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Meadow Project

Posted by misssherry Z8/9MS (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 30, 10 at 23:33

We've been having trouble with our septic tank system for the past few years, so we got it completely reworked recently. The workmen created a new drain field along the same basic route as the original one, but further east, so they're sort of parallel, with only with a young laurel oak I planted between them. The original drain field stayed wet a lot, so I planted irises, false nettles and a button bush - all thrived under those conditions. The new field is better, so, hopefully, will stay dry. Now if it doesn't rain enough, I'll have to water the irises, buttonbush and false nettles! :0
Anyway, when they made the new field, they had to bull doze the bushes, dead (Katrina) loblolly pine trees and weeds that were there - I picked this spot, because there wasn't much to lose there. We hired a young man with a strong back to saw the pines into pieces, haul them off, plus the debris. I don't know why the topped off, dead pines hadn't fallen yet. I've been doing more work in the area, mostly pulling out briars. They dug the ditch to put the field lines in, and when they covered them up, they put clay back on top, so we're probably going to have some top soil brought in, and get the same young worker to spread it out over the area, so at least there will be a little decent soil there for things to grow in.
I'm trying to turn a lemon into lemonade by creating a meadow. You can't plant trees in your drain field, but shallow rooted plants are desirable. I've decided that in all likelihood, since they did such a good job of the new drain field, it'll stay dry, or as dry as rainfall will allow. So, I thought I'd transplant a lot of native grasses from the "meadow" up by the main road, plus some that grow here and there in the woods. I'm studying grasses, and I think the roadside grasses are mostly types of panic grass, fescue, soft rush, and a cute little foxtail grass that grows RIGHT by the side of the main road - I've read it's not native, but it doesn't appear to be invasive.
There is a pretty grass/Carex glaucescens that grows here and there in open areas of the woods that makes cute little seed spikes that various critters are supposed to eat, but I can't find any seed or plants for sale. I'm going to try and gather seeds this fall from plants in my woods, plus I might transplant at least one plant - it would likely drop plenty of seeds and propagate itself.
I'd also like to plant some Saccarum giganteum/Erianthus giganteus/plumegrass, because it's pretty, and a type of cane, so I think it would probably host lace-winged roadside skippers. I got a visit from one last year or year before, and I thought it was a cutie!
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
There is a pretty grass called oatgrass/Chasmanthium latifolium that I could plant in the shady section of the drain field. I don't think I've ever seen it growing here, but it's supposed to be native and like shade, so it'd probably do good in the shady area.
I would also plant good meadow plants for this area, like our native black-eyed susans, which I'd probably have to dig up from a roadside somewhere (I've successfully done this before), some swamp sunflowers/Helianthus angustifolius, the blue lobelia that thrives on roadsides here (haven't yet identified it), wild petunia, partridge pea, etc.
After the grasses are established, I can gather agalinis seeds in fall and sow them among the grasses, giving the buckeyes their favorite host plant.
And there are numerous other meadow plants that I could use as I think of them.
Here is a picture of the sunny part of my new drain field - you can't see the shady part, which is behind and to the right of me. The old drain field is to the right of the sunny part of the new one - you can see my buttonbush and a patch of false nettles. The woods are to the left and in the distance, and the house (unseen) is to the right -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I'm really enjoying learning about the native grasses, never having planted them.
If anybody has any suggestions, please feel free to offer them!
Sherry


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Meadow Project

Beware of the oat grass, Chasmanthium latifolium aka Northern Sea Oats - it is very invasive as it reseeds aggressively. I planted one plant years ago and now it is everywhere in my backyard and getting worse by the second. It is very difficult to pull it up even as a small plant.

Another grass you might be interested in is Tridens flavus, or Purpletop, a native grass to Mississippi and many other states. It is very good natured, and is also a host plant for the Common Wood Nymph butterfly (gorgeous). It is also well suited for a meadow garden. The CWN is found in Mississippi as well.

Sounds like a marvelous endeavor for you, MissSherry!

