Monday, July 11, 2011

The "new" (now in its second year) prairie, shot today from the standard view I've used in several postings. The pink flower in the foreground is clarkia, the white flower is yarrow, and there are several other flowers in this image that may or may not be visible, including silky lupine, gallardia, and cinquefoil. Much of the green is epilobium (there is a post on this plant from last year), which will bloom with small pink flowers in the next few weeks. The image isn't all that different from what you could see last year, but there are many more plants out there. I have been intrigued by the vigorousness of plants like this clarkia in the foreground, that these plants in nature are usually much smaller than what shows up in my restoration project in the first few years of a new area. I suspect this has to do with having less competition, and that new areas have not built up much of a crust of mulch that is found in original undisturbed prairie. In older areas, as with the six-year-old area below, the plants begin to look more like what you'd see in native prairie. I still don't have all that much "crust" here either but there is more competition. I think the real crust takes a long time...I don't really have that anywhere on the property.

In this next image, in two-year-old prairie, you can see how a gallardia plant has grown quite large. Even though there are a lot of plants of various sorts here, you can also see dirt, which indicates that things have not really filled in yet, and so there is less competition. Idaho fescue is there, for example, but being planted just last fall it is only an inch tall or so. I think I just have to accept the process here, and appreciate that these large plants produce a lot of seeds that I can use throughout the project. Voles decimated about half of my gallardia last year (the image above would have had two of these big gallardias before the feast last year), so I am happy to harvest seeds from the six or seven large gallardias I have left in various spots.

The last image shows a new arrival this year. I got quite a few of these Phacelia heterophylla (the spiky white flower) to come up from seed--for awhile it was the "mystery plant" out there until it bloomed. Seeing it made me realize that there is also quite a lot of it down the gravel road from our house. There are several quite large ones (this may be the gallardia effect, as above) in the gravel amongst several aggressive nasty weeds that sprouted when the gravel road was widened and worked on. I think it's interesting to see a native competing successfully with several invasive non-native species.