Yesterday I was poking around outside, using words like dicot and monocot with Kate, my kiddo. I was also explaining that most plants have common names and how they can be confusing so she should learn the scientific names when she can. Just exposing her to vocabulary and ideas I didn’t get until adulthood. Anyhow, we got around the yard to the pocket prairie and a meowing began. It was a familiar meow. It belongs to a neighbor cat that only speaks to me because I’ve let him in and out of his house when his people are on vacation. He tolerates a little scratching from me but not always. Which means I love him a lot. Even though he’s a cat.
Last semester in the Ecology of Invasive Species class, one of our our guest lecturers, Dr. Loss, spoke about cats. House cats. Not bob cats or panthers. We learned that outdoor cats are responsible for 60+ extinctions. And I’ve learned from the same neighbors, a long time ago, what goes into declawing a cat which would probably fix the killing of a lot of small creatures but is an incredibly cruel thing to do to any animal. And. Duh. Would defeat the purpose of having a cat for many people. Mouse patrol for the cost of kibble and a few snuggles.
After learning about cats as an invasive species, I have a really hard time liking them. I didn’t care for them before, not in my house, for sure. But what do you do? Exterminate all cats? Condemn them all to the indoors? It’s unfair. As I’m sure it seems unfair not to be able to go to any body of water with your boat and not worry about cleaning it up before leaving the area. Who cares about some little mussels and stuff?? (See zebra and quagga mussels) it’s for the good of everyone long term to worry about and deal with invasive species. And in the case of cats, here’s my advice: fix them! Spay, neuter, fix, whatever. Don’t let them multiply in the wild.
So I have no idea if this guy is fixed or not. His owners are smart adults. I’m sure he’s keeping the mice at bay around our house too, since I see him in our backyard when the dogs are inside. He doesn’t bother me unless he’s trying to talk me into opening a door for him. I do like him tho. When they brought him and his cat house mate home, they were little. They stayed indoors for a long time and when they finally came outside, they wanted nothing to do with me. Until the people went on vacation and I was letting them in and out every day. Ever since then, this one tries to convince me to let him in and out. Even when his people are home. It cracks me up. He sees one value in me and that’s it. Bleh. It makes me happy to finally see who has been bedding down in the tall grass tho. Even though he doesn’t know I grew it and maybe there’s more than one positive attribute to me. Ha. And Kate… well she got to see the cat for sticking with me on the Latin tour of the yard lol. Probably the best distraction ever.
I’m not a cat hater. I swear.
more on that here:
it snowed here this morning. It’s beautiful! Look at those plants catching the snow and funneling the moisture down to their own roots. They’ve most likely caught way more snow than the short mowed Bermuda in other parts of the lawn. I couldn’t help but get a little video as I left to take my daughter to school.
We had our first hard freeze here in Oklahoma, at least in OKC. I don’t know about farther south of the metro tho. It’s an important time of year for many reasons. Number 1 on my mind is that most everything has senesced or died completely. It makes for a vastly different look in my garden, my flowerbeds and the pocket prairie. Of course my first compulsion is to go out and cut everything back but as you know, those dead plants are providing habitat for many things right now. I may clean up everything but the pocket prairie because I consider it and the native plants to be the most important (I’m kidding, I’ll probably not do anything until after finals) for our native wildlife. Whatever gets cleaned up, the pocket prairie stays until mid-March when other food sources begin to grow. Unless of course it becomes some sort of hazard. At that point, I do what needs to be done. 🤷🏼♀️
2nd on my mind is to remind you, if you’re starting wildflowers from seed, some need cold stratification, scarification, etc… this freeze/wet/warm/freeze/whatever the weather brings is ideal for some of those. It’s the natural process that helps the seed coat wear down so the seed can germinate. If you have seeds that require those things, and you’re not into micromanaging, go ahead and put them out now. When we started the pocket prairie, the seeds were mixed with soil and spread this time of year. It was all I could handle, patience wise, to wait for the first tiny seedlings to emerge and begin to grow. And find out what they were!!