Susan

Here is a link that might be useful: Common Wood Nymph


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RE: Meadow Project

Thanks much for the info about C. latifolia, Susan!
I had been considered the Tridens flavus, now I'll definitely plant it. I'd sure love to have common wood nymphs!
Sherry


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RE: Meadow Project

Sherry,

How about considering some native tall verbena in the sunny area? The plants footprint is small, it reseeds itself and the pretty dainty blooms appear on tall single stalks that would wave above the grasses. I've read the butterflies really enjoy nectaring on these blooms. I'm growing it for the first time this year so only have the experience written by others to go by. I'm really anxious to watch this plant this year to see how the butterflies react to it.

Mary


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RE: Meadow Project

Lots of possibilities! Can't wait to see how it will turn out!


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RE: Meadow Project

That's a good idea about the tall verbena, Mary - I see it growing roadside with grasses, and it fits right in.
I'll include it.
Sherry


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RE: Meadow Project

You're gonna really enjoy this area!

I can highly recommend the Purpletop. And you'll need Little Bluestem, (Schizachyrium scoparium).
They (and others) will certainly volunteer, but I realize we/you want to expedite the process.

Of course you must have Liatrius.
Do you have a nearby wild source of these seeds??
If not, I can send you more than enough in the fall.
They're easily grown by just broadcasting the seed.

I have planted only a few things my wild field/meadow,
let MN do most of the work.
Have planted a few
Coralbean (Erythrina herbacea)
Passion Vine - incarnata--(Passiflora lutea has voluntered!
False White Indigo (Baptisia Alba)
they die back in the fall/winter and can be burned/mowed
Adds interest and requires no maintence! My kinda "garden"


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RE: Meadow Project

Ron, what type of liatris seeds do you have?
L. squarrosa grows in the meadow-like area up by the main road, but the plants and flower stalks are both short and unimpressive, and I rarely ever see any butterflies nectaring on it
There is a tall liatris that grows on the road that intersects with mine that has LONG spikes of flowers and small, thin leaves, and you nearly always see at least one butterfly on each plant. These liatris plants aren't as common as L. squarrosa, but they're certainly much more beautiful and impressive. I'm not sure which type it is, though. My MS wildflower book lists/shows pictures of L. squarrosa, L. aspera, and L. elegans. The big liatris here might be aspera, but I really think it's L. pycnostachya, which is shown in my LA wildflower book by Clair Brown - the book says it also grows in Mississippi. Would your seeds be this type?
I'm going to watch for blooming liatris later on and try to get some local seeds, but if I can't, and if you have some other than L. squarrosa, I'd love to have some!
Sherry


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RE: Meadow Project

Sherry,

Indian Grass is another beautiful grass. Is it native in your area? It is here in Oklahoma.

Also you could plant some of the Common Milkweed, Tuberosa, or Viridis, if they are native to your area. What about Royal Catchfly? And you'll need some of the native coneflowers! Wow! All sorts of possibilities. . . Prairiemoon Catalog, here I come!


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RE: Meadow Project

I second what has been said so far. I work with a native restoration group. I can't say what is native to your area but little blue stem is beautiful, indian grass, bottlebrush grass, and my favorite prairie dropseed. Favorites of skippers too! If you can find sand dropseed that is nice and bigger than prairie dropseed. How about bush clover and baptisia for skippers. Golden Alexander is in bloom here now in the prairies and it is really pretty and hosts the Black Swallowtails.

Hope everything is okay where you are. I heard they have LA in a state of emergency due to the oil spill. They told people to stay indoors due to the burning oil and fumes. Sigh..

-Elisabeth


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RE: Meadow Project

I'd suggest looking at the Liatris ligulistylis. I planted some in my garden even though it's not native here. It is, however, found in Missouri. The USDA map shows a strange distribution. It is supposed to be irrestible to Monarchs. High Country Gardens carries it. Haven't checked to see where else you can get it. Finches love the seeds.

Sandy


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RE: Meadow Project

Sherry,

I second Sandy's suggestion regarding Liatris ligulistylis aka Meadow Blazing Star. I don't know if it's 'native' to Arkansas but I've found it growing wild here along the roadsides. I wouldn't be without it in my garden now as the Butterflies flock to it. It provides seeds in the fall/winter for the birds and it is hardy, with beautiful mid/late summer blooms that last a long time (plus it comes back each spring, bigger and better than the year before. Gotta have some in your meadow, Miss Sherry! :-)

Here's a photo of a close up bloom taken in my garden in 2005:

Here's a photo, also taken in my garden in 2005, of the bloom stalks before they open:

Mary


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RE: Meadow Project

That's irresistible! Left out part of the word. Mary, does it come back thicker each year? I'm wondering how many I should plant to get a nice little stand. Love your pictures!

Sandy


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RE: Meadow Project

Oh my, those pictures are beautiful, Mary!
I will add L. ligulistylis for sure. I looked it up, and it looks similar to the unidentified, tall liatris that grows near me - since several of you have recommended it, it must be a good one. I'll also try to get seeds from the local tall liatris.
I've been looking up grasses until I'm sick of looking at them, but I think I've figured out that Mary Ann King has the best and biggest selection of grasses of any of the mail-order nurseries I order from - she owns Pine Ridge Gardens. I'm pretty sure I'll order these grasses -

Muhlenbergia capillars 'Pink Muhly'
Panicum virgatum 'Cloud Nine'
" " 'Heavy Metal'
" " 'Shenandoah'
Sorgastrum nutans
Tridens flavus - I want several of these for the shady area - I'd love to get some common wood nymphs

I can't find a source for sugarcane plumegrass, so I'll have to keep looking - I may e-mail Mary Ann and ask her if she's got it, just hasn't listed it.
I've looked at MANY pictures of sedges, and none look as cute to me as the one that grows here, Carex glaucescens/Southern waxy sedge. The little seed heads look like little bitty pine cones.

I may skip the fox tail grass, since it's not native. The disastrous spread of non-native cogon grass is good reason to beware of the non-natives.

I've planted the native Ruellia caroliniana and Vernonia angustifolia in my garden. Hopefully, I'll be able to get seeds and/or cuttings from them to add to the meadow. I may be eventually able to do the same with Delphinium carolinianum, I'll see. And, of course, the native black-eyed susans and swamp sunflowers are a must. Plus agalinis after the grasses have established.

I'll add tall verbena, even though it's not native, because it grows roadside here with no invasiveness.

Sandy, for the most part, the milkweeds that monarchs like won't grow here. We have plenty of A. longifolia, I think it is, a pretty little MW with skinny tough leaves that the monarchs don't even nectar on. We also have some A. lanceolata, but I've never found a cat on it. If I didn't plant A. curassavica and honeyvine, I don't think I'd ever have monarchs. A. tuberosa grows beautifully in north MS, but not down here - it dies a slow death here.

My head is spinning from all these choices, and I'm sure I'll (and you'll) think of more later, so I think I'll go take a hot bath!
But if you get any more good ideas, let me know! :)

Sherry


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RE: Meadow Project

Regarding which species I have....I'm not sure, it's not from lack of trying tho...
lets call em branched, and Mmmm... unbranched!

Seems like L. squarrosa, L. aspera are smaller and branched
and your least favorite, as in this photo.
branched

Now the one that I can send, and the one you seem to favor is unbranched, a tall single spike 3-5 feet. They do tend to lean/lay over in good soil with ample moisture.
So if you don't find what you want locally, I'll send ya a sack full.
unbranched


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RE: Meadow Project

Ron, that last picture with the black female tiger swallowtail is it! Or if it isn't it, it sure looks exactly like it, it's even got the right type butterfly - tigers are especially fond of it.
Do you have seeds you saved from last year? I'd love for you to send me some, since I'm not even sure how to extract seed.
L. pycnostachya is known as cattail gayfeather, an appropriate description - tall!
Sherry


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RE: Meadow Project P.S.

I've been looking up L. pycnostachya on the internet, and it's mainly a plant of the Midwest, also known as prairie blazing star, which didn't make sense, since I also read that it grows in marshy areas in the Southeast. The information on Lazy S'S Farm says that the marsh plants are new each year - the roots supposedly rot over the winter, but it makes many seeds, many of which come up the next spring.
I also read that it's the tallest liatris. Tall thin plants are known to flop over, but the pictures I've seen of it in swamps show it standing straight up, so it apparently adjusts well to wet conditions.
Interesting!
Sherry


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RE: Meadow Project

Yep, lots of info that doesn't always add up.
These grow on high,"dry" ground. The only moisture they get is from the sky. Sandy clay underneath.
Unfortunately, I do not have any seed now. Not until the fall.
From what I have read, as with many wildflowers, these seeds/plants spend the first winter putting down roots and the first year is simply a rosette. But I have scattered seed in areas (in fall) where non existed (or did some blow in year before??) and it seemed there were plants the next summer - no rosettes, but I could easily be mistaken. (Bouncing around, doing cleanup, numerous small/medium burn pockets from Kartina's mess)
Seed is easily and quickly gathered by simply grasping the stalk and drawing it through the hand, comes off by the handful! Light, wind-blown seed. No scarification needed.


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RE: Meadow Project

Sandy,

We no longer live where the photos were taken and here I only have four plants currently growing (ordered small plants last summer). They multiply each year from corms or of course, seed. As the corm grows larger, it produces more eyes, which become the flower stalks. So, yes, they do multiply in number of flower stalks each year (and maybe baby corns develope off of the mother corm?). I've ordered another 10 plants, which should give me a nice grouping and as they mature and need thinning, I can share with other butterfly gardeners. I planted them about 10 inches apart in the small group I currently have. I've read it can take two to three years to get blooms from seedlings but they do produce a lot of seed. If you could get a plant or two to try, then do plantings of seeds in the fall, you'd have a nice grouping in no time. The seed needs a period of cold stratification before they will germinate. A good seed to Winter Sow.

Early this spring, I came across a package of 15 Liatris spicata corms in a dollar store, of all places; purchased and planted them in another grouping. Fourteen came up and now I'm anxious to see how the butterflies and hummingbirds take to this variety of Liatris.

My gardens are small and new and this area is new to me so I'm trying lots of different plants to see what will do well and interest the butterflies and little birds. If they don't produce good results, out they go.

Sherry is so lucky to have such a nice large area to work with and no doubt, the butterflies and birds will appreciate her efforts.

Mary


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RE: Meadow Project

Mary,

I have a source where I can get a flat of the liguistylis, so I think I'm going to go ahead and order them. I think they'll sell at our backyard habitat tour. Mary Ann King will be here to sell also.

Last year she came to see me as someone told her she needed to see my gardens! They must pale in comparision to what she has! I wanted to go over there this year, but didn't get to make it. I want a dwarf Hackberry tree which she is about the only place that carries them. She is quite a character. Older than me, but really cute in her short-shorts!!

Sandy


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RE: Meadow Project

Good for you MissSherry! Love it!
I know nothing about what will grow there but happy to see it!
I'm also excited as I have committed to a similar undertaking here in SWFl. We have a vacant lot downtown, in a run-down area. Basically, every year we wait for code enforcement threats before we must hire someone to mow the weeds (usually not till June or so when the rain really comes and weeds are tall). The last year or two I've been thinking about doing something with it. Limited resources and no place to store tools, no running water, etc.
Last year I did a couple of drive-bys and threw some gallardia/blanketflower seeds (and a few others) around. By the time a couple were coming up, the mower arrived.

This year I am making an effort to manually fight back the weeds (the bad ones) while the blanket flowers (good weeds) that are now coming up and starting to bloom here and there get established. Have also thrown around some tropical sage, tropical milkweed, coreopsis, and a few other random seeds. And there is already frogfruit, cudweed, pepperweed, and corkystem passionvine growing there. Oh! And planted a beach sunflower, helianthus debilis, which are lovely and cover lots of ground. Have a few more of these potted up but waiting for some rainy weather to plant them over there.
Also put up some little "wildflower habitat" signs, to hopefully make the code enforcement guy think twice about calling about needing to mow, since only a few flowers are obvious yet.
Well, this is becoming a ramble. I guess what I am getting at is I have the same question but for Southwest Florida meadow plants, growing in sand with little need for water.
(Also a local horticulturalist mentioned that they cannot force mowing in a wildflower area.) This would be two birds one stone, in that it would be beautiful and would not have to hire mowers! Anyhow, if anyone would like to add suggestions for my area, I'd love it!
Thanks.
Kelly


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RE: Meadow Project

Kelly, I don't know much about what grows in your area, so I'd suggest you pay close attention to which roadside flowers you see butterflies nectaring on, ID those flowers, and investigate getting seeds or plants for them.
There is a great Florida native plants nursery just to the east of Sarasota, which wouldn't be too far from you. I go to it just about every time I visit my daughter in Tampa. They carry some great native plants, including grasses, for reasonable prices.
I like Liatris chapmanii, it grows in Florida, and you can order it from Mail Order Natives in Lee, Florida, same with ironweed/Vernonia angustifolia - both these plants like it dry.
Sherry

Here is a link that might be useful: Florida Native Plants


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RE: Meadow Project

Yes I have been noting what is growing wild around here. And have "rescued" some coreopsis, blanketflower, and beach sunflower from wild areas where the mower comes thru occasionally. But had not thought about grasses.

A number of the blanketflower seeds from last year have come up in our "meadow" and quite a few are blooming already. I think they are one where they take awhile from sprouting to getting established, then kind of explode and flower suddenly.
Good luck with yours, I love it!
kelly


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RE: Meadow Project

I love blanketflower, Kelly - it grows wild in beach sand at Gulfport and Biloxi, and seems to grow better there than here. Florida is known for its sand, so I guess that's why they're working out in your meadow.

I mailed my order to Mary Ann at Pine Ridge Gardens, and the seeds that I ordered from Native American Seed in Texas came the other day - the seeds are Liatris pycnostachya, Cassia fasciculata/Partridege pea, Salvia Azurea/Pitcher Sage, Ipomopsis rubra/Standing cypress, Penstemon tenuis/Gulf Coast penstemon, and Tridens flavus/Purple top grass. All are native here.
The plants I've ordered are Panicum virgatum 'Cloud Nine'/panic grass, P. virgatum 'Red Sunset', several Tridens flavus/purple top grasses, and two Liatris pycnostachya, all native.
I'll soon be starting the seeds, and I'll plant the plants as soon as we get the top soil and spread it.
I've got some swamp sunflowers and native delphiniums that came from Bustani's that I'm planting in my garden that I hope will yield seeds that I can then use to grow plants for the meadow - I hope to be able to do the same thing with the Monarda punctata that's coming from Mostly Texas Natives and some red stem sunflowers that grow up front. Plus the agalinis should make seeds that I can use.

What usually happens when I plant things in an uncontrolled place - as opposed to, say, a raised bed in my garden - whatever wants to come up, comes up and dominates what I've planted. Still, the additional plants may very well take and enhance my meadow.
Fun, fun, fun!
Sherry


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RE: Meadow Project

So how's it going, MissSherry?
Mine has a few little blanketflower blooms, but we've had NO rain at all, so I have not planted any of the blanketflower or beach sunflowers that I've potted up to take over there. It's frustrating, the rain keeps passing sooo close, but keeps missing us! Keep seeing it on the radar and so wish I could point and click and drag the rain over!!
kelly


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RE: Meadow Project

Yes, indeed, I'd love to be able to point and click the computer to guide rain where I want it to go, Kelly!
The rabbits have already chewed on the grasses and the swamp sunflowers - the only thing blooming is the clump of stokes asters I dug up from my garden and planted in the meadow.
I won't be working on it much for a while - it's too hot!
A volunteer Passiflora incarnata/maypop came up in the meadow, so that's good, speaking of which, I still haven't gotten a visit from a gulf frit or a variegated frit - the vines are getting huge!
Sherry


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RE: Meadow Project

Oh well mother nature will bring rain soon, I hope. And you are right this heat is WAY too much for working out there. If we get some rainy days I'll be happy to go out and do some planting in the rain. No gulf frits? They are swarming here. Love it!


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RE: Meadow Project

I live in Central Va and would love to find a source for plants native to my area that would draw in the butterflies.

I have the space for this type of project. I had some milkweed growing down near the road and the Dept. of Transportation mowers mowed it down. I was so angry.

If there is anyone in my area, I would love some suggestions of what to plant and where to get it.

