Friday, April 6, 2012

Prairie Garden - New Part - Early April

The most recent portion of the Prairie Garden is too new to offer much of interest.  This area was sprayed twice with glyphosate herbicide last October and was seeded in November and December.  I always try to plant seed at the same time of year that it is naturally being dropped by the plant.  I figure that should give the seed the right combination of cold, heat, wet or dry conditions necessary for germination.  It’s more successful and much easier than packaging seed and storing it for periods in the freezer.

The glyphosate spray got rid of many of the late season grasses and forbs, but left plenty of seeds from those early flowering species.  The bulk of the green plants now showing are non-native species typically found in disturbed areas around the house and yard.  This is Corn Speedwell, a low growing plant that has no fear of lawn mowers.

The only plants of any height are the Hairy Bittercress.  These little weeds forcibly propel the ripe seeds from the pod, so you don’t want to make a close examination without some eye protection.

Whitlow Grass, Draba verna, has petals that are split down the middle, so the regular four petals often appear to be eight. The split petal easily distinguishes this non-native species from the native Drabas.

Many years ago I excitedly thought these narrow leaved seedlings to be those of a Blazing Star.  I was really disappointed when they turned out to be English Plantain.

Mouse-ear Chickweed is a rather interesting looking plant, but it’s also one of those weedy non-natives.

Purple Dead Nettle often forms a solid mass in crop fields and other disturbed ground.  Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with that type of infestation.  Many of these non-native plants will persist indefinitely in the Prairie Garden, but their vigor will be reduced by competition with the prairie natives.

Many of the native seedlings won’t become evident until later in the season.  There are a few that show themselves early in the spring and they give me hope that my seeding will be successful.  Gray-headed Coneflower is a rapid grower that can often flower in its first year.

Several Purple Coneflower seedlings are appearing.  Besides being a great attractor of butterflies, the Purple Coneflowers help convince the more confused individuals that this is an actual garden and not a weed patch.

Wild Petunias are one of the few natives that readily volunteer in the yard.  It’s nice to know that the lawn hasn’t been completely taken over by alien species.


  1. Hi Steve
    That "purple coneflower" has a prairie dock-ish look to me. Was the latter included in your mix?

  2. Hi James. Prairie Dock was included in my seed mix. I took another look at the plant in question, now with a couple more days growth, and find that it's not looking like nearby seedlings that are definitely Purple Coneflower. It's also not looking exactly like Prairie Dock seedlings emerging in another location. I'll keep watching and make note when I'm positive of the true identity.