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Old 07-18-2015, 06:00 PM   #1
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Default The best laid plans . . .

I just went out and looked at my "pocket prairie" garden I started five years ago. It is so different than my original plan. Some species have completely disappeared and some are thriving. New ones are seeding in from the surrounding field and some from the garden are doing the same in the field.

I originally planted this garden to experiment with different prairie plants to see what would do well here. I thought I could propagate the successful ones and move them around to the field and other gardens. What a difference five years makes. I also realized what a difference one human can make on their environment. One small mistake could be a disaster in the long run. It's daunting when you think about it. It's made me more responsible than ever and more respectful of the land that I am in trust of for the time we spend here. It makes me think of what someone told me when we first moved here, it was almost the Hippocratic Oath, "first do no harm" watch the land before you do anything. That's not much different than what gardeners say about waiting a year before putting a shovel to the ground on a new property.

I'm happy to say I haven't screwed up (too much) in these five years, all my plants in the pocket prairie are native to our area though not all of local provenance, and the biggest roamers are the cupplants. I'm not sure how I feel about them but they really attract the butterflies and later the goldfinch.

I'll leave you with a portion of this poem by Robert Burns, used by John Steinbeck for his novel "Of Mice and Men" upon destroying a mouse nest in the field by a plow.

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

To a Mouse by Robert Burns : The Poetry Foundation
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Old 07-18-2015, 09:51 PM   #2
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It appears that your pocket prairie took charge, and you're just along for the ride. . .

Even though it has taken a different direction than you intended, it sound like you're happy with it.
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Old 07-18-2015, 10:33 PM   #3
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My cup plant is falling over. I hope mine spreads though. Hopefully if it does it will be in an area where it is supported. A good point linrose. Gardens have a mind of their own. You kind of have to work with what you have.
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Old 07-19-2015, 10:18 AM   #4
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I really enjoyed your post...and the replies.

My cupplant is in its third year (I think--or second since I planted it, perhaps). It is standing tall in basically full sun. The buds are forming now. I did collect a little seed last year to try to spread it along. I've yet to see any volunteers or notice if my meager attempts to spread it took hold. (Now that I think about it, this could only be its second year here. I really should keep records.)

linrose, it seems to me that natives spreading from the field to your bed and your bed to the field would help tie the two together. I'm happy that you seem pleased, in general, with the results.

You do make me think even more and more about local provenance. I'm trying to remember where I bought my cupplant (I'm thinking Bowman's Hill, but I'm not sure). More and more, I'm finding some plants tagged with "local ecotype" (often from a few counties south of me, but that is likely the best I can do--when not collecting the seed myself).

I feel that I will be more flexible with those species which seem more rare or less common, but this spring, I found birdsfoot violet tagged as local ecotype--this nursery has only recently focused on this...and, from talking to the owner, I found out that her supplier for these is my favorite nursery which routinely focuses on plants from local ecoregions and tends to document the source of the plant.

I was thrilled to find the birdsfoot violet--something I've wanted for a while and hope to grow as part of the mosaic that will be our front yard. So far, they seem pleased with where I put them. I bought three at $10.99 a piece, but I spotted one that had a seedling in the pot, so I now have four. One was planted in a different spot just in case I lose them where I put them in full sun. The tiny baby is putting out a third leaf now...and one of the mature ones continues to put out flowers (for about a month now), so I am very pleased. I'm hoping that, like your pocket prairie plants, these seed out where ever they can be happy.
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Old 07-20-2015, 08:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linrose View Post
I just went out and looked at my "pocket prairie" garden I started five years ago. It is so different than my original plan. Some species have completely disappeared and some are thriving. New ones are seeding in from the surrounding field and some from the garden are doing the same in the field.

