxglove)*
Asclepias curassavica = Mexican Milkweeds*
Asclepis tuberosa = Butterfly Weed*
Aster (Symphyotrichum) (Aster)*
Bidens (Tickseed)
Cirsium spp. = Thistle*
Coreopsis spp. = Tickseed
Cosmos spp. = Cosmos
Durantia repens = golden dewdrop
Echinacea purpurea = Purple Coneflower
Eupatorium fistulosum, purpureum = Joe Pye Weed
Gaillardia spp. = Indian Blanket
Gomphrena globosa = Globe Amaranth
Ipomoea quamoclit = Cypress Vine
Liatris spp. = Blazing Stars
Monarda spp. = Bee Balm*
Pentas lanceolata = Penta
Phlox spp. = Phlox
Phyla, Lipia (Frogfruit)*
Pycnanthemum spp. = Mountain Mint*
Solidago spp. = Goldenrod
Stachytarpheta urticifolia = Porter Weed
Thunbergia alata = Climbing Black eyed Susan
Tithonia diversifolia  Mexican Sunflower
Verbena = Verbena/Vervain
Verbena canadensis (Homestead Purple)
Verbena rigida (Slender Vervain)
Verbena brasiliensis (Brazilian Vervain)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Zinnia spp. = Zinnia

Abelia grandiflora Edward Goucher
Abelia chinensis = Chinese Abelia
Buddleia spp. (X davidii) Butterfly Bush
Ceanothus americana = New Jersey Tea
Cephalanthus occidentalis  = Button Bush
Lantana = Lantana
Malvaviscus arboreus = Turk’s Cap
Vitex agnus-castus = Chaste Tree

(* = also a larval host)
Be-There or Be-Square Go-Native Events List

Event Calendar Louisiana Nature
Feb 3-5  Louisiana Native Plant Society annual meeting
Feb 7 thru Feb 9, Naked and Scarred plant id class Allen Acres
Feb 10-11  Rose Workshop, Hammond
Feb 11-12 Naked and Scarred plant id class, Allen Acres
Feb 11 Permaculture: Ecological Design for Farms and Homes; Saturday, February 11, 9 am – 5 pm
Zeitgeist Multi Disciplinary Arts Center, 1618 OC Haley Blvd, New Orleans, LA.
Permaculture: Ecological Design for Farms and Homes
Feb 18  Sabine Parish Master Gardeners Down and Dirty Garden Seminar
Feb 19 Camellia Stroll Hammond
Feb 20  President’s Day
Feb 24-25  59th annual Caddo Conference, Northwestern State University, Natchitoches

Feb 25  Texas Native Plant Society Spring Symposium  Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Feb 28  Mardi Gras

March 4, Madisonville Garden Show, Town Hall River Front, Madisonville

March 4 The North Central Louisiana Master Gardeners will hold their fifth annual seminar on Saturday, March 4 from 8 a.m. until noon at Lomax Hall of Louisiana Tech University, Ruston

Mar 11-12 edible plant class Allen Acres

March 11, Spring Garden Day, Hammond Research Station, Hammond

March 17-18, Northshore Garden and Plant Sale, St. Tammany Parish Fairgrounds, Covington

Mar 18  Camp Salmen Bio Inventory, and Monarch Waystation Creation, Slidell; Linda Auld, “BugLady”, at:

March 18-19, Baton Rouge Spring Garden Show, Parker Coliseum, LSU

Mar 17, 18, 19  Luna lookout and firefly flight.  Allen Acres.  Dark to early morning.

Mar 21-23  General plant id class Allen Acres

March 24-25  Southwest Louisiana Garden and Expo, Lake Charles

March 25-26  Edible plant class Allen Acres

Mar 30-Apr 1 national meeting of the Azalea Society of America in Hammond

April 1, Spring Plant Sale, Baton Rouge Botanic Garden, 7950 Independence Blvd., Baton Rouge

April 1, Good Earth Market, 112 Library Drive, Houma

April 4-6  General plant id class Allen Acres
April 7-8 Northeast LA Master Gardener’s plant sale, West Monroe Farmers Market
April 8  Cajun Prairie Society Meeting