3rd on my mind is this: a lot of gardeners are very proactive with their tools and probably spend this time of year cleaning, oiling, sharpening, replacing and what not. My husband breaks the shovels and I break the smaller stuff. We don’t buy the most expensive garden tools… this may be half or all of the problem lol. Whatever. My point is, there are lots of garden-related things to be done this time of year if it gives you the blues seeing less green. Planning for spring and shopping for seeds is tops for me, personally. I’m hoping to move the largest grasses in the pocket prairie to other, more appropriate, places in our yard and take the pocket prairie more in a mixed or short grass direction. Use more of those giant things as landscaping around the house. I’m not sure when the best time to do that is but I’m sure I won’t be able to mess it up too bad. I just need to plan for the max height and drooping better.
What are you thinking about, working on, planning for right now? Send me a message! I’d love to connect with more pocket prairie people. JD 🌵🍂🍁
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Some observations are from the pocket prairie but most are from across the state and where ever I go. 😍🌿
visiting a maximillion sunflower, Helianthus maximillionanii 😍
Today I learned that I don’t know Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) without the blooms. We’ve watched for it all summer and have been passing it without realizing. I’ll be paying more attention from now on. Today, they were there, in all their glory and made for a beautiful scene with the dew, the fog and the pasture!
Snow on the Mountain is native in most of the lower 48 states including Oklahoma. It grows 1-3′ high and is an annual.
This plant is toxic if consumed but can cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals just from being handled.
Probably the most interesting thing about this plant are the flowers. The actual flowers are pretty small and inconspicuous. The parts we see and think are flowers are actually modified leaves called bracts surrounding the small flowers, much like it’s relative the Poinsettia.
Snow on the Mountain can be confused with Snow on the Prairie. Snow on the Prairie Euphorbia bicolor is only native to the southern United States. See if you can tell the difference:
Below are images that show the plant to help with future identification. Not as scenic but helpful. These were taken later the same day after it warmed up, in the same location.
we’ve had incredible wind in Oklahoma City the last 2 days and historically high fire danger. Unfortunately, parts of our state have wildfires burning through acres and acres of property. I’ve read at least one person has died. The fires are 80-100 miles away but the wind is so strong that we’re getting smoke and ash blowing in. These 2 pictures are from yesterday evening when it was getting pretty heavy and I was outside anyway so I decided to document April 2018 in the pocket prairie.
I spent a day this week (my spring break) out in the pocket prairie cutting down the standing dead. There’s already a lot of grass coming up and plants that have emerged and are forming green mounds. I was really excited to see thousands of 1/4″ – 1/2″ seedlings everywhere. They’re probably all Indian Blankets, but that’s ok. I’m holding out hope that some are Butterfly Weeds and maybe some things I haven’t seen yet.
I removed a lot of the debris that was cut down but much of it was left to decompose and feed the soil microbes. I also got a little tired of cutting (with scissors) and left a few patched of the thick dead bermuda grass. I’m hoping it will shade its own self out when it started coming up from the roots. I’ll let you know how that goes. LOL.
I’ve been so busy with school that I don’t think I’ll be putting a lot into ANY of my gardening this year. I’m really hoping that things won’t get too out of control in my raised beds with no veggies planted and no one tending to them all week, every week. I doubt I will add any new plants to the pocket prairie as I have for the last 2 years. I’ll just be watching to see what it does on it’s own. Hoping the tall, native grasses will continue to spread and make less room for the Bermuda. We shall see. If you can’t tell, I’m a little perplexed on how to get rid of the Bermuda because I can’t pull it all without disturbing the roots of everything else and cutting it obviously just makes it shorter as seen on our lawn. Do you have any thoughts on this? A good voodoo spell? LOL, please leave a comment. I’ll hear you out and maybe even try your suggestion as long as it won’t hurt the other plants and living things. 🚫🌾