Prairie Gold

I’ve read that pioneers called their wagons prairie schooners.  If they crossed my acre and a half of restored remnant prairie today, they would be sailing over a sea of flowers.  I can totally relate to the bees.  I am drawn to this blooming bounty and am fueled by it.prairie-view You can see a map of our land with the prairie remnant highlighted in yellow by clicking here.

If we had not walked this high slope with a naturalist our first year on the land, we might not have realized that we were crossing a remnant prairie. We would have let the rows of young spruce growing there shade out and bury under their needles all the prairie phlox and meadow rue, wild bergamot, compass plant and the vast tribe of sunflowers and asters that are now jumping up to meet the sun.

Ever since I learned about all the jet fuel and pesticide that goes into getting cheap (and not so cheap) blossoms to the flower shop in my local grocery store, I switched over to cut flowers from the farmers market.

Could anyone have arranged this bouquet better than Mother N?

Could anyone have arranged this bouquet better than Mother N?

Since the first year we first burned our prairie, I have been amazed by the slow-mo explosion of color at my feet.  I could go on for hours.

How about a boquet with a stem for a vase?

How about a bouquet with a stem for a vase?

prairie-dogbane

Praire Dogbane, so called because it is highly poisonous. Also called Indian Hemp. Native Americans made things like bowstrings and fishing nets from its stem and also used this plant as a laxative, cardiac stimulant, cough medicine and a potion for expelling internal parasites. This prairie is more than a flower shop -- it's a drug store.

We have been doing everything we can to encourage this Praire Milkweed.  It's a particular favorite of Monarch butterlies -- and the need all the help they can get.

We have been doing everything we can to encourage this Prairie Milkweed. It's a particular favorite of Monarch butterflies -- and they need all the help they can get.

I'm not even sure what this is.  I call it Prairie snap dragon.

I'm not even sure what this is. I call it Prairie snap dragon. (newsflash 072709 -- I just learned this is Yellow toadflax -- another escaped ornamental and considered invasive. Sigh.)

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3 replies

  1. Your prairie is looking beautiful!

    We’re on a similar (much smaller) quest in south central Kansas. We purchased 10 acres about 2 1/2 years ago and are working to restore the prairie habitat that was found here originally.

    While we have about 7 acres of “remnant” prairie that has never been plowed, it has been terribly overgrazed and probably treated with broadleaf herbicides over the years. We’ve burned most of the prairie once now and it’s trying hard to come back to life, but it will be a slow process.

    I look forward to keeping up to date on how your projects are going.

    • Our experience has been that remnant prairie can have amazing vigor–even after a lot of abuse. We are constantly amazed at the dramatic increase in prairie natives every year. We do walk it (because at an acre-and-a-half, we can) with our scythes, three or four times in the spring and early summer cutting out the invasives there. This summer the number of invasives was noticeably smaller. All over our property, we find that when we push back the invasives, the natives spring up in their place.
      Good luck, and enjoy!
      Denise

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