April 8-9, Spring Garden Show, City Park, New Orleans

April 14-15  BREC Bioblitz Baton Rouge
April 16  Easter
April 17-19  wetlands plant id class (Allen Acres)
Apr 21-23  Grand Isle Birding Festival
April 21 and 23  Plant id class Grand Isle
April 22 Camp Salmen Bio Inventory and Monarch Waystation Creation, Slidell; Linda Auld, “BugLady”, at:

April 28-29  Plant id class, Belle Chasse,
April 30  ½ day edible workshop, Belle Chasse,
May 2-4  general plant id class (Allen Acres)
May 6-7 Edible plant class Allen Acres
May 11  Wildflowers/Louisiana using real plants at Lafayette Parish main Library  630 pm
May 13 Camp Salmen Bio Inventory and Monarch Waystation Creation, Slidell; Linda Auld, “BugLady”, at:
May 19-21  Annual BBBB with Bioblitz, Allen Acres
May 23-25  Graminoid plant id class (Allen Acres)

May 27-28  General Plant id class, Nature Trail near Columbia
May 29  Memorial Day
June 6-8 General plant id class (Allen Acres)
June 10-11 Edible Plant Class Allen Acres
June 10 Camp Salmen Bio Inventory, Slidell; Linda Auld, “BugLady”, at:
July 22-30  National Moth Week
Sept 23 Camp Salmen Bio Inventory, Slidell; Linda Auld, “BugLady”, at:

Liking it wild and woolly


grass gardens; effective, efficient, and easy on the eyes


looking east, above, at the Lamar Advertising agency grass berm garden, Corporate Blvd, Baton Rouge, La. – established in 2010 – the berm rises to about eight feet height and covers about 15,000 sq ft., separating a Live Oak shaded patio area visually and buffering  the noisy sound of the busy street.


Looking west


Looking east and west – hehe

Berm garden design by Mossop-Michaels Landscape Architecture and Pastorek Habitats, LLC



Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Main Office native plant community gardens receive shot-in-the-arm of prairie plants from farm-raised plant material


Chris Reid, above, Botanist with the State of Louisiana Natural Heritage program, holds a freshly dug clump of the rare mint scented Picnanthemum albescens cultivar commonly called “Malcolm Mint”. Chris organized the digging day, taking me up on the offer of free truckloads of farm raised Coastal prairie plants.


Chris with 15 year old seed-grown clump of Silphium asteriscus – notice the reaching roots


The dig crew worked about three hours yesterday to fill two pick-ups and a trailer.


drive-through service and then off to Baton Rouge…..


part of the digging crew and the catch of the day


Covington Nature Trail Introduction Area receives inaugural prescribed fire

Burned a small section at the new introductory trail for the Blue Swamp Creek Nature Trail this week. It was a complete success, easy goings.


We started with a strip of flaming fuel laid down by a drip torch, above, and then it was a little dab here and a little dab there until it was all finished. Kids don’t try this at home, hehe.




after several frosts, the highly combustible Mohr’s Bluestem still holds some of its striking chalky blue foliage




a grass-stage Long Leaf Pine before (above) and after (below) – the burn



A day after the burn, scorch-toasty, woody Leatherwood suckers, all browned-up.


Our first burn was August of last year in this area, below, across from this week’s burn.


Pitcher Plant/ Aquatic area at BSC Nature Trail, above, below



structural skeletons


silvery brown Rosette grass in the powerline area


light tan colored Warty Panicum – P. verrucosum is one of nature’s band-aids. It produces seed prolifically, grows tall and lays over like a drunken sailor, and mats over the other vegetation – making a fine textured fuel load – ready for pyrogenic (produced by or producing heat) transmission.


Virginia Bluestem, Little Bluestem, and Morh’s Bluestem, with ochre colored winter foliage



Chappapeela Park slope sod dons full winter regalia


Native grass gardens not only produce perfect conditions for a naturalizing wildflowers, they provide ground cover, important for all sorts of wildlife.




seed-grown Bluestem grass sod covers and stabilizes the ball field irrigation pond’s steep slopes at the City of Hammond’s, Chappapeela Sports and Recreation Park, Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana.



Some renown designer person once said, “When designing a wildscape, think like a bug!”.

A noted wildscaper and author, once said, “I like it wild and woolly!”.



