lecture/ program on prairie gardening for pollinators via seed, tonight

Come sit and visit with me at the New Orleans Master Gardeners meeting – we’ll talk about prairie gardens….

powerpoint for tonight’s talk, below

new-orleans-master-gardeners-october-17-2016

6:00 p.m.  @ City Park Botanical Gardens, New Orleans

keep bugging me, man!

Habitat Conversion

Convert a patch of your lawn into prairie and find a world you would never discover otherwise; the plants, the patterns, the bugs!!!

Insects are not just beneficial, they’re essential! Bugs are good. Ask any Mother bird who is fluttering about in search of food for her chicks and she’ll tell ya. “chirp, bugs are good for my bebes! …..chirp chirp!”

“A single pair of breeding chickadees must find 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars to rear one clutch of young”, according to Doug Tallamy, a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware. Even though seeds and berries are nutritious winter staples, insects are best for feeding growing fledglings. Surprisingly, insects contain more protein than beef, and 96% of North American land birds feed their young with them. Although fly maggots and spiders might curl your lip, to a chickadee, these are life-saving morsels full of fat and protein.

If you’re not a fan of six legged organisms, you should curl up with Dr. Tallamy’s book Bringing Nature Home. It will reveal the complexity of nature through bugs. or just pull up any Doug Tallamy youtube video.

Then you’ll see!

Personal Outlook Conversion

What comes along with growing a prairie landscape besides flowery landscapes and bugs, is something you’ll find within yourself, a sense of satisfaction that goes far beyond what a garden can bring; a lesson in gratefulness and gratitude, a lifetime of beauty, joy and wonder.

Easily Demonstrating Pollinator Response

Wonderful things happen when you prairie garden. Plant Monarda punctata, Spotted Horsemint, and see a world of beauty and intrigue develop before you, from the tiniest seeds. Horsemint is a mid-succession to late succession species that comes up easily from seed (its a weed) in a prepared soil. It competes and proliferates over time. Kids! try this at home!

 

after a week of overcast rainy weather, the pollinators insects are out en masse, and very active, taking advantage of a first dry sunny day – this was planted in November 1998 – Pastorek Habitats-Meadowmakers’ seed farm – Carriere, Mississippi. What you can’t see clearly in the video, are many polllinator insects – working the Horsemint flowers for nectar. I walk right through the bees and wasps and they don’t bother me a bit – they’re too busy to notice. 🙂

 

Monarda_punctata_1

Spotted Horse Mint is a highly aromatic plant with all parts having a pleasant citrusy scent.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–               ———————————————————————

above, a tiny native bee dances the Watusi in the disc of a Compass Plant flower – at the farm – tell me where you’ve seen one of these bee’s lately?

—————————————————————————————————-

—————————————————————————————————-

Ville Platte’s Louisiana State Arboretum’s native prairie developing into a nice sod

The Louisiana State Arboretum prairie garden is near the arrival area, at the Park’s Visitor’s Center, adjacent to the parking lot.

IMG_1217

planted in the winter of 2012 with seed provided by Pastorek Habitats, these gardens have developed into a decent representation of what an attractive prairie habitat can be. The seed was collected from the Cajun Prairie Restoration site and other relic prairie areas in southwest Louisiana.

prairie flower 001

Sabatia, Rose Gentian, above

green milkweed2

Green Milkweed

IMG_1219

obviously not my hand, ha – Kim Hollier, Interpetive Ranger at the Arboretum, holds the flowering head of a member of the Carrot Family, a “hyper-pollinator” species, Eryngium yuccafolia, Button Snakeroot.

liatris 006

above Liatirs, Blazing Star, and a very happy Gulf Fritillary butterfly, foreground, with a Switch grass mass, in background.

eastern-amberwing-crop

Eastern Amberwing Dragonfly

(photos by Arboretum Interpretive Ranger Kim Hollier)

 


 

Narrow-leaf Mountain Mint – pollinator plant profile

butterfly_flower

Mt. Mint flowering clusters make a good landing pad for butterflies

Mountain-mint-4

Even though the flower clusters are tee-tiny and really need to be examined by using a hand lens to truly appreciate them, they can be quite showy in the landscape when in found in large numbers. Generally speaking, when you find this plant in the wild, it is usually a sign, an indicator, of high quality vegetation. Its a nearly carefree garden plant, with annual cutting back of spent stalks, the only chore needed to keep it looking at its best. In nature, fire does this. No insects that I have ever seen cause it any damage. They are probably too intoxicated by its sweet nectar to care about eating the plant.

