Friday, October 4, 2013

The work begins...

I've gone back to work on my gourd banjo recording, just having finished a nice version of my "back-engineered" arrangement of Gottschalk's "Bamboula."  Of course, I've also dived headlong into the grant-supported phase of my prairie restoration.

I've planted all of the plants I purchased thus far, marking each one with a little green flag to keep track of each thing I've added to the project.  The seeds will come later, after I've done a little spraying of weeds and raked the areas where I'm adding seeds.  I took several photos yesterday, showing different views of the southeastern part of the prairie, where most of the intense planting is concentrated, hoping to create a photographic record of the transformation.

In the foreground of the image above is a little green flag marking one of the twenty spots where I planted an Indian paintbrush plant with an Idaho fescue plug and drizzled with a pinch of Idaho fescue seeds.  It sounds like a recipe!  However, Indian paintbrush requires a host plant to survive, and apparently Idaho fescue is a common host around here.  Pat Mason at Pleasant Hill Farm gave me the fescue plugs for the companion planting, and we thought that the drizzled fescue seeds were a good bet too. 

This last image shows the patch of camas bulbs I planted in a wet spot near the southeast corner of the property.  There I put 3-4 bulbs spread out in each hole and marked each hole with a flag.  As you can see, there is some native grass already established, as well as a few other plants and the 23-year-old Ponderosa pines.

I had one interesting problem with five of the plants I purchased from Plants of the Wild in Tekoa, WA., a problem I have run into before...Sometimes people sell a plant as a native, but the variety they are selling is actually more of a cultivated version of the plant.  This often happens around here with Gaillardia aristata, which in addition to being native here is also a popular garden plant.  The version you find in most nurseries has the red of the center of the flower running out to the petals, while the native (at least in this particular area) has the deep rust red center and rich orange-yellow petals.  Fortunately I have gotten that one going from seed I've collected down the road.

In the last few years there have been several businesses started locally that specialize in only plants/seeds collected from this particular area, and I got most of my items from Pleasant Hill Farm in Deary, ID and Thorn Creek Native Seeds in Genesee, ID--both businesses have this philosophy of focusing on local Palouse natives, but Pleasant Hill only had five Roundleaf alumroot (Heuchera cylindrica) plants, so I got five more from Plants of the Wild.  They are an older business, started back in 1979, and sometimes their plants are not the local native varieties.  Here is one of the alumroots I purchased from Pleasant Hill Farm, which look exactly like the ones growing up on Kamiak Butte nearby.

Next is an image of one of the five alumroots I purchased from Plants of the Wild.  This is obviously an entirely different variety!  Fortunately I only purchased five of these, which I put in the northwest part of the prairie where not everything is native. 

 I hope the other plants (native strawberry, camas bulbs, creeping Oregon grape) I purchased from Plants of the Wild are OK--they look fine.  It's frustrating to run into this problem though, making me feel fortunate that businesses like BFI Native Seeds in Moses Lake, WA (where I purchased my native grass seeds), Pleasant Hill Farm, and Thorn Creek Native Seeds exist.  Their products are fabulous.  But doing this sort of thing, one must be vigilant, I guess.