Thursday, April 3, 2014

Drainage Ditch Delphinium

Newly-transplanted Delphinium nuttallianum

An often-repeated rule of native plant enthusiasm is that transplanting is not a good idea, for good reason.  The reason for this is at least two-fold, that digging in a native plant location damages the environment and that dug-up native plants rarely survive anyway.  There is an exception to this rule, and that is if the plants are threatened and likely to be destroyed.  Then it's rescue.

There are several locations I keep an eye on, because there is pristine Palouse prairie coming right up to the road, with a bank and a gravel ditch between them.  Because the county drives these gravel back roads every year in tanker trucks, spraying these banks and ditches with herbicide, native plants in the drainage ditches are fair game for rescue, since they will soon be dead anyway.  They will spray again in another month or so.  Last year one particular spot had a sudden arrival of many, many Upland larkspur (Deliphinium nuttallianum), seeded from the prairie above.  Because I knew they were toast, I dug four clumps out of the gravel (because of the gravel, their roots were easy to extricate) to see if this would even work, and three out of four of them returned this year.  Possibly, the fact that I am only moving these plants about a mile means that the change in conditions is not that dramatic.  Nevertheless, the success of this project sent me back there today, and sure enough, there was another blanket of Upland larkspur in the gravel.  This time I got five clumps.  Ever hopeful.   

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