Mountain Mints are highly aromatic. All parts of the plant have minty scented qualities and can be used to make tea and as a culinary spice.

I don’t remember ever having lost a plant in a garden and in fact it readily multiplies; it proliferates!

Plantings that I did in my seed field many years ago are now large masses that have spread and become the dominant feature in the landscape, moving out other exotic and early succession species.

A plant grown from seed becomes, over a three year period, a clump about a foot or so in diameter. The clumps increase in size over the years, becoming a dense ground cover, a green carpet an inch or two high in the cool of winter. When in bloom, at its peak, its stands about two feet tall.

Gardening with Narrow-leaf Mountain Mint is so simple – easier than tying your shoe. Propagate it by division by separating individual plants from the mature clumps. Take cuttings from vegetative growth just as the stems become rigid (June) and well before they begin to elongate and bud up to flower.

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium copy

above, Like many prairie species, Pycnanthemum tenuifolium, has an extensive range of distribution. You’ll find it in prairies relics in the eastern half of the country. (source, BONAP)

IMG_2935

In Louisiana, its generally out of the river flood plain parishes, but just about everywhere else. (source Vascular Flora of Louisiana)

IMG_3002

from Charles Allen’s Edible Plants of the Gulf South

 



 

City of Mandeville / La. Dept of Transportation “Wildflower Conservation Garden” (that apparently no one notices! ha!) Feeds the Insect Masses!

IMG_2813

above, some schmuck standing next to one of the dozen or so Long Leaf Pine trees in the City of Mandeville prairie, a prairie garden grown from awesome local-gene, Pastorek Habitat seed. Nice Ragweed in the photo foreground – the yellow flowers are likely Coreopsis linifolia

IMG_2805

saweet! Impressed, huh!

IMG_3003

IMG_3109

IMG_3023

a nice patch of mature Bothriochloa, above

IMG_3028

a stand of Florida Paspalum has arrived on the scene, above

IMG_3011

…and the first Rough Leaf Goldenrod will bloom this year…yay!

IMG_3026

some good sized polulations of Clustered Bushmint _Hyptis alata

IMG_3021

and some Spotted Horsemint, too…

IMG_2804

Little Bluestem grass, a conservative species, starts its late-summer reach to the sky, with flowering stalks (inflorescence) that will produce viable seed – the proliferating garden

IMG_2797

above, the first Liatris to bloom so far in the Mandeville garden, shows its adolescent floral spikes. Not sure which species – didn’t look. but could be pycnostachya, spicata or acidota. These and many other perennial plants will start to mature enough to start colonizing within the Bluestem structure, coloring up the landscape over time.

1175741_10200482792807491_1996903004_n

above, 25 years of Liatris pycnostachya proliferation in Cajun Prairie Society restored prairie, Eunice, La., the result is a quite unusual and stunningly beautiful landscape, produced via seed. This garden has been the inspiration for my last twenty plus years of work. Dr. Charles M. Allen and his magical botanical creation, co-instigated by his friend and colleague Dr. Malcolm F. Vidrine, succeeded in their effort to establish a restored prairie in which to study prairie Ecology and restoration. Ten years ago there were just a smattering of the Liatris in this field, its only in the last several years that it has proliferated to this point. (September 2014) (click on photo to enlarge)

IMG_2934

img_7569

Liatris pycnostachya, remnant prairie, Cameron Parish, Louisiana

Liatris_spicata_nsh

Laitris seed, magnified

The Southeastern U.S. pine landscapes are often called Long Leaf Pine-Bluestem plant communities because these two species were once the dominant species, generally speaking. Today it is not common to find either one of these in wild landscapes.

When I stopped in last week to see the Mandeville garden, the insect species were everywhere flying above, and nectaring on flowering plants. As I waded through the planting, grasshoppers, bees, skippers and moths darted away from me to a safer perch – and the sky was filled with hundreds and hundreds of Dragonflies.

 

the one + acre Mandeville Garden is at the corner of East Causeway Approach and Louisiana State Highway 190 – go check out all the critters, see it for yerself, ya’ll! its bad-ass.

Charles M. Allen Phd plant identification classes – see below link – these are excellent, intense classes in which to learn more about plant taxonomy

Sept 10-11 edible plant workshop – Allen Acres B and B

Sept 13-15 basic plant id workshop – Allen Acres

Sept 20-22 Wetlands Plant id workshop – Allen Acres

Sept 24 Pollination Celebration

https://tpmgblog.wordpress.com/pollination-celebration-2016/

Sept 24-25 Prairie Conference – Lafayette, La

http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event;jsessionid=35FA525E0215A325CCC9ECB3F93A6C0F.worker_registrant?llr=ejjbmvjab&oeidk=a07ecyp33k35061afd9

Sept 27-29 Graminoid (grass identification) workshop – Allen Acres

Sept 30-Oct 2 Butterfly Blast – Allen Acres

Oct 4-6 basic plant workshop (Poplarville, Ms)

Oct 8-10 basic plant workshop – Allen Acres

Oct 17-18 edible plant workshop – Allen Acres

Oct 25-27 basic plant id workshop – Allen Acres

Oct 29-30 edible plant workshop – Allen Acres

November 4-5 plant id workshop, Belle Chasse, La

Nov 6 edible plant workshop – half-day – Belle Chasse, La

 

for more info on these dates contact Dr. Charles Allen @   native@camtel.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PH provides Pine prairie seed for endangered Mississippi Gopher frog breeding site

Over the last couple of weeks I have had the pleasure of consulting with U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s wildlife biologist Tim Brooks on Pine prairie establishment and seed selection for the breeding ponds being established near Vancleave, Mississippi, at the Ward Bayou Wildlife Management Area. The Corps has constructed two- 2 acre ponds, simulating upland ephemeral ponds in a fire generated Long Leaf Pine ecosystem for the purpose of protecting the fate of the Mississippi Gopher frog.

Pertinent to the seed mix are three herbaceous species that have been documented as necessary for the frog’s breeding cycle, Juncus repens, Xyris species and Eupatorium perfoliatum. Tim tells me that the frog “almost exclusively uses the stiff stalk of this Eup (Boneset) to attach their egg masses to”. How cool! Especially since I have a lot of Boneset seed!! WHOO-HOOO!!

15 years ago, when I started construction of my seed fields in Mississippi, I left an area unseeded and have burned it just as I have the other seeded areas, ever since. In this spot, Bonset has established from a just a few at first, to several hundred mature plants. I will collecting the seed from these plants and adding it into the Bog edge-Flat woods mix that will be seeded around the pond edge, about three acres of ground in all.

IMG_9192

IMG_9191

above, the breeding ponds at Ward Bayou WMA, ready for seeding on November 2! photo by Tim Brooks

IMG_9068

A sweet patch of Eupatorium perfoliatum, Boneset, in flower last week, at the Farm in Pearl River County, Mississippi.

IMG_9091

amazing collections of Pine prairie bog and flatwoods associations have been made in the last couple of weeks with the extremely dry weather we’ve had. Three different collections, above, contain different dominants.

IMG_9088

This one is of a hill side bog in Pearl River county

 

Mandeville Highway Planting, Highway 190 at Causeway Approach

IMG_9175

checked out this cool spot yesterday in Mandeville, Louisiana where we planted Pine prairie last year in November. The white is Eupatorium serotinum, the vertical grasses are mostly Little Bluestem. The yellow is the fall blooming Coreopsis linifolia. You can barely see the ten thousand Calico Aster flowers.

IMG_9177

Coreopsis linifolia, Bog Coreopsis, a Coreopsis tinctoria look-alike barely faing from full glory at Mandeville wildflower conservation area

IMG_9172

Like a kid hunting an Easter Egg, I was thrilled to find this Indian grass inflorescence in the mix, one year from seed. That’s Little Bluestem in the background with tiny Calico Asters in lavender. click the photo to enlarge

Copiah-Lincoln County Community College, Mississippi gets seed delivery for Brady’s prairie!

Students of Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Mississippi, along with Brady Dunaway, a student with a great passion for ecology, and Science Dept’s Dr. Kevin McKone, spearheaded the project. They’ve organized a day today to plant the prairie. Just in time for their first good rain in three months.

IMG_9113

I had some time before I was to drop off seed for Co-Lin CC yesterday morning so stopped in at Lake Lincoln State Park and found this stunningly beautiful vista of Bidens laevis (positively ID’d by Dr. Charles Allen). Of couse the Picture doesn’t do the planting justice. The bright color yellow was radiant. Amazing beauty. A marginal aquatic plant. Wowser.

IMG_9110

The stem of B. laevis has a length-wise channel running up it.

IMG_9102

probably the worst pic ever taken of B. laevis but you get the point.

Totally un-native Pollinator crop comes into color at Reserve, Louisiana Industrial project site – gets results!

IMG_9157

Imagine six acres of color crop with countless amounts of bees working. I counted seven Monarchs Butterflies in the fifteen minutes I was there.

IMG_9164

IMG_9146

I like using the big, tall-boy Zinnias. Natives or not, these plants attract copious amounts of critters. There is room for all kinds of landscapes that provide for our beloved insects.

The engineer I work with at this Refinery likes color with his pollinators so I have helped with his pollinator PR for some years now, producing large annual flowering, flower-ful landscapes, twice or three times a year.

cool residential projects

IMG_8757

2 year old prairie garden in Spearsville, Louisiana, Union Parish, two miles from the Arkansas line. the youtube video below is me walking in the prairie. notice the crunching under feet. no rain in 100 days my friend Beth Erwin from Kalorama Nature Preserve tells me. The prairie was kick regardingless. And the sound of bees was pronounced. The field was literally buzzing. photo taken Oct 12, 2015 Eupatorium hyssopifolium and Eupatorium serotinum

IMG_8795

above, a six acre prairie garden about to be planted, last week, in Ruston area of Louisiana

IMG_9005

Last Monday I ducked into Doug Green’s place and saw his 2 year old pine prairie. It was flowerfullee! Doug did the planting on his own. All by his lonesome. 🙂

greens

Doug with his field plowed, November 2013

LSU’s Lee Memorial State Forest has ancient (and recent) vegetation

I met with Joe Nehli, LSU AgCenter Forest Manager of the Lee Memorial Forest and got a treat since they have some really wonderful stands of old relict pine herbaceous understory. Lots of Big Bluestem, lots of Blazing Star, diversity galore, and the piece de resistance, the first time I have seen Sorgastrum ellioti, Elliot’s Indian grass. life is good ya’ll

IMG_8964

Big Blue in bloom

IMG_8962

Big Blue in fruit

IMG_8872

the very groovy Elliot’s Indian grass

IMG_8862

and its seed

IMG_8959

Joe and I found a giant patch of the hatefully invasive and very tall, Bothriochloa Blahdii, Caucasian Bluestem grass (Blahdii’s very, very Badii, ya’ll ha). This shows how the seven foot stand of awfulness dwarfs Joe, who is probably 5-7″. Glad this is only in some isolated areas of the forest. White-boy Bluestem, as I call it, is a super-pest weed worse than Cogon, in my opinion, much more aggressive and super prolific seeder. yuk.

IMG_9020

collecting last Sunday morning early, in a Tangipahoa Parish pine prairie that was mowed in August, I came across several plants of Asclepias longifolia in seed. What a find! click to enlarge

 

 

 

Hammond Field Day, awesome/ finalized program for the prairie-oriented LNPS conference, Feb 5-7, 2016

“Nature is an open book for those who care to read. Each grass-covered hillside is a page on which is written the history of the past, conditions of the present, and the predictions of the future.” – John Ernest Weaver

IMG_8489

above, below, my November 2001 planting in Pearl River County, Mississippi done with seed from the ancient Frey prairie relict, which used to be located five miles directly south of Eunice, Louisiana on an old discontinued rail bed. The seeding at the farm was an experiment that worked, these photos taken Tuesday. The old Frey prairie site, until recently, one of the most floriferous patches of ground in the state. The farmer, who for twenty five years let us dig prairie sod for restorations there, decided the prairie would be better upside down so he plowed it under for an addition to his adjacent rice field. Yikes.

IMG_8499

The beauty of the Frey planting at my farm is in all its subtlety.  What was once an over-grazed cow-field has transformed into a delightfully intricate reflection of Frey by simply adding seed, now, rare genetics.

…the joy of prairie lies in its subtlety. Suzanne Winckler (2004, Prairie: A North American Guide, University of Iowa Press

 

IMG_8422

above, a view of a field at the farm that was never seeded and only managed with prescribed fire, since 1997. Incredibly diverse vegetation has developed here over the last 18 years by just burning. click to enlarge the images..

LSU Horticultural Field Day – Hammond Station – Thursday was the bomb!

IMG_8553

Horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings, LSU, discusses the research-demonstration gardens with the nursery industry group at Hammond Thursday. Many of these gardens are now all-native, with plants grown by Dr. Yan Chen and her staff, from seed collected, provided to the station by yours truly, in 2013.

IMG_8551

There are many very long, eight feet wide garden beds clearly labeled and filled with hundreds of plants of Narrow Leafed Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Splitbeard Bluestem, Indian grass, Switch grass, Tridens grass, Love grass, and Side Oats Gramma grass. Dr. Yan is interested in the conservation value and overall functionality of the grasses. She spoke about their beauty and of their horticultural qualities. She spoke of their connection to “the sense of place”. There are also gardens of some of the better horticultural species of prairie and Pine herbaceous flowering plants , too.

IMG_8562

above, Dr. Yan Chen discusses the attributes of native prairie grasses. Behind Dr. Yan, you can see the bright red of the knockout Roses in the Natives and Popular Plant Care and Maintenance Gardens. These are gardens demonstrating native companion plants for the Red Knockout Rose and common annual Vinca.

IMG_8569

Little Bluestem grass is a knock-out.

Actually, the Little Blue is laying over here more than it would in a poor soil without irrigation. We talked about cutting these back just before bloom in order that they stay more erect. Prairie grasses are used to the worst soil and are adaptable to super-low moisture, and low nutrient soils

IMG_8563

Large yellow flowers of Hibiscus aculeatus, Pineland Hibiscus bloom after being cut back in the summer after their first flowers went to fruit.

IMG_8568

Dr. Yan has cut the flower heads of the Texas Coneflower, Rudbeckia nitida var. Texana, twice this year, at late April and June, harvesting lots of seed and creating a chance for the plants to re-bloom, which they have. So by manipulation, you can get three flushes of flowers. Normally they would bloom just once.

DSC_0386DSC_0378

above, the Care and Maintenance gardens in June, with Rudbeckia nidita at peak flower, Indian grass in glaucus foliage. (photos by Yan Chen)

IMG_8575

above, among other horticultural delights at the field day was this Celosia, a non-native, yes, but a great bee plant. There is value in pollinators that aren’t native. see the celosia-bee video below…

IMG_8570

Purely for horticulture’s sake, the very striking nine foot tall dark purple colored grass Black Stockings Fountain Grass, Pennisetum trispecific. Grasses are swell.

IMG_8603

IMG_8595

coefficient of conservatism determines what species are endemic to a particular habitat and how each species is placed in terms of rarity in the habitat.

IMG_8597

with prairie landscapes, the extended period of flowering and the diversity-variation of species carries pollinators through the entire growing season.

IMG_8602

these two above pages are only two of a total of five pages of phenology for the Coastal Prairie of La., The Cajun Prairie.

IMG_8594

Indian grass seed from the Cajun Prairie was used to grow six inch plugs, for the extra-steep slope at Repentance Park, Baton Rouge. Horticultural uses of natives has great potential for industry expansion, enhancement. the Picture sent to my freind Joe James, with Reed-Hilderbrand Architects, who helped design the Park. Someone with City gov’t sent him the image with this note, “With a hectic week of development and activity downtown, I was walking by and just had to pause at Repentance Park. There is something wonderfully beautiful about the Indian Grass in the fall. Check it out!”

backing fires, black lines and head fires, oh, my!

IMG_8348

above, the burn plan before I burned with Kurt Kotteman of Kotteman Tree and Forestry Service Monday. He and his crew let me, el gringo, help. It was the largest burn I have been involved with. What an exciting fire it was. We started at ten and got done at about 6, a long day. I got to throw some head fire once we got the southern portion protected, blacked-in. Head fires are exhilarating in this scale and the ferocity, compared to backing fires, especially when you have Inkberry en mass is impressive. Large patches of the colonizing Inkberry Holly, Ilex glabra and Big Inkberry Holly, Ilex coreacea, grow along with fine fuel grasses in Pine prairie habitat. The leaves of both black-berried Gallberries contain a waxy coating that is highly flammable. With a head fire and some wind, these masses of shrubbery go up in red flaming leaps of twenty feet or higher. Leapin’ lizards!!!! the dotted line is a line Kurt used as a safe line, due to its high moisture and low, very little, fuel load.

this on-the-fly video shows the immediate result of laying down a continuous fifty foot line of flame in a Gallbery patch with with a five mph wind behind it, and seeing the immediate reaction. Its tough getting through the Gallberry patches especially when you have fire on your tail and you get wrapped up in a greenbriar (smilax)! Yeee-Ouch, already!!

Baygall, Hammock, Bay head, all synonymous.

:  red bay
2
:  a tract of swampy land; especially  :  a low-lying tract of boggy or spongy land in the southern U.S. usually overgrown with the inkberry and with bay trees
IMG_8267
Baygalls are cool. There are loaded with evergreen shrubs and trees. Ilex coreacea, foreground on left, is a beautiful plant. The only place I’ve ever seen it for sale was through Woodlanders, Aiken, SC. But it should be more available. Dark green waxy leaves, with plants that form colonies, tight thickets.
I once asked famous Texas natives landscape designer and nurseryman Will Fleming of Hempstead, Tx., why he like Ilex coreacea and he said “Because its pretty.”.
Wow. pretty good reason.
In the baygall along with coreacea, you’ll find Red Bay (Persea), Sweet Bay (Magnolia virginiana), Southern Magnolia, Ilex glabra, Lyonia lucida, Itea virginica, Smilax, Cepalanthus occidentalis, Pinus palustrus (Long Leaf Pine), Pinus taeda, Black Gum, Taxodium ascendens, sphagnum, chasmanthium, wax Myrtle, odorless wax Myrtle, Cinnamon fern, Mitchellia repens, with a cyrilla thrown in every now and then. In east Louisiana Baygalls, you might see the rare Clethra alnifolia. In the western-most Louisiana baygalls you may find the rare Rudbeckia scabrifolia, Rough Coneflower, which is nearly identical to La. Coastal Tallgrass prairie’s R. Nitida, but is specific only to baygalls.
The shaded Baygalls transition into pitcher plant bogs, which are open and sunny and grass dominant. Baygalls have very little vegetation on the ground. Soils are sandy and are generally wet with occasional seeps, springs that can be tiny or very substantial. Fires generally blow through the grassy pitcher plant bogs and stop dead at Baygalls, with fuel levels low, and moisture levels high.
IMG_8262
thickets of black-berried holly cover an area of a Baygall, in St Tammany Parish, Louisiana click to enlarge
IMG_8265
The adjacent, grassy, pitcher plant bog in the distance, shining in the sun.
Gaillardia aestivalis, butterfly magnet 
IMG_8630 IMG_8611 IMG_8624 IMG_8626 IMG_8627 IMG_8680
IMG_8612IMG_8623
speaking of high horticulture, on of the highlighted plants LSU is touting is the Mesa Gailardia. A good plant, I’m sure. This’n above, is a variant species, an east Texan, Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri, found in very small populations in ten counties including Newton, which is on the state line with Loosiana. hmmm. These are variations of the white, the normal color of this subspecies. These surely have some horticultural promise. and they are all exceptional butterfly/ nectar plants. The bestest!
Gailardia aestivalis is yellow centered and maroon wine petaled in Loosiana with some populations having the subspecies flavovirens, an all yellow.
Prairie Event – February 5-7th 2016, Alexandria area, Loosiana, for more info, check in with Louisiana Native Plant Society after the middle of this month, when this program in its entirety, will be posted. Whodat!

8:30-9:00 Dr. Charles Allen – Prairie Garden Dynamics – Natural Changes Through the Years

9:00-9:30 Larry Allain –  Prairie Conservation and the Fate of Native Pollinators

9:30-10:00 Jim Foret – How to Solve All of the World’s Problems Using Prairie

10:00-10:15 Break

10:15-10:45 Dr. Malcolm Vidrine –  The Cajun Prairie Gardens and the Cajun Prairie Restoration Project in Eunice – Flowering Phenology as it Relates to Natural Landscaping, Pollinators and Just Plain ‘Knock Your Eyes Out’ Beauty!

10:45-11:15 Beth Erwin – What I Have Learned About Hydrology and Prairies in Northeast Louisiana

11:15-11:45 Jessie Johnson – Briarwood’s Wildflower Meadow and How it Came into Being Because of Hungry Voles

11:45-12:30 Lunch

12:30-1:15 Business meeting (begins mid-way through lunch, in lunch room)

1:30-2:30 Jim Willis – Wildlife Habitat Federation – Bringing Back the B’s–Restoring Native Habitat in the Coastal Prairie

Larry Allain, Botanist, USGS National Wetlands Center, Lafayette, La

Charles Allen, Botanist, Fort Polk, Louisiana, Environmental, Colorado State University
Beth Erwin, Curator, Kalorama Nature Preserve, Collinston, La
Jim Foret, Horticulture, University of Louisiana, Lafayette
Jessie Johnson, Curator, Caroline Dorman Nature Preserve, Saline, La
Malcolm Vidrine, Biologist, Louisiana State University, Eunice
Jim Willis, Co-founder/ President, Wildlife Habitat Federation-Jim Willis Consultants, LLC, Cat Springs, Tx
IMG_8524 IMG_7009

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