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.

26 comments:

  1. How great is that. If only more people would leave it to nature. It knows what to do. Beautiful selection of flowers and a bouquet to match any florist's.

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  2. What a lovely selection and a lovely bouquet aswell. I love seeing how nature does it best with native wildflower plantings.

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  3. Beautiful photographs, and I loved seeing an example of the "real" prairie and its natives, the inspiration for so-called Prairie Planting we are all so familiar with now.

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  4. Greggo, What a lovely post and how wonderful to actually see a tall grass prairie. My favorite flowers of those you've shown are Amorpha canescens and Purple Prairie Clover. I love prairies! gail

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  5. Ah, it makes my heart so happy to know that there are still places like this to be found in the world! Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos too!

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  6. What a beautiful bouquet! Very interesting. What a big responsibility they have, and a blessing, too. I bet it was breathtaking in person.

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  7. What a wonderful tour, thanks for sharing it with us. You took some gorgeous photos too! :)

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  8. Your post sang to me tonight as a KSU ag school grad. It's great a family can pass down a special place like this for generations. The individual shots were masterful as always. But the bouquet stole the show. Who would imagine such a diversity of blooms from a tall grass prairie in late June?

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  9. 9,000 acres??!! What a magnificent sight this must be. We have some areas in Illinois where the original tall grass prairie has been restored, but nothing of this size. How wonderful that this family has been able to continue the legacy of the land. Thanks for sharing all these beautiful images!

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  10. What a rare, wonderful, and beautiful place, and how fantastic that it's been passed down in the same family! Gorgeous wildflowers, and gorgeous bouquet. I'll take a wildflower bouquet over a bunch of roses any day.

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  11. The bouquet is as pretty as any from the florist. Lucky wife! I am amazed this place exists in that it is one of the few tall grass prairies in the world. That is saying something.

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  12. Oh that little purple Praire Coneflower is adorable...I wish I could grow it here;-) That is a lovely bouquet of natives.

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  13. This post makes me so hopeful that more of the prairie will be saved.
    We sold 6 acres of virgin tallgrass prairie to a conservation group about 10 years ago. It will stay prairie and never be plowed. We had to use the money for college otherwise we would have kept it in the family. I am always amazed at home much of a prairie is not grass, but flowers.
    There are very few photos of the Flint Hills. I'm glad you posted this.
    Nice Prairie Bouquet for your wife.
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston

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  14. Wildflowers are definitely my favourite! