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. 🚫🌾
Here’s a word I learned this semester. Mostly in regards to grass but I think it is applicable to other plants as well.
It has to do with the phase of life of a plant from maturity to death. It’s also when a perennial grass translocates all of it’s nutrients and energy down to the roots for winter storage. Those above ground plant parts that are now dead and can be referred to as ‘standing dead’. They will eventually breakdown. They have senesced. New tillers will come up, they may be there, poking up, now in late December, depending on the plant. The dictionary definitions available in a google search of the word all say it has to do with deterioration with age. I’m not sure if there’s a major difference in how rangeland professionals use the word and the clinical, dictionary definition.
Switch grass and others, senesced, McCoy Pocket Prairie Winter 2017
How is this relevant to the pocket prairie? I think it’s important to know just what’s happened to the grass. It’s senesced. It’s translocated it’s stores of food and energy into the roots. What’s standing out there today is not going to come back to life but the roots are still alive and new grasses and forbs will grow from that if they are perennial in our zone. The standing dead still serves a purpose though. It holds the seeds that wildlife need to make it through the winter. It’s also providing cover for wildlife, insects and domestic roaming pets included. All the dead grass out there isn’t very pretty unless you know what’s happened and that it has a purpose. After that, your eyes start to tune into a different kind of beauty. Slowly. Hopefully.
I’ve been super busy at school, taking classes for my degree in Natural Resource Ecology and Management (my option is rangeland ecology). The final grades are in and I’ve got 3 A’s and a B! I was NOT expecting a B in Chemistry but this is awesome. I’ve learned so much and I am excited for spring semester.
When I look at this blog, I know the original purpose was to make the Pocket Prairie a little more legit and to hold answers to anticipated questions. I thought it would be a great place to document the seasons and what I’ve done with the Pocket Prairie. But while I’m studying and learning so much about larger prairies and other rangeland types, I feel a bit ashamed. I’m embarrassed that this is not as educational as it could be. Its got a lot of potential but I’m not a writer. I look back at pictures I’ve posted of things I knew were native but could not identify and think I could do more research. Should be doing more research. arrggg.
I’ve had all the time in the world until school started but I needed help. I can’t figure things out from pictures on the internet. A lot of grasses look the same from afar. Or from blurry pictures on the computer screen and I didn’t know enough to use illustrations to distinguish. I’m getting there. This is part of why I was really excited to join the Society for Rangeland Management (SRM) Student organization at Oklahoma State University (I commute and study there). Every year there is a professional national meeting of the SRM and the student organizations go and participate in contests and events. One such contest is the Plant ID contest so as a member of Range Club, I’ve joined the Plant ID Team (YEAAAAYYY!!!!!!) and have begun learning about 200 plants’ genus, species, family/tribe, lifespan (perennial or annual) and if they are native or introduced. This is done under a VERY knowledgeable professor who I like a lot. Heck, so far I like them all. About 88/200 plants are grasses. Very few are introduced (non-native). I’ve started learning them and can tell more apart now and I’m happy to say that I can identify most of what’s in the Pocket Prairie.
Anyhow. Here’s the plan from here on out:
I may (will probably) still post infrequently but when I do, it will be in more detail.
If I don’t know the ID of something I’ll ask until I get it. I want visitors to this blog to be able to take away knowledge or at least an exposure to a new name or idea.
I want my next post to be about some of the grasses I’ve learned and about rangeland and prairies in general. Do you have a specific question in that area? Let me know.
It’s about 28°F here right now so no picture today.
I’m saving cutting back the Pocket Prairie for mid March so it’s looking pretty scraggly but you know, the wild birds are finding seeds in there and have a place to hide. It’s more than a pretty thing for me in the summer. ♥️🌱 JD
What a difference 2 weeks and 4.5″-5″ of rain can make! Everything is so lush and tall now!The blanket flowers are blooming again.
There are all kinds of crawling and flying things that I’ve never seen before.
The tropical milkweed is covered in aphids… No surprise there.
I’ve got a few Coreopsis blooming. This is one of my favorites.
I have no Idea what this guy is.
Quite a few things climbing on this milkweed.
This has never bloomed before so I need to find out what it is 😎
What kind of grass is this??!!
And this grass? What is it? I’ve got work to do!
Yesterday I made the trek up to Stillwater to visit Bustani Plant Farm and take care of some jdstar business. I took one of my neighbors with me and we combed up and down every aisle reading every description and oohing and ahhing over all of the plants. I had only been once before and it was last fall at the very end of their season. I was pretty excited to see what they looked like fully stocked.
