Senescence

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.

Senesced switch grass, Panicum virgatum, December 2017

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.

 

 

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August Picture Update

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What a difference 2 weeks and 4.5″-5″ of rain can make! Everything is so lush and tall now!IMG_1870The blanket flowers are blooming again.

IMG_1869There are all kinds of crawling and flying things that I’ve never seen before.

IMG_1868The tropical milkweed is covered in aphids… No surprise there.

IMG_1867I’ve got a few Coreopsis blooming. This is one of my favorites.

IMG_1866I have no Idea what this guy is.

IMG_1865Quite a few things climbing on this milkweed.

IMG_1864This has never bloomed before so I need to find out what it is 😎

IMG_1859Another visitor

IMG_1858What kind of grass is this??!!

IMG_1862And this grass? What is it? I’ve got work to do!

Welcome!

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