LSU AgCenter Station/Bot Garden, Hammond, getting down and dirty with native prairie horticulture

Some really serious horticulture work has been done with these genetics since that time.

I made time to visit with Dr. Yan and Dr. Allen Owings recently. I brought with me, the crop of Side Oats Gramma grass that I grew since June when I made a road side dig in Cameron Parish. I dug enough off the road edge to make about seventy nice and full, quart sized containers. Most of these I loaded into the pick-up and brought to the Station on Tuesday.

Dr. Yan says some of the Side Oats will go into what she calls her “Care and Maintenance” beds, which are demonstration gardens planted with one of the most popular of garden plants, the everblooming Rose, the Knockout Rose. The idea is to demonstrate how folks can use native prairie plants with the most common, everyday garden plants, so that one day local-genetic prairie plants, the ecological wonders that they are, will become more popular and more available for you and me.

img_4927

above, the site of my collection of the rare-gene-pool population of Side Oats Gramma grass, south and west of Vinton, Louisiana, a stone’s throw from the Gulf and the Sabine. A very special thanks to Partyin’ fool Bubba (Bubbette) for throwing out his or her Miller Light beer litter so I can demonstrate to you how very short the Gramma actually is. I stuck my machete in the ground, center, (see?), and the grass was about a foot tall in foliage with nice, typical, nearly-invisible flowering inflorescenses. To get some, you might have to beat out the spray guys. Last year I showed up to dig and the whole strip was nuked brown. This year I got em!

IMG_6919

the Grassmobile is going to market!! This eco-type of Side Oats has great potential for horticultural heights in Louisiana.

agcenter

above, this is the area where some of the native prairie stuff is at the Research Station, the three north-south oriented at the bottom left are grasses and forbs and three longer, east-west oriented garden beds on the bottom right of the screen are the Care and Maintenance gardens        click photo to enlarge it….

IMG_6943

Indian grass, Switch grass, left, and Cajun Prairie Rudbeckias, on the right, at the demo gardens at the Hammond AgCenter Station Research and Botanical Garden, Hammond Louisiana

IMG_6937

Rudbeckia grandiflora (foreground) and Rudbeckia nidita (in back), in full fruit

IMG_6939

Dr. Yan’s Care and Maintenance gardens, with Rosey-Red Knock-out Roses, Indian grass (far left), Little Bluestem grass, annual Periwinkle, Rudbeckia nidita, and Canada Germander. and some nicely clipped turf grass surrounding each of the gardens.

IMG_6941

Little Bluestem, in foreground, above white creeping Vinca, the black seed heads of Rudbeckia Nidita, visible in the distance. Shock-red of Knock-out Rose.

DSC_0378 DSC_0386

These above, are photos provided by Dr. Yan, taken in June after the Rudbeckia nidita had been cut back after blooming in April. She told me she would be cutting them back again, harvesting the seed and looking for yet another re-bloom in October. Great thing about nidita is it is an evergreen, a winter green for the garden, like her big sister Rudbeckia maxima, but with rich green leaves instead of blue. Maxima is a very popular garden plant in the states and in Europe and has been for a long time. Nidita (texana), grandiflora and the very late blooming subtomentosa, I think, all deserve as much fame and fanfare.

IMG_6755

above, nice crop of Split Beard Bluestem coming on in one of the Station greenhouses.

IMG_6757

limited but in my opinion, very significant progress with Narrow Leafed Bluestem. Dr. Yan says they are a bit difficult to grow 😦  .

IMG_6946

above Joey Quibideaux, right, and his co-worker shifting-up the Split Beard Bluestem plants to 3 quart size pots, from four inch. Go Hammond!!!

below is a very unentertaining video of silphiums I found on I-55 on the way back from Jackson Monday, probably integrifolium. yea.

this guy on video, below, is totally wack!

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/2015/08/08/minutes-king-suburban-jungle-southfield-michigan/31344029/

photo-60

a trip to Rick Webb’s Louisiana Growers Nursery = a day well spent

For about 25 years now, Rick Webb’s nursery, Louisiana Growers, located just east of Amite, Louisiana, has been a staple-source for native trees, shrubs and herbs that are either native or adaptable to this region. Rick is still doing this work after all these years, it is clear, because he loves what he does.

Walk through his nursery and he will matter-of-factly tell you as you are passing by a particular crop, what side of the road, in what creek bottom of what Parish or County the cuttings were “collected” from.

This is not your typical Liriope nursery. This is Rick’s World! A lush land off the beaten path where the bottom line comes in the form of a pick-up truck and trailer loaded to the gills with radical plant stock, headed out to a new garden somewhere.

