Introducing myself

greenhaven(SW MI z6)November 10, 2011

Good evening! I have popped my head in here a few times over the years, but our situation is such that I wanted to introduce myself formally.

My name is Shannon, and last year my husband and I bought a house that borders a Nature Conservancy property on two sides. That was not my first exposure to prairie (northern Illinois), I had formed an infatuation years ago. We are very fortunate to be right on the Nachusa Grasslands I am working part-time and temporarily on the seed-collecting crew, and my husband and I are both volunteers, now, since we are finally settled in to our house.

I am learning all the time, but understand how much more there is to learn. We have invaluable resources in the directors and stewards of Nachusa, but I also have considered the GardenWeb forums invaluable.

Thanks in advance for your communications with me!

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Howdy from Western NY State! It's nice to have a prairie person here - I hope you'll share your sights and experiences with the forum!


    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 10:07AM
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lycopus(z5 NY)

I lived in northeastern IL for a few years and often volunteered at Illinois Beach State Park. When I first moved out there it struck me as a rather uninteresting place until I learned the natural history of the region. A nice thing about prairie and savannah plants is that so many are aesthetically pleasing and easily cultivated. I planted in one area of the yard seeds of compass plant, royal catchfly, mountain mint, sky and smooth blue asters, ohio spiderwort, prairie smoke, little bluestem, side oats, prairie dropseed, downy sunflower, and Liatris spicata. The neighbors complained about the unkempt area for awhile but when it started blooming they were jelly.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 4:59PM
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When I first became interested in natives a decade ago, I thought the only plants "left" in NC natural areas were in the mountains. I have now learned a little about the coastal and sandhill plants in NC, but we have so few prairie remnants. I will love seeing photos from IL and other prairie lands.

I know that some of the prairie plants are now in the trade and used in landscaping, but they are usually planted in more formal spots, so seeing a field or prairie setting is really wonderful.

So glad people are volunteering. I am, unfortunately, aging out of physical work, but I am still interested in our natives.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 9:36AM
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Welcome Shannon! Congrats on your new home. It sounds like a wonderful place to live! I'm more than a bit jealous.
I'd be out chasing butterflies with my camera and exploring every day.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 6:36PM
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greenhaven(SW MI z6)

Hey, thanks for the warm welcomes! We have been SO busy at work and at home, its hard to get back to the forums, sometimes.

Fata, I am originally from Vermont, and we spent a few years in eastern upstate NY when hubs was in the Navy. Was a fantastic state!

Lycopus, your mix sounds fantastic. Steve and I were both new to mountain mint this year, and we are infatuated. We have five acres, and are converting one section ( a little over an acre) to prairie. It is a pretty extensive list, but there will be a lot of little bluestem, mountain mint, grass-leaved goldenrod, side oats grama, June grass, silky asters, Liatris aspera and L. cylindracea...geez, just a lot. Plus whatever blows in from the neighbors. ;o)

ncrescue, it was amazing to me how much richer my area became whn I started recognizing native plants and their ecological value. There is SO much to know! Nachusa has no fewer than seven different ecosystems, and over 700 plant species. It is a LOT to learn!

Christie, I would be out there a lot more on my own time if I weren't so busy with the property. But I do find time to take lots of photos, and do some bird-watching.

This is just one view from our back deck: (looking NW)

Okay, two: (looking SW)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 9:23PM
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Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. Are these photos a.m. or p.m.? Just trying to decide if I "want" this locale for my morning coffee or the late cocktail hour?? LOL.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 8:52AM
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Welcome greenhaven. I'm north of you in the Southern Kettle Moraine of Wisconsin.

I just want to say how lucky you are to live in such a beautiful setting! I am so jealous!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 10:34AM
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lycopus(z5 NY)

That's a nice view you have there. I would recommend adding some silphiums to your mix to attract goldfinches.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 3:54PM
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What a beautiful view! Welcome.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 5:00PM
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What a beautiful view! I think all it needs is some ice tea and maybe some cushions for the chairs. : )

Silphium is one that I started from seed last spring and I haven't gotten to see them bloom yet. I'm hoping the butterflies will like them but goldfinches would be a nice bonus. You probably already have every native I've heard of and then some.

Are you restricted on what you can plant in your yard? Can you plant natives that aren't already in the area?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 5:19PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hello Greenhaven. Wow - what a view! That looks like a fabulous place to walk and explore. So very different looking from our area.

I have grown Silphium perfoliatum from seed, but boy does it get huge and reseed like crazy. The Goldfinches and other small birds enjoy the seeds, and the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails really like the blooms.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 12:33AM
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greenhaven(SW MI z6)

ncrescue, the first photo is definitely taken in the evening, and I am pretty sure the second was a morning shot. There are no bad times of day, here, lol!

Theresa, hi! I hear that area is gorgeous, and if I can ever get a horse sound again I would love to ride up there. maybe we can hook up sometime.

lycopus, we already have finches up the wazoo, and we already have rosinweed growing in our field. But hubby did sneak in some compass plant seeds, even though our soils and location are dry and dry mesic. We are trying to stick with shorter species, but he couldn't control himself with the compass plant, lol! I should make up a complete list of the seeds that will be going down in the next week or so.

esh, thanks for the welcome!

christie, yes, we are restricted somewhat to what we can plant in the yard, basically nothing that is on any invasive species list anywhere...which is completely understood, but difficult for me because I am also a landscaper and deal with ornamentals. TNC was the second owner of this property, and while they owned it they put a conservation easement on it, focused mainly on development but also addressing the planting restrictions. As far as planting natives not in my area, that is a tricky question. We are eager to be good neighbors with TNC, but even they are beginning to plant some species that are "new" to Nachusa. So I guess it will depend on the species and how urgently I feel the need to have it. ;o) They feel VERY strongly about our using seed with local genotypes, so we do the best we can to know our seed sources.

The word on the street is that once upon a time there was the endangered Wooly Milkweed on this original property, but the third owners sprayed out the fields for pasture. It will be interesting to see if it actually makes another appearance, given the opportunity.

terrene, yeah, perfoliatum will spread around pretty aggressively. They don't even collect it at Nachusa, because they known it will get itself where it wants to be, lol! I have added several new birds to my life list since living here, and hope to spot some more next Spring.

I feel very fortunate to live here, and am grateful every day. Seriously.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 1:42AM
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greenhaven, you should absolutely come up to the Southern Kettle Moraine to ride. We have 54 miles of bridle trails and even a state park- Horseriders Campground - in Palmyra. I'm not a rider, but I've hike all the trails. The National Scenic Ice Age (hiking) Trail (33 miles of it's total 12.000 miles) also traverses the Southern Kettle Moraine. You can get some nice hiking loops just by hiking the IAT and hiking back on the horse/snowmobile trails. All the trails are well groomed, hilly and beautiful.

The Southern Kettle Moraine also boast the largest wetland prairie east of the Mississippi River - Scuppernong Prairie. It's an awesome site to see and it just simply takes my breath away!

Here is a link that might be useful: Kettle Moraine - Southern Unit

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 8:11AM
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greenhaven(SW MI z6)

Oh, how exciting!!!! Maybe hubs and I should plan to get up there to hike before the weather turns permanently bad. I did not know that about the largest wetland prairie, very cool! I'll bring my camera.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 9:10AM
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