Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Drainage Ditch Free Nursery

Nothing for months, and then two posts in a week, but it's Spring!

I was checking on how things were coming back to life in the prairie and discovered the results of an experiment over the last two years.  I had noticed that beside a gravel road near here there were a few large drifts of Upland larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum) that had apparently shed their seeds into the gravel and created a blanket of larkspur seedlings.  They are the 5- to 7-bladed gray-green leaves you see here.

Every year around May 1, the county comes through and sprays the drainage ditch with herbicide, so these will be toast, thus justifying my effort to rescue them, but I wasn't sure it would even work.  Some plants do very well, but a lot of natives hate to be moved, so it really only makes sense to do it if they're gong to be killed anyway.  So, two years ago, and again last year, I showed up with a trowel and bucket and dug 2-3 small clumps, transplanted them to similar habitat in my prairie.  The discovery this year was that I had healthy larkspur coming back in 2 out of 3 plantings.  That makes it worth the effort.  So this year I moved twelve shovel-sized clumps out of the free nursery in the drainage ditch.   We shall see...

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