Ascension High School prairie fits in a Hyundia car!


the big enchalada of seed couldn’t fit in the trunk with the rest

Eric Vanbergen, mild mannered prairie enthusiast, who happens to be just 15 years old, has employed the skills of biologist Brian Early, of Baton Rouge, for the planning and planting of Eric and his classmate’s own Ascension High School’s native butterfly garden, using the prairie landscape as its focus. Eric and Brian have gotten donations from The Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society and the Louisiana Native Plant Society in grants, and in money raised through fundraising events and from other donors for preparing the garden area for the seeding date. They’ve organized successful seed collecting events, too, during the summer and fall last year for planting what will no doubt become a regionally significant educational garden. The seeding extravaganza is today Sunday 29th, at Ascension High in Youngsville, Louisiana in Lafayette Parish.

Youngsville’s city motto is “where life is sweet”.

Life is going to be a just a little sweeter now, with an authentic newly restored Cajun prairie.


Go Brian and Eric!!


The greening of a Pineflat Buttercup pool garden


Green colors and textures – morphology – in the seven-year-old ever-changing side garden.


ephemeral pool of Iris and Rushes, Bladderworts and Buttercups




Ranunculus pusillus, Low Spearwort, above, is low but not lowly in the month of January.



Highway 26 Dwarf Eastern Gamma grass –  a sight for sore eyes.

Gardeners are always looking for the cool “new” plants, right? Well here’s a cool old plant that’s still remains relatively unknown, relatively new, many years after first being  discovered.


after I dug half and gave the clump to Chris Reid, I had him photograph me in it for scale

The cultivar Gamma grass Highway 26, originally found in Jefferson Davis Parish, this one, planted in my field several years ago, has become really well settled in, even though I’ve dug a bunch of divisions from it for visitors over those years. It stands a dense 30 inches tall at maturity, about as big as a big beach ball, with very linear, slender strapped leaves. Beach Ball Gamma would be a good trade name. There is a real need for such a plant with this small size and with this much charm and flash – in the regional nursery industry, for sure.


nice colorful Louisiana prairie meadow landscape, above


Grazing geeks who love native grass landscapes as forage for cows and other meat-source animals – natural farming – enjoy!

thank you for the link, Malcolm F. Vidrine, Phd.


cool link if you haven’t visited lately or before now…


Jim McGee – construction worker, civic activist, American patriot



Jimmy McGee, July 26 1937-January 12, 2017

My long time friend, business partner, fellow prairie builder, community leader, humanitarian, friend to all men – a man who I considered my spiritual brother, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away from this Earth a week ago Thursday. Jim and I worked together nearly every day for almost fifteen years.

Jim was a construction master, skilled in so many fields of construction – different types of hands-on, lobor-focused work. But he had a brilliant mind and a work ethic like no other person I’ve known – together Jim and I built a business. We built many different gardens and prairies all over the central Gulf south – in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.


new digging shovels, 2011, Hattiesburg, Mississippi


At Mark Y Jenkins Nursery, Amite, Louisiana


November 2010, bagging and weighing prairie seed at Ashe Seed Extractory facility, U.S. Forest Service, De Soto National Forest, Wiggins, Mississippi


Jim at Buttercup Flats, U.S. Forest Service, De Stoto National Forest, Wiggins, Mississippi


Jim was one of eleven children, three brothers and seven sisters, born in Williamsburg/Collins, Covington County, Mississippi, in the grips of the Great Depression, to the late D.C and Dora McGee, cotton-subsistence share-cropper farmers – a very hard working family – salt of the Earth people. Jim, as soon as he could, as soon as he was old enough, left home, to get away from cotton farming, work he said was difficult and often, not very prosperous –  a type of work he didn’t particularly like.

Jim worked in heavy construction work as a supervisor for 30 plus years before he and I met.

I was honored to be asked by Jim’s wife of 57 years, Mrs. Annie Lee McGee, to be one of three, to speak about Jim at his funeral ceremony at the church he worked so hard for –  for so many years, a church community he loved so much.

Never have I seen such a beautiful ceremony that included four ministers who delivered very emotional, moving sermons, two musical solos by two extraordinarily talented soloists, and the most uplifting music from the church’s full Gospel choir that nearly lifted  the church house off its foundation – very touching indeed – it was.

