Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday-Kansas Natives

Cindy and I attended a Cowley County Native Plant tour in late June of this year. The tour took place on the 9000 acre Snyder Ranch, a tall grass prairie maintained for forage and foliage in the Flint Hills area of south-central to eastern Kansas.
According to our tour guide, this ranch is one of the only undisturbed tall grass prairies in the world. I think the word tall grass is what makes it unique. He compared it to the Amazon as a one of a kind place. Pretty strong comparisons. The owners have had the ranch passed on through generations. Native legumes are left to fix nitrogen for the grasses and native plants are left accordingly. The only herbicides applied are spot treated to eradicate some noxious forms of Lespedeza. The ranch land is only grazed from May to July 1, and never overgrazed. Controlled burning occurs every 3rd year, and less often during droughts.
 The area consists of rolling hills with stone outcrops of limestone and flint. The soil is very shallow and mixed with rock, therefore very difficult to cultivate. Most upland trees are some type of white oak. Shrubs include sumac, wild plum, and some baptisa.
Psoralidium tenuiflorum-Wild Alfafa is very prevalent on these ranchlands- a legume.
 Achillea millefolium-Western yarrow interspersed with bluestem and wild alfalfa.
Ratibida columnifera- Prairie Coneflower early
Echinacea angustifolia- Black Sampson coneflower
Amorpha canescens - Leadplant
Dalea purpurea-Purple Prairie Clover
Mimosa quadrivalvis  L.  var. nuttallii - Catclaw Sensitive Briar
Asclepias tuberosa-Butterfly Weed with Quercus
Bouquet made from native plant blooms given to my wife as a prize drawing.

Think Native! Go visit Gail @ Clay and Limestone to visit others in the world growing with Natives.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Few Butterflies

The garden blogosphere has been a buzz with comments about the butterfly population this year. In my area of south central Kansas the population of large butterflies has been very rare. Specifically Swallowtails and Monarchs. We can speculate all we want and come up with wild or logical explanations but the truth is we will probably never completely understand. I will take things  as they are and be glad for the ones I do get to view and photograph, and hope for a better population come fall! The following photos were taken over the last 3 to 4 weeks here in Kansas. Enjoy.
Papilionidae-Tiger Swallowtail
What are your numbers where you are?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-July Heat

It's that time of the month again. Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, where gardeners from all over the world share what's blooming in their garden. Go to May Dream Gardens, and join Gail and links to gardens sharing their treasures! 
While your here, enjoy my Hot July Garden Photos.

Alcea rosea 'Summer Carnival'
First year in the cottage gardens for Hollyhocks. Planted these from seed this winter in jiffy pots under lights. Always like the hocks in my grandmothers and mothers garden. I respect their height and large leaf texture contrast. The Summer Carnival variety pictured above is a frilled double bloom variety I purchased at a big box last winter. Along with the pink variety, a few old fashioned single bloom yellow varieties came along for the ride.
I prefer the single bloom. How about you?
Street Entry Garden-Gladiolus, Achillea Terra Cotta, Echinacea purpurea, and Salvia farinacea.
Hell Strip 2

Gallardia in Hell Strip
Hell Strip 1 and end of Meadow Garden
Meadow Garden fillers, Little Bluestem, Prairie Splendor Coneflower and annual fanflower.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In Conclusion: Xeriscape Demo Garden Part Three

 This is the third and final part of our visit to the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden in Colorado Springs. In review and to keep things short this post will be primarily photos. 
The Seven Principles of Xeriscape : 1. Plan and Design  2. Soil Amendment  3. Efficient Irrigation 4. Appropriate plant and zone selection 5. Mulch  6. Alternative turf  7. Maintenance.

In Greek Xeri means dry or dry enviroment; Xeric means relating or adapted to an extremely dry habitat. Succulents such as cacti, aloes, and agaves are xeric plants.

Reviewing the many comments I've received there seems to be a little confusion on what xeriscape means to each reader. I believe we all use many of the same principles in our "non" xeriscape gardens. So I am going out on a limb and choose principle #4 : appropriate plant and zone selection as being the best definition of Xeriscape. By planting plants with the same light/irrigation zone needs, we create an area that is more efficient in water use. For example, if we plant a high water use plant like the Ajuga with a low water use plant like Yucca in the same bed we have to irrigate the bed heavily to keep the ajuga alive and thus over watering the yucca excessively. Thus using more water than necessary. I hope this explains the principle better.
Xeriscape Rock Garden
Solar Powered Water Garden
Sorry the focus is off.
No to Low Water Zone/Full Sun
No/Low Water Zone/Full Sun-Alternative Lawn Zone-Buffalo/Blue Grama Grass
Yucca and Penstemon
Low Water Zone
Had to add a photo of a project I completed when I lived in the Springs in 2002. Xeriscape principles were used and many existing plants were left such as Pinyon Pine and Juniper. Initially there were only rotted railroad ties and noxious weeds and no rock. Needless to say we moved a few tons of boulders.
My son and I say adios.