I originally planted this garden to experiment with different prairie plants to see what would do well here. I thought I could propagate the successful ones and move them around to the field and other gardens. What a difference five years makes. I also realized what a difference one human can make on their environment. One small mistake could be a disaster in the long run. It's daunting when you think about it. It's made me more responsible than ever and more respectful of the land that I am in trust of for the time we spend here. It makes me think of what someone told me when we first moved here, it was almost the Hippocratic Oath, "first do no harm" watch the land before you do anything. That's not much different than what gardeners say about waiting a year before putting a shovel to the ground on a new property.

I'm happy to say I haven't screwed up (too much) in these five years, all my plants in the pocket prairie are native to our area though not all of local provenance, and the biggest roamers are the cupplants. I'm not sure how I feel about them but they really attract the butterflies and later the goldfinch.

I'll leave you with a portion of this poem by Robert Burns, used by John Steinbeck for his novel "Of Mice and Men" upon destroying a mouse nest in the field by a plow.

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

To a Mouse by Robert Burns : The Poetry Foundation
Interesting...

You've solved the riddle of my moving cup plant, Linrose. THe one I planted about five years ago has never dominated as I hoped it would, and it always has few flowers. Nevertheless, this year I noticed I now have two cup plants. I found it a mystery that a plant (not getting enough sun) doing so poorly would be able to multiply like this one has. Perhaps it will "walk" it's way over to a sunnier spot eventually??? The more I observe plants, the more amazed at their abilities to survive I become. Of course, from many perspectives plants are more intelligent than we are, if survival is a measurement of intelligence. It's not hard to imagine the human species extinct with cup plants still blooming in the midsummer sun...
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Old 07-20-2015, 05:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linrose View Post
I just went out and looked at my "pocket prairie" garden I started five years ago. It is so different than my original plan. Some species have completely disappeared and some are thriving. New ones are seeding in from the surrounding field and some from the garden are doing the same in the field.

I originally planted this garden to experiment with different prairie plants to see what would do well here. I thought I could propagate the successful ones and move them around to the field and other gardens. What a difference five years makes. I also realized what a difference one human can make on their environment. One small mistake could be a disaster in the long run. It's daunting when you think about it. It's made me more responsible than ever and more respectful of the land that I am in trust of for the time we spend here. It makes me think of what someone told me when we first moved here, it was almost the Hippocratic Oath, "first do no harm" watch the land before you do anything. That's not much different than what gardeners say about waiting a year before putting a shovel to the ground on a new property.

I'm happy to say I haven't screwed up (too much) in these five years, all my plants in the pocket prairie are native to our area though not all of local provenance, and the biggest roamers are the cupplants. I'm not sure how I feel about them but they really attract the butterflies and later the goldfinch.
My experience has been similar, Linrose. I started with some plants gifted from a native gardening friend of mine and a tray or two ordered from Prairie Moon. Not very many of local provenance. Here, too, the cup plant is roaming at will. I can no longer find many of the original plants - they seem to have given up the will to compete with Monarda, Helianthus and Canada and Showy Goldenrods. I have no field nearby to provide seeds as I am surrounded by Chemlawn neighbors.

In spite of my original plan running amock, the little pocket prairie is attractive to me. Better than that, we see more birds, butterflies, dragon flies and bees than we ever did before. It's been a learning experience for me as it has for you.

I am starting to actively search for other gardeners that I can share some of my "overstock" with. I'm hoping that if I thin things out a bit, I can add back in some of the grasses and smaller plants that have been lost and maybe maintain a bit of control over the others.

One thing is certain....I would never willingly go back to turf grass. It's so DULL!!!
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Old 07-20-2015, 05:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dapjwy View Post
I really enjoyed your post...and the replies.

My cupplant is in its third year (I think--or second since I planted it, perhaps). It is standing tall in basically full sun. The buds are forming now. I did collect a little seed last year to try to spread it along. I've yet to see any volunteers or notice if my meager attempts to spread it took hold. (Now that I think about it, this could only be its second year here. I really should keep records.)

linrose, it seems to me that natives spreading from the field to your bed and your bed to the field would help tie the two together. I'm happy that you seem pleased, in general, with the results.