Saturday, hundreds of friends and relatives filled to capacity, the huge Hart’s Chapel Baptist Church, in the old railroad town of Derby, Mississippi to pay homage to Jim.


This, below, is my attempt at a eulogy for Jim. An ode to Jimmy McGee.


Jim McGee was my buddy. He was my best friend. I loved him like a brother.

Jim was one of the hardest working people I have known. Jim had what is called a strong work ethic. When there was a job to do, you could could bet the farm that Jim was going to figure out a way get it done. Give him the toughest challenge and he would accept it with joy.

But although his and our relationship was often based on getting together to work, it was much more than that. We took care of one another like brothers do.

Jim had a kind and caring, sweet soul. He had a heart of gold and wasn’t afraid to show it. He had great compassion for his fellow man.

In fifteen years that I knew him, I never saw Jim mad or upset.

Jim loved his church. He loved his God. And he loved Mrs. Annie and their sweet family so much.

Jim loved his country. He loved his farm. He loved living in America and being an American. He was a true American in every sense of the word. Jimmy McGee was one of my American heroes.

Jim was from a time, an era, that for me, was a connection to the past. Some of the stories he told me through the years were so important – ones that shed light on who he was and what used to be, what life used to be like back in the day, from his unique and optimistic perspective.

When Jim and I worked, or if we were just talking on the phone, we would laugh and carry on. We had a good time together.

When I went through a tough time, a great loss in my life several years ago, Jim was there to be my friend. He was there to assure me that things would get better. He helped me through that rough patch in the road, just like good friends do.

Mrs. Annie told me not long ago that Jim and I were like two peas in a pod. I would agree. And am proud to say that that was true.

I am certain where Jimmy is today. He is no doubt, in a heavenly, peaceful world – reunited with his family – those that have gone on, before him. He has slipped the surly bonds of Earth – he has put out his hand to touch the face of God.

I will miss him so much but I know we will meet again, in due time.

I am certain of that.
God bless Jim. And God Bless Mrs Annie, and all of the McGee Family.


On a lighter note…….

Make America a Bee Meadow Again!!!


check out a just burned Meridian bee meadow, above

Bee hives are the perfect pairing for a prairie. The two benefit from being in close proximity with one another. Just ask my friend Gail, in Meridian, Mississippi. She and her super fly husband Richard will testify about how good their homemade honey tastes on her homemade granola, combined with a little bit of Greek yogurt. mmmmm….That there’s livin’, folks!

Life s good when you can burn a prairie patch in your back forty and enjoy the flars’ and stuff and the bees and butterflies that are a-flutterin’ whilst your eatin’ your granola yogurt. Wonder what’s better’n that?

Can I get an AMEN?!!!

Only in a Merca, ya’ll!

Actually, I understand that the word meadow comes from the root word mead, which is a beer made from honey – honey from wildflower pollen and stuff. Gotta taste me some of that mead beer one day.

Gail’s garden is a collection of really cool native wildflowers and grasses.

It ain’t gotta be big to be a bee meadow, ya’ll. But isn’t bigger always better?

I ‘been trying to convince my middle sister, Niki, who lives in one of those fancy gated communities (with cool codes at the front gate), that she and her hubby need to git’ her one of these here prairie meadows. I tell her the neighbors won’t mind a bit – probably – when she and hubby burn the “back forty”.

My Meridian bud’s garden is only 20 by 50 feet in size. She collected seed in paper bags and since she’s an s’pert horticulturist type person, she grew a bunch of plugs, too and low and behold — voila!!! – five years later she gets a cool full-burn like you see in the pic.


Gail tells me it was the best burn she’s had yet. It takes some time to get a prairie up to speed by way of seed.


More far’

Speaking of burnt prairie meadows, I got a chance between storms to do a burn here at the Ponderosa yesterday.


click to enlarge the pano pic of the toasty Ponderosa pyre yesterday.


Pineville prairie project’s initial prescribed fire


The Grant residence, situated on a large imposing hilltop, near Pineville, Louisiana, in Rapides Parish is graced with a juvenile-stage three acre prairie garden.  Local landscape architect Tony Tradewell coordinated and helped design it. Tony and the Grants worked on the ideas of placement and scale of the design while utilizing my services as advisor for construction and as the seed source, for planting, etc.





