I took some time to check on the area I cleared of cedars back in January. The weather hasn’t provided the best of growing conditions this year, but the plants are still showing a good response to increased sunlight.
The brush pile has compacted to about half of its original height. Cedar brush piles are always glaringly obvious during their first year. When first constructed, their bright green stands out against the winter browns. As plants green up for the summer, the needles of the cut cedars turn reddish brown. The needles will drop before next summer and the brush pile will blend more into its surroundings. That is unless I add more to it this winter.
Shade from the cedars created a sparse ground cover. Now that there’s some light, small plants are racing to fill in the voids. A couple of good growing years should see this area covered by plants.
Increased sunlight was a real help to these Rose Pink plants. They will bloom in the shade, but the number of flowers is reduced. The few plants that are here now should produce enough seed to cover the entire clearing.
Many plants that were surviving in the shade in a much diminished condition, have produced some vigorous growth. This False Gromwell should be able to store enough energy to produce a flower next year.
Wild Petunia does poorly in the shade, but can persist for many years as a small, non-flowering plant. Increased sunlight allows that small plant to quickly expand its size and produce flowers.
I found several small Monarda plants growing in this location. These plants are several hundred feet from the nearest Monarda patch. I like seeing this area get some species that serve well as nectar sources for butterflies and other insects. When these plants bloom next year, it will give me another tool to use when assessing the butterfly population in the area.
Stunted Butterflyweed plants received enough sunlight to produce a few blooms this year. They should be able to create a much larger flower head next year. This plant will also help in drawing in the butterflies.
Gray-headed Coneflower has been here for several years, but has never bloomed well. It should now begin to spread and put on a better floral display. None of these species are rare or new to Blue Jay Barrens. Some rarities may show up as the plants respond to the new conditions in the clearing.
Indian Grass on the lower slopes is much thicker than it has been in previous years. A few of the plants look like they’ll produce seed heads this year.
Soft ground conditions kept me from clearing as much as I had hoped to last winter. If weather conditions permit, I’ll be out next winter continuing with this clearing project. Last year’s effort showed positive results, so I’m anxious to continue with the work.