Mr. Al gets hitched!

Mr. Al, the stately Live Oak tree that the Louisiana Department of Transportation saved from destruction a few years ago by moving it one mile ‘up the road’, welcomed some permanent company- a life companion, his favorite friend, a prairie, Tuesday. Al the Tree, had grown-up in a spot which had been slated for a shiny new frontage road on the adjacent highway 90. An effort was made by the community and the DOT to move him to a safe, comfortable place, where he could have a better view of the folks headed into New Iberia from the west. ha. and be out of the way of traffic. Ryan Duhon, a former student of Professor Foret, and district supervisor for the Louisiana DOT provided expert assistance in preparing the site for a new Cajun Prairie planting, about one and a half acres altogether, enough of a billowy blanket of prairie the ground fully surrounding Old Al, enough to make it all better. šŸ™‚

big-oakjpg-e47f40a80a22a4eb-3

Moving a mile up the road, if your an maturing Live Oak, is quite a traumatic event. One day somebody’s fishing under your shade-casting limbs, and another you’re a mile further north! šŸ˜¦Ā  This could take years of prairie therapy for old guy to overcome. šŸ™‚

IMG_1413

Jim Foret and his fellow-prairie-planters haying the seed.

IMG_1493

above, Mr. Al

IMG_1594

left to right, Dr. Jim Foret, four very happy and helpful Highway Transportation Dept technicians, DOT’s Ryan Duhon, Steven Nevitt, Lilli Voorhies, Jacob Delahoussaye, and lastly, another of Jim’s students, can’t remember his name šŸ˜¦Ā Ā Ā  (I asked for and will add the names of these fine folks later).

IMG_1542

The DOT hired Professor Jim to speak the language of tree and to care and nurse it along to new establishment. So time has passed and Al is now settled in, kicked back, relaxing with his bud Prairie.

mr al

After a two year period of site prep, and three years after the transplanting of the tree, the new Cajun Prairie garden at the intersection of Jefferson Terrace Blvd and U.S. Highway 90 is now planted and the process of transition will be starting very soon with tiny spring-germinated seedlings.

 

The University of Lafayette, Experimental Farm, Cade, Louisiana, to develop a large experimental-research-demonstration Cajun Tallgrass Prairie gardens

cade farm(1)

above, preparation will soon be underway at this ten-acre site at the Cade Farm, thanks to Susan Hester Edmonds, farm manager Mark Simon, and Professor Jim Foret’s native grassland initiative. We will develop designs of different models of Cajun Prairie vegetation to plant via seed.

IMG_1609

the ULL Model Sustainable Agriculture Complex is 600+ acres of farm and research land south of Lafayette near Cade, Louisiana

 

Here’s your sign!

IMG_0942

A sign for the soon-to-be 10 acres of prairie grass and wetland gardens scattered about the length of Lafitte Greenway and Revitalization Park project in New Orleans which now connects the French Quarter to The New Orleans City Park- Bayou St. John area. Howabout that, ya’ll?

IMG_2578

above, prairie grasses dominate the prairie landscape in the beginning of winter here in the central Gulf rim. The Doug Green home in Folsom, yesterday afternoon, looking east from the north side of the garden. These cool gardens were planted two years ago from seed.

IMG_2453

looking west, above. all of the summer vegetation has seeded and the remaining grasses, still with seed, wave in the wind

 

Black Bayou and English Bayou Mitigation Bank visit, fruitful

IMG_1397

above, Will Grant, left, discusses the wetland mitigation goals for one of converting the four large parcels of fallow row-crop fields that we visited last Tuesday, south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, into a Cajun Prairie habitat via local-genetic, source certified seed.

EBMB Map

BBMB Map

building sustainable natural pyrogenic grassland wetlands through the only practical means available, local-genetic seed.

Reserve, La. pollinator field flower-window closes

First-frost lays down Marathon Oil Refinery’s pollinator garden. see smart-phone video of the garden last Sunday before the Monday morning freeze came, below.