Jim Foret seeds Cade Farm 3-acre Cajun Prairie and Allen Parish Welcome Center with cool local-ecotype seed


Professor Jim (also known as Possum) Foret of University of Louisiana at Lafayette, with magical seed, above, at the Allen Parish Visitor’s Welcome Center prairie planting “event”


native saline prairies, part of our Loosiana’ natural area landscape

dug up some old photos of a Charles Allen field trip from summer of 1999 a while back, of a cool Saline prairie in Kisatchie National forest.

amazing flora “grazed” by good people, in photos, below

mvc-013s mvc-014s mvc-012s-2 mvc-015s-2 mvc-020s mvc-017s mvc-019s-2

these saline prairie areas are where the native Americans and the early settlers got their salt.


Blue Swamp Creek Nature Trail Park, Covington — Patterns, Pools, and Textures

winter landscapes of grasses


feets don’t fail me now….


hydrology changes patterns and textural effects in the winter landscape of BSC Nature Trail, a project initiated by the concerned citizens of the non-profit Keep Covington Beautiful, City of Covington, St. Tammany Parish, La. Bluestem and Beaked Panicum in foreground, contrast with the course textured, darker colored Dicanthelium scabrusculum.

img_5975 img_5974

pools, left from logging many years ago, hold water and nurture nice stands of the carnivorous Yellow Bladder Wort colonies and Dicanthelium scabrusculum


in the wetland storm water retention area, wet tolerant grasses thrive, above


the wetland retention area in panorama


the carnivorous Pitcher Plant area, above and below, all photos of BSC Nature Trail taken last week



two discovery links, below

Make America prairie again!

Yogi Berra said “it ain’t the heat its the humility”

Dizzy Dean said ” it ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.”

Thanks to Jeff Carbo’s office staff for being so helpful during our collaboration process and thanks to Mr. Carbo himself for including us as horticultural and ecological consultants and in the submittal for this, our third national ASLA landscape design award. We did it!!!!!




Switch grasses, nothing to panic about


a Wikipedia image above, of bare lanky-long Switch grass roots


above, in Heidi Natura’s prairie plant image above, Switch grass is eighth from the right. click photo to enlarge

Panicums and Dicantheliums are two closely related genus of grasses, common in Louisiana. You’ll find different species in different habitats across the state, in a wide range of plant communities, conditions, and soil types.

Many are particularly useful in ornamental horticulture and of course eco-restoration. Have you planted a Panicum today?

Distinguishable by their leaves and panical form inflorescences, making good cover and food plants for wildlife, they hold and build soil.

There are well over 100 species of Panicum listed in the Atlas of the Vascular Flora of Louisiana, with over forty species of Dicanthelium.

Panicum anceps –  a good short grass with a tendency to occur in bogs, flatwoods and a variety of other sites

Panicum hemotomon – if you need an invasive very aggressive short grass for really wet sites, this may be it – perfect for constructed retention basins, as it is a plant that will cover wet ground in a way no other plant will  – ideal for this use. Also, the fact that it is a grass and is so aggressive in wet conditions lends this plant to use as a fuel source for fires – fires are hard to produce sometimes when wet conditions prevail. In these circumstances – wetlands – fires often stop where the moisture begins unless the environment is experiencing a drought. Panicum hemotomon is your anwswer especially since it is short in stature and quite appropriate for the urban, designed condition.

Panicum scoparium – the large textured leaves of Velvet Panic grass feel so good to the touch. Nummy. A big, gangly early succession thing.

Panicum verrucosum –  Warty Panicum and early succession weed but a really good fine textured tall grower about four feet

Panicum virgatum – Switch grass, also known as Thatch grass and Panic grass is the most common species. When your hear the term Switch grass, its usually P. virgatum being discussed. Its a tightly running grass generally expanding a few inches each year once established. A single plant planted in my seed field fifteen years ago is now 14 feet across. P. vergatum is a generalist in that it has a wide range, occuring from Canada to the Gulf coast and from say the western rockies to the East coast. has roots that reach 8-10 feet deep. Native American built thatch roofed huts with Switch grass. Use local genetic plant material in order to assure longevity, persistence in a stand. Some genetic strains have been found to die off over time.