You do make me think even more and more about local provenance. I'm trying to remember where I bought my cupplant (I'm thinking Bowman's Hill, but I'm not sure). More and more, I'm finding some plants tagged with "local ecotype" (often from a few counties south of me, but that is likely the best I can do--when not collecting the seed myself).

I feel that I will be more flexible with those species which seem more rare or less common, but this spring, I found birdsfoot violet tagged as local ecotype--this nursery has only recently focused on this...and, from talking to the owner, I found out that her supplier for these is my favorite nursery which routinely focuses on plants from local ecoregions and tends to document the source of the plant.

I was thrilled to find the birdsfoot violet--something I've wanted for a while and hope to grow as part of the mosaic that will be our front yard. So far, they seem pleased with where I put them. I bought three at $10.99 a piece, but I spotted one that had a seedling in the pot, so I now have four. One was planted in a different spot just in case I lose them where I put them in full sun. The tiny baby is putting out a third leaf now...and one of the mature ones continues to put out flowers (for about a month now), so I am very pleased. I'm hoping that, like your pocket prairie plants, these seed out where ever they can be happy.
I, too, am trying to pay more attention to local provenance. It's not easy here, though. Not too many local native plant growers! There are a couple of plant sales every year that I try to visit.

If I were 15 years younger, I would be really tempted to get into growing myself so I could supply local gardeners with locally grown natives. But....I'm too old to work that hard now!
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Old 07-20-2015, 05:56 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jack View Post
Interesting...

You've solved the riddle of my moving cup plant, Linrose. THe one I planted about five years ago has never dominated as I hoped it would, and it always has few flowers. Nevertheless, this year I noticed I now have two cup plants. I found it a mystery that a plant (not getting enough sun) doing so poorly would be able to multiply like this one has. Perhaps it will "walk" it's way over to a sunnier spot eventually??? The more I observe plants, the more amazed at their abilities to survive I become. Of course, from many perspectives plants are more intelligent than we are, if survival is a measurement of intelligence. It's not hard to imagine the human species extinct with cup plants still blooming in the midsummer sun...
Jack, my raspberry bushes did just that! I had them planted along out property line. When a new neighbor moved in a dozen years ago or so, they put up a wooden privacy fence, thereby shading the raspberry bushes. Those darned things gradually (pretty quickly, actually) "walked" their way over to the side of the garage where they get plenty of sun. I now have a healthy patch of raspberry bushes in an area where I never planted a single one...and none in the area where they started out.
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Old 07-20-2015, 10:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katjh View Post
I, too, am trying to pay more attention to local provenance. It's not easy here, though. Not too many local native plant growers! There are a couple of plant sales every year that I try to visit.

If I were 15 years younger, I would be really tempted to get into growing myself so I could supply local gardeners with locally grown natives. But....I'm too old to work that hard now!
I've thought about becoming a supplier for local (within 2 hours or so of us) native plant nurseries. Who knows if I ever will--and, I'm betting that I don't know just how much work is involved!

By the way, I don't think you are all that much older than me--don't make me feel old before my time. Hey, what happened to the "young at heart" comment?
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Old 07-20-2015, 10:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by katjh View Post
...I have no field nearby to provide seeds as I am surrounded by Chemlawn neighbors.

In spite of my original plan running amock, the little pocket prairie is attractive to me. Better than that, we see more birds, butterflies, dragon flies and bees than we ever did before.
I love that you are offering an oasis in the dessert of Chemlawn yards around you.

You are obviously having an impact as you are noticing all of those wonderful visitors to your yard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katjh View Post
I am starting to actively search for other gardeners that I can share some of my "overstock" with. I'm hoping that if I thin things out a bit, I can add back in some of the grasses and smaller plants that have been lost and maybe maintain a bit of control over the others.
Great. Here's hoping you pass it on and each of these gardeners will see the positive impact it makes and continue to pay it forward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katjh View Post
One thing is certain....I would never willingly go back to turf grass. It's so DULL!!!
I *love* that you added that!

Great reply.
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