Louisiana Growers is a regional source for good and native plants. Rick is a regional source of hard-tack knowledge about the inner workings of nursery production geared toward the cutting-edge plant market. There are no frills here. Just good nursery stock and any lagniappe information you might need to help you succeed in transitioning a particular plants into the garden.

I recently made two back-to-back trips to visit Rick to pick up some goodies for my experimental meadows here at the home place. One plant I loaded up on was ‘Fireworks’ Goldenrod, a selection of Solidago rugosa that was introduced to the nursery trade by my good friend Ken Moore of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, way back in 1993. Niche Gardens actually was first to grow the plant for sale. In trials at the Chicago Botanical Garden ‘Fireworks’ Goldenrod was rated number one of all the Solidagos tried. The plant, as Mick Jagger would say, is a gas, gas, gas!

Get you some, cher!

Another trip I made was for the very trendy dwarf grass, Tripsicum Floridanum, or Dwarf Fakahatchee grass. This is a plant of promise for natural landscaping on the Gulf Coastal plain. Drive around South Florida and you’ll see it just about everywhere, growing along roadways, in cottage gardens, and in cut-outs of parking lots in shopping malls. It is a really clean and neat plant, tight in growth yet robust in appearance. And dwarf. Folks like grasses to be dwarf, ya’ll. Its said that the plant has less than 500 specimens remaining in its native habitat however through wise nursery production(and locally, through Rick), it is quite available to use in the garden. Yip! This plant has no serious pests is known not to become a pest but it is an adaptable, persistent and long lived plant with lots of character and functionality.

Rick is a self described ‘Woody guy’, meaning he likes growing woody plants like trees and shrubs but he has lately been working with herbaceous plants since there has been a demand for it.

Rick has an eye for cultivated plants. He sees plants in the wildscape that are beautiful and grows cuttings of them for eventual sale. He is a plain-spoken plant connoisseur with a green thumb and nursery full of stock to prove it!

How has his nursery successfully made it through these hard economic times? Probably through shear perseverance, a little blood sweat and tears…. and a lot of love of and dedication to his work (oh, and a little help from his best friend, wife-and occasionally accountant, Susan).

Rick grows lots of native shrubs including several selections of Lyonia. He grows Arrow Wood, Cyrilla, Yaupon, and Possomhaw Holly. How many folks do you know do that? Very few. Maybe his mentor down the road, Margie Y. Jenkins, perhaps (Rick and Ms. Margie trade plants regularly)

Spruce Pine, Evergreen Sweet Bay, American Hornbeam/ Ironwood, Parsley Hawthorn? Ricks’s got it!!!! Plums? Red Cedar? unusually special Oaks? Got Virginia Willow? what a great plant. I have planted many selections of this wetland wonder from Rick over the years.

Need some stuff grown for an up and coming project? talk to Rick. He is one of many dedicated nursery-type-folks who doesn’t let dust settle on his shoulder. Rick works, and he produces lots of leafy gems for stellar gardens.IMG_3019

Rick with ‘new crop’ trees healed-in in a pine bark pile back in February

IMG_3029

Landscape Architect Blake Guidry searches at Rick’s for just the right stuff.

IMG_3020

A crop of Cyrilla seedlings showing genetic diversity in late Winter.

IMG_3025

above: a dwarf gene was prominent in this Cyrilla seedling

IMG_3021

a nice red-foliaged Leatherwood…

IMG_3035

Long Leaf pines in grass-stage, for the taking!

IMG_5507

a sweetly nurtured crop of Cajun Prairie genetics of Big Bluestem grass grown by Rick via contract for a cattle forage project in southwestern Louisiana (summer 2011)

IMG_5509

Rick, with the assistance of horticulturist Gail Barton, grew Indian grass plugs via seed from Cajun Prairie genes. (summer 2012)

IMG_2537

massive trees dug and loaded from Rick’s field, by Rick himself! (2012)

IMG_3610

after twenty five years of making his name growing woody trees and shrubs, he may be famous one day for spotting this herbaceous genetic anomaly of Manfreda virginica that I have named Manfreda virginica var. marginata ‘Rick Webb’. Its a plant that he spotted in a crop of Rattlesnake Master that he grew for me and identified it as ‘unusual’. He pulled it to the side for safe keeping and gave it to me later. Good eye, Rick!

thanks for all the good plants!  🙂

 

Rick’s Louisiana Growers serves the wholesale nursery market.

 

Louisiana Growers website

http://lanativeplants.com/

Louisiana Growers availability list

http://lanativeplants.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/avlapr14.pdf