Like all prairie plants, Switch grass has a place in the landscape – most are wet tolerant and show up in low areas but some are dry, upland genetics, requiring soil drainage, drier soils. Both are highly adaptable to upland conditions – typical garden conditions, and are highly adaptable to most existing soils found in Louisiana and the central Gulf coastal region. I have seen a couple of instances in natural areas where Switch grass covered acres of land – huge masses – quite exceptional to see.


Panicum virgatum was adaptable as a bio-fuel plant because it is found in so many states in the union.

I’ve used these ornamental varieties for gardens for many years and all hold up well for us – Dallas Blue, Heavy Metal, Northwind, Cloud Nine, and Brooksville Blue. But use native genetic seed for ecological restoration work.

Dicanthelium laxiflorum – a three inch tall, maximum height – one foot diamete grass – a very fine textured ground cover clumping plant, very delicate somewhat ornamental in charater

Dicanthelium scabriusculum – the big Pitcher plant Panic grass with medium textured leaves

Dicanthelium aciculare – fine textured one foot tall plant

Dicanthelium commutatum – Variable Panic grass, present in every Parish but one, commonly found


Photographs from Charlotte and Jean’s St Tammany Parish prairie garden

My friends Charlotte and Jean developed this front yard prairie garden with seed bought from us. Charlotte says she like the garden a bit wholly. She was kind enough to send me these photos and when I asked, gave permission to publish them. We will be using them for our new website, currently in construction.


April, Baptisia


Beard tongues and Poc-poc plants


August Bushmints and Bushy Bluestems


September Goldenrods and Asters









December is for masses of grasses



Seidenberg Home Garden, St Tammany Parish, La


a dirty dozen Abstract Prairie Facts

  • About 2.5 million acres of Tall grass coastal prairie once existed in southwestern Louisiana, with possibly 5 million acres of Long Leaf Pine herbaceous understory vegetation (pine prairie)
  • Prairie is one of the rarest ecosystems in Louisiana
  • as much as 80% of the biomass of vegetation in a prairie consists of grasses; however only 20% of the plant species are grasses
  • 142 million acres of Tall grass prairie once existed in North America.
  • approximately .01% —– one hundredth of one percent of the original ancient prairie exists today – with more lost each consecutive year.
  • Tall grass prairie forbs are found nowhere else but in prairies
  • The climate for Louisiana was suited for trees as well as it was for grasses. Fires that periodically burned across the landscape helped to keep the balance in favor of prairies. Most species, except for certain Oaks, Hickories and Pines, do not tolerate fire and are killed back or killed off
  • Prairie produce most of their growth during the hot months of summer and are mostly dormant in winter
  • Much of the prairie in the Midwest originated from prairies in the Southeastern U.S. when the glacial period ended and ocean levels receded during the Cretaceous period
  • commonly, over 300 species of plants have been found in Tall grass prairies, with Gulf coastal prairies exhibiting more species than those in the mid-western and more northern parts of the Tall grass system
  •  60-70% of the biomass of prairies us found below the surface of the soil – only 30 – 40% is above ground biomass
  • as much as fifty percent of all prairie plant roots die in winter, to regrow new ones in summer. This is one way prairie plants create rich organic matter


Quick trip to the Crosby –  a brisk walk to photograph interpretive signs

If you haven’t yet visited Crosby Arboretum, stop in one day, winter time is as good as any. See the premiere native plant public garden of the region. Bring a sack lunch and a thermos and chill to the grass landscape. I captured over 80 signs digitally and didn’t get many. here’s a few.






saw these at the edge of the path













“courage is a muscle”

“Courage is a muscle”   Sara Blakely, youngest female self-made billionaire

Sara is a hero of mine, not because she’s made a lot of money but because her story of steadfast determination and never giving up is one that is close to mine.

Sara Blakely’s top three rules of entrepreneurial spirit/ being in business. It worked for me.

  1. Don’t let the word “no” stop you.
  2. Don’t quit your day job just yet.
  3. Never stop evolving


Sara says you have to practice your courage. You have to try and try to get your idea honed just right. You have to fail. Don’t be afraid to try on a new set of dancing shoes, folks.