 

Cool Grass Garden, Baton Rouge

The Lamar Advertising building on Corporate drive serves as a buffer between the busy boulevard and a hidden patio area for the employees and guests to relax under the shade of Live Oak trees.

featuresized_624c088f7ff0aae1b71955e9c604a028

above, Design image by Mossop+Michaels Landscape Architecture, summer 2012

IMG_1941

above, the Lamar berm is about 150 across and 70 deep, rising about six feet from the natural ground plane. Muhly grass inflorescences of pinky-purple in flower last week, Tuesday. Pastorek Habitats consulted on soils and plants and the technical approaches – specifications, needed for executing the design. There are wildflowers in the planting that bloom in the summer, and we’re trying a new approach with the use of annuals this spring, attempting to get even more from this large low-input landscape.

 

Visit Crescent Park, New Orleans, its worth the time

IMG_0975

Had the pleasure of consulting on the process for developing the awesome native grass landscapes at Crescent Park back in 2012 and visited the gardens twice now, looking for glimpses of the contractor’s handiwork. I met with Casey Guidry Monday to talk about the present state of the meadows. She is interested in tying the prairie idea to education, with the idea of bringing school children to visit and incorporating some interpretive signage – information for those with a curiosity about the gardens.

The ornamental gardens, separate from the meadows, at Crescent are beautifully done. The architecture, creative hardscape walking surfaces, and its up-close views of the mighty Mississippi River are so uniquely and pleasantly layed-out with such inventive use of horticulture, including my favorite, the masses of Evergreen Golderod, Solidago sempervirens, which is nothing but a coastal weed (a good one). It’s super-prolific. Its pretty.. It’s easy to establish and in fact is showing up in adjacent gardens. Like I said, its a weed, but a good one. It’s a superduper pollinator plant that is super-easy from seed. Try it, you’ll like it.

check out a photo by Julia Lightner, of Elmer’s Island, near Grand Isle, Louisiana, with a tall marsh-meadow of Switch grass and Evergreen Goldenrod, below

1620614_369665663214556_5143177033550982836_n-1

IMG_0985

A spectaculary positioned bridge upon another bridge – you step up and over the rail tracks over the cool arched bridge at the entrance to the Park to see the massive twin Greater New Orleans Mississippi River Bridges in the distance, separated by the River’s vastness and the famous Algiers Point. The very spot of the River you see here is the deepest, at 180+ feet, on the west bank at just below the point, in the eddy of the point.

Wow! Wow, is right!

IMG_1064

Rusty red leaf color of Red Maples blends with the rusty red of the arched bridge, above

IMG_1091

black pervious paving works well with near-white monlithic slab-benches that stretch at angles, lengthwise across the park. The use of cobblestones and re-purposed brick accent areas along the walkways.

IMG_1172

Hargreaves and Associates, of San Fransisco, designed the Park. They resurected some wharf areas and left some derelict, leaving the character of the original site, a hundred year old former wharf-shipping dock-warehouse complex.

IMG_1041

I arrived early and saw only a few folks running, one guy was practising his trumpet, blaring it out onto the riverscape. How aprapos.

 

 

 

the MD Anderson-Mays Center and Steve n’ Jake pocket prairies

Pocket prairie is a term used for describing small prairie gardens. Ā By small, I mean postage stamp size to a few or more acres in size. You can find pocket prairies all over the place. Two really good ones that I saw this week are the M.D. Anderson, Mays Center prairie garden inĀ the Medical Complex area in east Houston and the Steve and Jake Pollinator Habitat Garden at University of Louisiana Lafayette.

Both of these were planted just a couple of years ago. Both are stellar examples of backyard habitats in high profile locations.

The two-acre Mays Center garden is located in the heart of a huge complex of medical centers and is a natural area where not much else is natural. Dominant in nativeĀ grasses but full of colorful flowering prairie plants, the gardens are a quiet area for contemplation. Its an outdoor park with a focus on native grassland vegetation of the Houston region.

md anderson

From above, the prairie areas are in darker green color, mostly to the left of this googleearth image.

IMG_5790

nice lines are made, with turgrass meeting prairie

IMG_5787

a couple of interpretive signs speak of the flora, fauna,Ā and historical content.

IMG_5788

IMG_5777

the Mays gardens were controlled burned last year

IMG_5778

IMG_5773IMG_5798

American Bachelor Button is a fun plant to play with. It is easy from seed as a winter annual and it very showy and very fragrant (above). They close up in the afternoon (left) and open in the morning timeĀ (right). click to enlarge

IMG_5785

a wallow was created to quench wildlife’s thirsts.

