Sunday, April 17, 2011


This desolation was caused by voles, the little short-tailed field mice who eat plants, roots, and bulbs, and they apparently felt that they hit the jackpot when they got to this spot, which last year had 15 clumps of sisyrinchium, 5 or 6 fritillaria pudica, several delphinium, and a few other lovely native plants. These little buggers have been a significant scourge since late last summer, and it was pretty sad to see a spot that I had nursed along for almost ten years reduced to this.

Nevertheless, looking closely, I can see little green hairs that indicate baby sisyrinchium. I think the fritillaria and deliphinium are toast, but clearly vole attacks are one of the strategies Nature uses to spread sisyrinchium, which otherwise become crowded clumps of the beautiful little flowers. I discovered years ago that I could dig up one of my fat clumps and divide it, and even single plants would usually survive. They are accustomed to being ravaged by voles, I guess, and after an attack, several little bulbs escape and start new clumps. I have decided that I will leave this spot alone for now and see how/whether it recovers.

This is the current view of the new prairie, showing a lot of Idaho fescue coming up at the moment.
In the area between the young ponderosa pine in the center of the image and the fence, I have planted numerous clumps of sisyrinchium, divided from large clumps from elsewhere in the prairie. There is a small clump of prairie star amongst them, moved from a growing colony of it at the foot of the silver maple in the front yard (I have no idea how/why it started showing up there, but I intend to use the spot as my prairie star nursery). One triumph I spotted just north of that small ponderosa pine, is a red besseya (besseya rubra) just starting to bloom in a clump of sedge and maybe a couple of other things that are coming up; I dug this clump out of a drainage ditch last Spring. Here is an image of the new sisyrinchium coming up...

I have been writing a peculiar composition for the opera, an instrumental piece that accompanies action without singing. Yes, that makes it a mime, but no one should be wearing white makeup. If it stands apart from its support of the scene, as a piece on its own, I may post it on my website. I keep trying to find ways to make these pieces come together more quickly, but I accept now that there is no way to rush compositions, recording, or prairie restoration. Thank goodness there are no music-consuming voles in the studio!