Entrepreneurship is not for chickens. Don’t be a chicken, be a lion or a lioness.

About twenty years ago, at a plant conference in western North Carolina, a friend, Plato Touliatos asked me what I had been up to lately. I told him I was busy developing a landscape business model, an idea based on prairie landscapes. “I didn’t realize the was a market for that in Mississippi?”, He said.

I responded, “There isn’t, I intend to build one.”

Sometimes it takes a while.


Rockin’ around the Christmas Prairies!

Don’t be afraid to try the unknown, the curious, the exciting.

Leap into life with two feet, like my friend Jim.


Professor Jim Foret (St. Nick?), with his sleigh loaded with bags of goodies (choice seed) for the new 3 acre prairie garden that will be seeded today, Thursday, at the Cade Farm, the experimental farm operated by the School of Geosciences, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, the “living laboratory”. Jim Picked up the seed last week. We met at the City of Mandeville’s prairie garden to make the transaction. He hadn’t had the chance to see the City’s prairie garden yet so we walked it a little while. He wanted to check that off of his bucket list, I guess. 🙂


My Christmas advice? I say yield to nothing, ya’ll!!!! above, one of Mandeville’s established prairie gardens.  click to enlarge the photos…


New Prairie Gardens in Madisonville, Louisiana


One of the latest designs Pastorek Habitats is consulting for, drawn by Landscape Architect Joe Furr for a public park in Madisonville, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. These wetland prairies-to-be will be constructed as authentic Long Leaf Pine herbaceous understory vegetation, based on a Pine Flat plant community, produced from seed collected in nearby privately owned natural areas. Public spaces such as Joe’s recreation Park project are perfect demonstration sites for exhibiting the ecological value and fine aesthetic beauty of the prairie landscape.


Eastern Gamma grass, a candidate for the occasionally mowed, grass landscape

For many years I have studied this natural area, below, near my farm in Pearl River County, Mississippi.


Eastern Gamma grass, Tripsicum dactyloides, is a really substantially adaptable plant, worthy of more use in agriculture, horticulture, landscape design, and ecological restoration. The above photo is a site along the Pearl River, occasionally mowed by the Mississippi State Department of Transportation (Highway Dept). Its occasionally flooded, too, for a week or three each year, when the river – up and rises.


Growing in small scattered populations along with the Gamma grass is another wetland indicator species, Erianthus strictus (Saccharun baldwinii? (dang botanists can’t make up their mind), commonly known as Narrow Plume grass, a fairly commonly occurring plant in high moisture soils.


Gamma grass, the predominant plant here, takes mowing or grazing pretty well, and makes a nice meadow for those inclined to use a bush hog on their tractor. We’ve had some temperatures in the upper twenties in the last couple of weeks so this landscape is recently frosted, turning a beautiful tan brown color.


above, after two mowings, one in May and one in August, Gamma grass has rebounded – twice during the growing season. Its back and it’ll stay thigh high through the long winter season (photo taken last week), making a delightful sight for appreciative eyes. A grassland landscape like this also provides important protective cover for wildlife.

A single Eastern Gamma plant can act as a solitary accent plant in a home. Three plants grouped together are three times as much fun!

Eastern Gamma is a plant that’s rounded in form, making a globular, course textured  effect in the garden. It has an ancient connection to the corn plant and in fact if you look at a corn seed and a Gamma seed, you’ll see they look somewhat similar and if you pop a Gamma seed in your mouth and suck on it a while, it will taste just like corn.

Grown by the acre, it carpets the grown and fills the soil with deep roots. Gamma filters storm water. It captures and stores carbon. Grazers happen to love the stuff, so make a bovine or a bison happy today and plant a sustainable, low input forage crop – its highly palatable. As Ralph Cramden used to say, How sweet it is!!


wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and happy Holiday season. Peace on Earth and good will to all men, women, and plants.





“Science is not everything, but science is very beautiful.”

“Science is not everything, but science is very beautiful.” J. Robert Oppenhiemer, Physicist


Have I mentioned lately that the Long Leaf Pine-Bluestem plant community is very beautiful, too? Check out this on-line booklet, published back in the sixties, below.

