West Monroe’s Mayor backs Dr. Joydeep’s scientific wildflower design and controlled burn management for Kiroli park. Go Micro-Prairies!!!

I had a long awaited meeting with West Monroe, Louisiana’s Mayor Dave Norris, Parks Director Doug Seegers, and Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharjee yesterday. It was a year and a half in the works. The question was, will the Mayor sign-off on a scientifically designed wildflower garden devised by Dr. Joydeep, installed and managed by yours truly, for Kiroli Park, the crown jewel of the West Monroe Park system.

The answer from his honor, the Mayor, was a resounding YES!!!!

Whootie-hoot!!

Mayor Dave Norris has been mayor of West Monroe for over thirty five years. He seemed a very personable, kind and wise man.

Dr. Bhattacharjee is a plant and restoration Ecologist at the University of Louisiana, Monroe. He and I have been discussing the design concept for project and finally got the chance to present it to the Mayor. The design is “aimed at evaluating recolonization potential of prairie species in open fields”.  Nice!  🙂

These experiments will be subtly built into a colorful, flowery Bluestem grass garden where he and his students will set up study plots within the planting to collect information on the planting’s establishment and development over time. They’ll do what scientists do, collect and analyze data.

Meanwhile, the estimated 140,000 people who visit the Park each year will be the beneficiaries of a cool rare-plant native wildflower garden.

I consider Joydeep’s garden design to be high art. I wish I could show it here but he wants to hone it more before divulging it to the world. That’ll come later. I’ll let him do the honor when the time comes.

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above: Dr, Joydeep Bhattacharjee, Associate Professor Plant and Restoration Ecology, University of Louisiana, Monroe.

Kiroli Park is sixty acres loaded with wonderfully old second-growth upland Pine and bottomland Cypress-Gum forest habitat remnants that have been sadly separated for many years from their cousins, the native flowering herbs and grasses. This news should put smiles on those old trees’ faces. This thought harkens me back to the old Peaches and Herb singing duo’s song lyrics, “reunited and it feels so good!”

What is particularly special about our meeting yesterday is that we also got permission to manage the flower garden with controlled burns. The fire will encourage natural succession to occur progressively over time, revealing the most delicate and beautiful flowering plants within the seed collection.

Without fire, a prairie is just a faux meadow.

With fire, its a biodiversity garden: a micro-prairie.

Go! Dr. Joydeep!!!

Go! Micro-Prairies!!!!

 

 

 

 

Grass Class a smash!

“Sedges have edges, Rushes are round, Grasses have joints when the cops aren’t around.”  Dr. Charles M. Allen, October 2014

Just returned from three days of sorting out the glumes, lemmas and spikelets of native grasses and their associates at the first invitational Charles M. Allen Native Grass Class. I’m a little conflicted as to which part of the class was the best: the course work, the food, or the people in attendance. That’s a tough call, ya’ll.

The timing for the course was perfect for me since all of these fall fruiting plants are just becoming available to harvest and because of that, I will add forty or more species to the final species list for my Calcasieu Parish wetlands habitat/ mitigation banking restoration projects. Grasses and grass-like plants seem to be the most obscure and probably the most unappreciated plants but they have an very important roll in sustaining us here on planet Earth.

I am a big fan of colorful, flowering plants but what interests me most of all are these odd-ball native grasses.

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The first step of the Twelve Step program is admitting that one cannot control one’s addiction or compulsion.    …click on photos to enlarge them..

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with a hand lens you can determine the details that separate the many species of Rhyncospera

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To know Charles Allen’s humor, sometimes you need to really know Charles Allen.

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Marshallia graminifolia amongst the Toothache grass in a Pine bog, in Kisatchie

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The ghostly Liatris elegans, Pink Scale Blazing Star, huddled up with its pyrogenic grass partner, the demure Thin Leafed Bluestem

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the rather discreet but very beautiful Pink Scale Blazing Star

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One of my favorite grasses, Pineland Dropseed, a most beautiful thing. Horticultural applications for this plant are numerous. It is the perfect native lawn grass plant, too.

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Field Paspalum, Paspalum laeve

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….figuring out Juncus dichotomus

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Dr. Allen, walking with fellow student Ann, in the field that he and I burned in January

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Two very old and outstanding organisms. 🙂 …hopefully I will be one, one day, too.                                           Dr. Allen found this, the largest existing Large Gallberry tree in the world, in Kisatchie, right at the very edge of his property, where his joins the National Forest.

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We stumbled upon a very old Yaupon in our travels, too.

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Professor Jim checks the pulse of this ancient rippled Youpon Holly, Ilex vomitoria

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Dr. Allen leads us through the diverse grasslands of Kisatchie National Forest

Dr. Allen is hosting a Native Plant Identification workshop soon that covers flowering plants and some grasses, etc. click on the link below for information…

Click to access plant%20id%20workshop%20oct%2028-30.pdf

 

 

 

slo-mo snake attack just like on TV, and other “wild things” news

So there I was, Monday, working in my meadow gardens here at the Ponderosa when my phone rang. I needed a break anyway so reaching into my pocket, and took the call.  While chatting to my client, I proceeded to sit down in the path next to the garden in the small shade of a juvenile water oak.