Thanks,
Betty


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RE: Meadow Project

  • Posted by mere 10 SW FL (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 20, 10 at 2:59

Hello Fighting8r and all,

I am located about 40 minutes north of you off I75 and I am considering two projects. One is to focus on skippers, and the other is to consider a meadow on part of our spare lot. Here is a resource I found--if you do a web search incorporating "butterfly host South Florida Sandy Koi 2008" you will find a link to a chart which gives you the habitat, the plant species, and the butterflies connected. For grasses, she mentions Fakahatchee, Giant Cutgrass, Lopsided Indian Grass, and St. Augustine. She also specifies the types of Skipper that use each grass.

As mentioned elsewhere on this thread, there is a native nursery in the southern part of Sarasota, but there is also a smaller one in Ft. Myers on Center Road. They have a nice collection of grasses.

Having puttered in butterfly gardening for a couple of years now, I am realizing that many of the "weeds" seem to be the best butterfly plants. Fogfruit and Spanish Needles are loved by so many that they have become two of my favorites in my garden! There are so many more "weedy" native plants that are loved and used--peppergrass, desdemodium, sida acuta, and partridge pea to name a few.

Gardening for all creatures is a fabulous activity, isn't it? Best luck to everyone venturing into the meadow!
Meredith


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RE: Meadow Project

I've been to the native nursery in Sarasota, Meredith, at least if you're talking about the one off ?Myakka? Road.
It's great, with lots of good Florida natives.
Some type of native grass has sprung up all over my "meadow" - don't know which type - I've got a book with a good many color pictures of native grasses, and I still can't ID it. Of the grasses I planted, the Panicum virgatum 'Cloud Nine' is doing by far the best, and is thus far my favorite - it's already real tall, with pretty blue green leaves. The swamp sunflowers look like they'll bloom this fall - the stoke's asters already have.
I'm leaving the spent flowers on my purple coneflower that Mary Ann at Pine Ridge Gardens sent me as a freebie, the one with the narrower than normal leaves, earlier blooming and more of a "hot pink" color than the regular type - the petals fall off the regulars, so they look ugly and don't attract butterflies like the unusual ones that Mary Ann received from some plants in Louisiana roadside. I'll be saving seeds from other plants in my garden that I'd like to grow in the meadow, like ironweed.
Speaking of coneflowers, one of my regulars has sprouted "flowerlettes?" from the main flowers. I didn't buy any coneflower oddities, so I don't know how I wound up with this one, unless it's a natural mutation or something. I'll get a picture and post it as soon as the flowers and flowerlettes get color.
Sherry


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RE: Meadow Project

So, how is your project going?


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RE: Meadow Project

It's not going like I'd like it to. In years past, I've mowed certain parts of it, so the smartweed and dandelions wouldn't take over. This year I haven't mowed it at all, and there are dandelions and camphor weed 8' tall! And they got that tall during a dry spring and early summer. Now that it's raining every day, they may soon be small trees! The only butterflies nectaring on the dandelions are checkered skippers. I tried to get their picture, but they moved off too quickly.
There's one goatweed that came up from seed I planted last year that's now starting to bloom. I plan on gathering additional seeds from roadside goatweeds to plant, because I'd like to have plenty to raise leafwings on. The 'meadow' is mostly dry, so they should do. There's a liatris that came up there, I think L. pycnostachya, that's got buds on it, should be blooming soon. There's a plant that looks to be a type of St. John's wort or St. Peter's wort, but the leaves are paler, and the flowers are very tiny. I'm trying to figure out what it is.
The false nettles are spreading more and more, and I saw a red admiral flitting around them, so maybe I'll get some rare summer RA cats. The buttonbush made its big blooms earlier this year, but the rains have brought on a few additional flowers. There were a pair of tiger swallowtails nectaring intently on them -

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Sherry


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RE: Meadow Project

I'm still waiting to see a tiger use my buttonbush flowers. The only tiger I've even seen flying around this year is a dark form female.

My later RA cats don't fold leaves so I'm not sure that they are that rare. You just have to look harder for them.

My meadow project is going nowhere this year, so far. All the plants I bought for it are still in their pots. I just have not had the time to work the ground and plant.


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