Elizabeth’s Mississippi natural meadow – its an unabashed show-off



above, panoramic views of my one-year-old-from-seed Muhleisen home prairie garden planting in Carriere, Mississippi. October 2016 – click on the photos to enlarge



img_4680 img_4708


Three Awn Grass. Dude, just sayin’.


Sweet Goldenrod, smells some-good’, yeah!

That there’s very beautiful, folks.


Split Beard Bluestem – a contender!!!!


Got Splitbeard?


Split Beard Blue, aka Paintbrush Bluestem, Andropogon ternarius, is one of our showiest native grasses for landscaping with cool native grasses, with white fluffy-cottony puffs of seed that show up about October, its easily identified at fifty feet. The little grass clumps are quite small, little tufts (six inches or a foot tall). You can’t see it really, ’til its in flower or fruit – kinda blends in if’n ya know what I mean.


Saaaaweeeet!!! Puffa-puffa, nice!

Git’ you some!


Charlotte’s Front Yard natural meadow

Mother, wildlife lover, registered nurse, author, Charlotte Siedenberg enjoys her Covington, Louisiana Bluestem natural meadow garden



Charlotte’s husband Jean’s scultpures are the highlight of the garden plantings, now three years old. Get Charlotte’s book, The Wildlife Garden; Planning Backyard Habitats, its a cure for ecological blindness, a nearly fatal condition.


Non-natives are plants, too!

Pollinator Pant of the Year 2016!!!!!!!  ….drumroll…..

……Plant of the Year for me is African Blue Basil, a sterile hybrid of two plants. Its one of the best Pollinator species for the garden that I’ve seen, ever. Nothing and I mean nothing comes close. Amazing numbers of Bumble Bees and Butterflies and cool green Skippers were on this all summer, like gravy on rice.

The really great additional attributes are its impressive size, for an annual, and its floral longevity. One plant can get three or four feet in diameter. Mine flowered profusely from the time I put them in the ground in late April until first hard frost which was two days ago – December 9th. That’s nine months of floriferousness!!!!

individual flowers make wonderful additions to flowery arrangements for the kitchen, too! ya-hoo!

Never have I so enjoyed an annual plant. Really, really easy, and really fun. The grandkids were enthralled with the bee activity, their smiles showed it.


Blue Basil last week at the hacienda


This was two weeks ago – before the light frosts we’ve had since took place.


Runner up for top plant is Zahara Zinnia, I tried the white form. Its a Park Seed exclusive. Got mine from Stelz Nursery in Folsom, a wholesale nursery, an annual and herb farm. Zahara flowered and attracted daily assortments of Butterflies and Skippers. A short statured, persistent, floriferous plant. I say persistent because we had record breaking rainfall this year during the summer and it held up just fine. Zinnias don’t like a lot of rain. They like it dry.This one didn’t mind the rain at all.





This is July, above


…and last week, some flowers still hanging on, in foreground – Lomandra just behind – Crinum Eleen Bosenquet behind that.

Third and lastly is a perennial, a Crinum. Not just any old Crinum but Crinum moorei. C. Moorei is the queen of all Crinum, as far as my judgement goes. Its a great plant for any Gulf coastal garden. Big three foot strappy leaves that always look good in the growing season. It grows for me for the last fifteen years in sun or shade, wet or dry. Its a beast. But a very delicate beast.


Dug a bunch for my water garden


Moore’s Crinum blooms in June, July




Awesome Weed of the Year


Hemp Vine – flowers, in white – make great garden addition. Its a Butterfly host plant. Its a weed but when it flowers, if you have a large plant, it can be heavenly scented, is attractive to Monarch Butterflies and the flower timing is perfect as the Monarchs are coming through for their southern trip, October, etc. The blue here is Eupatorium coelestinum, Mist Flower.



Some non natives totally suck – so, careful what you wish for……

I cut this out of my seed fields. Birds eat the apparently delicious fruit and distribute it near and far……


Musta been 300 pounds of fruit on that sucker- Ewwwwwww!!!!!!! Gross!!!!

Bradford Pear makes a great bon fire.


old Chinese proverb – ha


Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now. so get busy w that.

old Chinese proverb ha


My Long Leaf pines at 15 years




nice cones!


this above is what I am shooting for….


ha and maybe, one day, this….

Now. Go plant something, ya’ll! 🙂