Friday, January 13, 2012

Wrapping up the Mowing

The weather has been perfect for winter mowing activities.  I managed to finish all of those areas that I thought were critical for this year.  Odd cloud formations often signal a change in the weather.  The clouds and the official weather forecasts were telling me that this was probably my last good mowing day for a while.

The field doesn’t look quite as cheerful beneath gray rain clouds.  This section was mowed last year for the purpose of killing the invading Black Walnuts.  Black Walnuts sprout late in the spring and then grow very rapidly.  There’s only a short time in which to safely spray the walnuts before they get too tall.  During the optimum spraying time last year, it rained every day I was at home, so the spraying didn’t get done.  I mowed around some of the tallest sprouts so I didn’t dull JR’s blade.  It’s amazing how much growth the stump sprouts can produce in a single growing season.

The valley at the trail head was once filled with Smooth Sumac and other brush.  I’m still working to get rid of some Multiflora Roses and a few miscellaneous other species. 
I’m coming close to eliminating the invasives from this area.  A few years ago, the red flags marking invasive plants were too numerous to count.  Now they’re hard to spot.

Years ago, I put a priority on management work near the walking trails.  My goal was to make it possible to take a short walk without seeing all of the work I still had ahead of me.  The problem is my habit of adding new goals to the bottom of my management list more rapidly than I remove them from the top.  I sometimes have to remind myself that this was once a scene of Multiflora Rose, Autumn Olive and Bush Honeysuckle.  At least now, except for the bright green fescue, I’m looking at a landscape of native species.

The trail was established when the primary cover was fescue.  Over the years, Indian Grass has made its way down hill from the east.  The six foot wide trail has proven to be an effective barrier to the advance of the Indian Grass.  In open fields, Indian Grass advances rapidly along the lines of the prevailing winds.  At Blue Jay Barrens that means that Indian Grass is quite effective at colonizing areas to the east by way of wind blown seed.  Movement to the west is more sedate and a mowed trail can be a formidable barrier.

The Indian Grass managed to jump the gap in the section where the trail narrows to four feet.  The crossing occurred ten years ago, but movement to the west has only averaged about one foot per year.

This is the area of missing Monardas.  Scattered plants managed to flower higher on the hillside, but the die out was complete in the level valley floor.  I don’t expect any blooms this year, but I hope to see the plants starting to come back. 

I marked a few young roses for elimination.  They only had one or two canes each, so they can’t really be referred to as bushes.  I think they are sprouts from very small roses that got mowed off last year.  I think I can say that the invasive shrubs are now under control. 


  1. Maybe you've answered this before. I understand roses are invasive species, but black walnuts? I thought they were natives from east Texas to the Atlantic and north to Canada.

  2. Hi Victorian Barbarian. The Black Walnut is indeed a native species. I'm eliminating these because they interfere with my goal of developing a prairie ecosystem in the field. The seed source for these walnut sprouts is a group of Black Walnuts planted in the yard by a previous owner.