As I sat, it all happened so quickly but I can recall it clearly, as in slow motion. I happened to be just looking in the direction of a cool blue-leafed switch grass in the central part of the garden a few feet away when all of a sudden a Bronze frog (Lithobates clamitans, I think)in an ascending lift-off, airborne, flying towrds me from the horizon, landing just next to me. Directly on the trail of the frog, coming over the same horizon, was a sprinting three-foot-long snake, hot on the trail of the frog. He’d come from around the switch grass too and he got a glimpse of me which stopped him in his tracks. He put a screeching halt to his progress and quickly cut-off to the north into a big patch of Bee Balm and he was gone. This all happened within a few feet of me and within the time frame of a second or two. The frog took one more giant leap for frog-kind into the pond on the other side of the path and he was gone, too. How fun!

Caroline Dorman called this “the gift of the wild things”.

This reminds me of the time I was collecting some water lettuce from a friend’s pond in Slidel, when I saw a nice little froggy swimming by in front of me and then SPLASH!!   a moccasin ate that sucker up right before my very eyes. yikes. Biology rocks!!!

 

Three upcoming events dealing with the wild things are coming up, all rolled into one week!

First-up is the Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society’s prairie garden tour on May 10 in Eunice. I’m pretty sure that without the pioneering activities of Malcolm Vidrine and Charles Allen, there would be no Cajun Prairie left. But because of their brilliance and wisdom and hard work and a lot of help from volunteers, some of the remaining gene pool of Coastal Prairie has been preserved. We work hard on this and other sites so that people like you can see for yourself in living color! This property is on permanent display for your benefit. Come any time. Come see for yourself the kaleidoscopic vegetation, man.  We’ll travel five miles north from Eunice to Duralde restored prairie which is a much larger property where we’ll see some more unique plantings of crazy-cool wildflowers and then see progress made, since our last visit, on the two year old Demonstration Gardens there. Should be fun and informative. It always is for me! contact Charles Allen for details native@camtel.net

May 13-15 is a Plant Identification Class presented by Charles Allen in the Pitkin (Louisiana) Metro area. As you may know, Charles has a third-degree black-belt in buffet and a very specialized garden designed as a kind-of native bird and bug “rest area”. Charles plants gardens to attract wildlife and to demonstrate gardening techniques for using natives and attracting native critters. He also is all-things-caretake-of-rare-plants at Ft Polk, Louisiana where the flars are pretty. He is an biologist and educator, he can’t help himself. This is a very popular, very well done event, folks. The last one he did had no availability by start time (it was filled up!) and this one is almost full (two spaces left as of this a.m.) so contact Charles at native@camtel.net or 337 328 2252 for more info.  the flyer for this is posted at the bottom of this page.

Lastly, Patricia Drackett of the Crosby Arboretum has organized a field trip to Meadowmakers’ Farm and Hillside Bog Natural area on May 17th in Pearl River County, Mississippi. This is a joint event hosted by Crosby, Meadowmakers Farm, and the Louisiana and Mississippi Native Plant Societies. Heather Sullivan, botanist on staff at the Mississippi Natural History Museum, will lead the two trips. I am so excited to have Heather walk with me through the wildflower plantings at the farm. Its a big deal for me. This is the first visit to the farm for Heather and it should be a treat to see the different plantings through her eyes. Lots will be in bloom. You should come! We’ll break for lunch on or own and reconvene at the Crosby satellite property, the Hillside Bog. The Bog should be in full glory with wonderful wild things to gawk at.

Bring your own boots, water, shade hat and find a restroom before you arrive at the Farm and at Hillside Bog because we’ll be in the woods, more or less, ya’ll, you know what I mean?  This aint no sea cruise.  🙂  Actually, on Highway 43, just a mile west of the Farm, is Fortenberry’s Grocery and Slaughterhouse. They have welcomed any visitors who need restroom facilities and at Hillside Bog, there is a gas station just down the street, a few hundred yards away.

see links below for details  or call me at 504 296 8162

http://www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu/pages/calmay.php

https://marcpastorek.wordpress.com/crosby-native-plant-society-meadowmakers-botany-field-trip/

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PLANT IDENTIFICATION WORKSHOP 2014

 Tuesday May 13 thru Thurs May 15, 2014

Allen Acres in Cravens, Louisiana; 5070 Hwy 399; Pitkin, LA 70656

337-328-2252  native@camtel.net  www.nativeventures.net

 

If you want to learn to recognize many of the common plants of Louisiana and the Gulf South, the names of those plants, and how to identify other plants, this is the workshop for you.   The workshop will include fieldtrips, where you can see the plants in their natural environment as well as labeled specimens in a lab setting.  Additional info on plant identification will be presented thru power-point presentations and printed handouts.  You will be given BRF’s (Best Recognizing Features) for each plant plus other facts like use, edibility etc.  You are encouraged to photograph, take notes, ask questions, and take specimens with you.  During the three day workshop, you will be exposed to more than 200 species of wildflowers, grasses, ferns, trees, shrubs, and vines.

The schedule:

Tues May 13, Wed May 14, and Thurs May 15:  9 AM till 5 pm (fieldtrips, power-point presentations,

discussions, questions and answers) Lunch provided

 

Cost for Workshop = $200 (includes three days of intense plant identification and lunch daily)

 

Other Options:  Allen Acres B and B:  $70 per room per night (includes Breakfast) (usually $80)

Allen Acres camping: $20 per person per night (includes Breakfast)

Dinner (supper) $10 per person per meal

 

Registration for Dr. Charles Allen Plant Identification Workshop 2014-2, Tues May 13, 2014-Thurs May 15, 2014.  Preregistration required.  May cancel on or before May 9 for full refund.  No refund after May 9.

 

Name_________________________________________

Address____________________________________________

Email_________________________________________________

Phone_____________________________________________________

 

Plant ID Class                                                                $200

Options

B and B; $70 per night per room             ______________________