Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spring 2013

Idaho blue-eyed grass (Sisyrhincium idahoensis), blooming in the prairie today

I always find an excuse to post an image of these every Spring; they are such a stunningly beautiful native plant.  They grow in clumps, and sometime the voles will dive in and chomp a clump like this and spread it out into six plants.  There is a house down the road a bit that has been there maybe fifteen years.  It was built on a lovely little chunk of native prairie that I used to walk down to all the time.  One year at about this time--it must have been around 1996--I was stunned to see a load of soil and gravel dumped right on this prairie, with maybe ten clumps of blue-eyed grass struggling to get out of it.  Usually with native plants, you have to assume that digging them up is a waste of time since you will surely kill them, and damage the soil pulling them out.  I think it is still righteous to go for something in a gravelly road drainage where they spray death every year, and I decided that this site was seriously threatened and I was justified digging up these clumps to save them.  I wish I had dug the other hundred clumps in the area, because within a few months they had excavated the entire spot for a foundation (had they built just 200 yards closer to the road, they would had a fine homesite and spared a treasure...sigh...).

Anyway, I planted those ten clumps, not expecting much, but they thrived!  In subsequent years, I learned that I could separate out multiple plants from a clump like this and spread them around, and only once in awhile would I lose one.  The voles have eaten their share.  But I continue to choose a few clumps on the property every year (the big one above is next) to dig up and separate into maybe eight smaller clumps, developing little drifts in several areas.  In the last few years they have started seeding themselves too, and in a few spots are starting to look like actual drifts, as in the top image.