So I bought 14 plants, all but one, the Passion Flower, for the pocket prairie. Passion Flower is going in my front flowerbed and something I’ve been looking for for about a month. I picked the other plants because they are native to this area of the country and would help jumpstart the color out there.
So here are the plants, linked to a description:
Fall Blooming Allium Allium stellatum
Giant Coneflower Rudbeckia maxima
Golden False Indigo Baptisia sphaerocarpa
Narrow-leaf Sunflower Helianthus angustifolius
Poppy Mallow Callirhoe involucrata
Rayless Gaillardia Gaillardia suavis
Rock Pink Talinum calycinum
Autumn Sneezeweed Helenium autumnale
Mexican Hat Ratibida columnifera
Magnus Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’
Silky Gold Butterfly Weed Asclepias curassavica
Hoary Vervain Verbena stricta
Lead Plant Amorpha canescens
Everything was planted out and watered in this morning. We’ve been talking about where to put the sign and considering adding a pocket library to the pocket prairie. It would be a great place to share some of the gardening books I no longer use. I’m hoping the pole will be placed sometime today. As you can see below, it’s still looking pretty rough. This feels like the hardest part. Waiting and hoping I am not forced to mow it. This picture is from today. What do you think?
If you’re seeing this, it’s probably because we finally got our signs posted and you found out about the pocket prairie’s blog 🙂
Pocket Prairie and Monarch Waystation signs!
If not… Lookie! My signs both came and I can’t wait to get them posted. I think I’m going to wait until the grass gets a little higher before we dig the hole and plant the pole. At any rate, I’m pretty pleased with my personal sign explaining what we are doing and where to get more information (HERE!).
I also went out this week and seeded 2 packets of Asclepius tuberose just to be sure I’ve got that covered for the monarchs. It may be a little late in the spring for this but I have them in other parts of my yard so I can always seed again in the fall and not worry about having none at all.
What do you think? Is this how you found the blog? Have you been wondering why we’ve neglected the weeds in this one area while planting and cleaning up other areas? Let me know what your thoughts are, I’m really curious about what you’d like to know.
I went out yesterday to check in on the pocket prairie and saw some new babies popping up. While I was looking, I saw one or 2 of each and thought it was going to be a little sad on the wildflower front this year. I went back out today to get pictures in better light and I started noticing many more of the same babies. I can’t tell you what they are yet but I’m putting up my baby pictures any way 😄 I’m also including a picture of a little tiny mound of grass. I don’t know if these are part of the seeds (I’m not great with identifying grass until it goes to seed) but I saw them all over the yard and in the median in front of our house so probably not. I did notice that after the first mow of the lawn, the little mounds are gone. Maybe the mow killed them. No idea. But they are still here in the prairie where we have not mowed. Let me know what your think. If you’ve walked by this week, have you noticed these babies?
If you’ve never been by, you can see there are a lot of “weeds” in there. Bermuda Grass and other things. I’m waiting on most of this to see how the native grasses do. I will be going out and removing anything that’s not allowing the native plants to thrive. I also have a lot to learn about what’s native and what’s not. I’m not rushing this thing.
Welcome to the McCoy Pocket Prairie Garden and blog! I’m sure that if you are here, you are curious about the large rectangle on the west side of out lot. Thank you for making it this far, I’m excited to tell you all about it!
First, for people who aren’t from around here, you should know that this area of our corner city lot in inner-city Oklahoma City was mowed regularly, never watered and only used as a place to walk for people trying to stay out of the street. This seems like a perfect place to seed native grasses and wildflowers as a way station for migrating butterflies and to naturalize a small area of our lot. It’s pretty much neglected and only growing weeds to be mowed. So here’s what we’ve done:
I attended a workshop in fall 2015 about starting a pocket prairie. It was put on by The Nature Conservancy and a local landscaping company called Olthia. They provided ~$35 worth of seed for the project. It consisted of 80% Native grasses (Indian Grass, Little Blue Stem, Big Blue Stem and others) and 20% Native wildflowers. Think Indian Blanket and others.
Back in the coldest part of the winter we measured out the area we wanted to use, About 7’x20′. We left room to mow on all sides to provide walking space on the street side and a boundary between the fence and the prairie on the east side. We also used our weed eater to cut the existing grass as close to the dirt as we could. We then mixed all the seeds into a large bag of soil and then, as a family, sprinkled the seed & soil mix evenly around our rectangle. Since then, it’s been a wait and see thing. I’m so curious to see what seeds make it and how it’s going to fit in once things get tall. Will the neighbors hate it, love it, REPORT IT?
We shall see. I’m starting this blog as a place to keep notes and allow curious people to have their questions answered. Send me any you have and I’ll see what I can do. -JD