IMG_5766

a nice Carex sedge, maybe an esculentus, odoratus relative

IMG_5789

Yellow Indian grass beginning to flower

IMG_5764IMG_5769

The Texas Blue Bell and Button Snakeroot were planted throughout. I understand that the seed for planting this prairie came the recent grass-roots-acquired-preserve; the Deer Park Prairie. Jaime Gonzales, who worked on this project via the Katy Prairie Conservancy and the Coastal Prairie Partnership, also help to spearhead the purchase of Deer Park. Deer Park is a wonderful prairie remnant that was slated for destruction, construction. The People took action and raised the money to purchase Deer Park and prevented its demise. What a happy story.

The Steve and Jake Garden at the University of Louisiana, Ā Lafayette, is a great contrast to the Mays Center garden. It is one that people all around the regionĀ can emulate, right in their own front yard.

The Steve and Jake Garden is at the northwest entrance to Hamilton Hall on the UL Lafayette campus. From what Professor Jim Foret told me, Steve Nevitt and Jake Delahousseye got seed and grew plants and planted them all in the two areas on each side of the walkway leading into the doorway area. came out nice, guys. Did ya’ll have some help? I hope they’ll comment here.

IMG_5938

Maestro Jim Foret stands in front of the Steve n’ Jake garden at Hamilton Hall, ULL, Lafayette.

IMG_5934IMG_5936

opposite the garden is an Oak that Maestro Jim’s Daddy planted back in 1952. Cule.

IMG_5950IMG_5948

IMG_5966IMG_5971

looking west at sprawling Eastern Gamma grass reaching out to touch passers by.

IMG_5972

There’s a really classy brick edge that’s really wide wrapping around the garden edge. Behind is a bench-like architectural structure, which edges the backside very nicely.

IMG_5963IMG_5959

a cacophony (dat’s a lot, ya’ll) of floral color, including the erect, beautifully blue leaves of Yellow Indian grass (above, right).

IMG_5956

click on this photo to enlarge it, above

IMG_5958IMG_5930

Hibiscus large and small

IMG_5942IMG_5947

and Sunflowers…

IMG_5962

a large Mamou plant has an island unto itself

IMG_5982

and then we took the State prairiemobile to see the State highway planting demonstration plot for Department of Transportation along highway 90. Ryan Duhon, with DOT has been diligently spraying and prepping the site. Jim and Ryan were able to get a plan together a year or so ago for planting a cool prairie near the large Live Oak that was saved by DOT from destruction, Mr. Al, the Live Oak Tree. Al looked great and so did the prep work so far! another pocket prairie, to be seeded in November.

IMG_5975

Highway 90 east of New Iberia, Louisiana (the Berry) will be the new home of a demo Cajun Prairie, near the famous but modest Mr. Al, the Live Oak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

L-DOT decides that Big Al needs a prairie pal

Thanks to the brilliance and foresight of ULL Professor Jim Foret and his former student, La state Transportation Department supervisor Ryan Dugas, the New Iberia-Lafayette area will be the recipients of a cool 1.3 acre Coastal Tall grass Prairie planting just next to Big Al, the massive Live Oak that was relocatedĀ a couple of years ago during constructionĀ along highway 190.

Ryan, Jim, and I met in the spring to discuss a plan of action to join these two in the holy bond of marriage and since then Ryan has taken steps that will prepare the way for planting this winter. Big Al the Live Oak was moved only because folks came out of the woodwork to fight to save him and as a result, two years later, we have a well-settled-in friend who seemed a bit lonesome up on his knoll. Jim and Ryan took it upon themselves to remedy that lonesomeness. In the spring and summer next year a prairie will begin to emerge as a life companion for Mr. Al. I couldn’t think of a more compatible couple, …those two lovebirds! šŸ™‚

IMG_4028

above: Prof. Jim Foret, left, walks up to a very Big Al, with Dr Charles Allen, to check Al’s pulse, a year or so after the move, in spring 2013 (click to enlarge the photo)

The prairie planting will be done just east of Al, in a 1.3 acre triangle shaped arrangement in a pre-Christmas marriage ceremony. Pastorek Habitats, LLC will provide the seed for the awesome planting. All Louisiana’s folks are invited to be witnesses to this nuptial blessing. Here is one of the signs made recentlyĀ to be placed along the highway shortly after their honeymoon is over. (photo courtesy of Ryan, via Jim)

IMG_6865

I hope to see ya’ll at the ceremony! Peace.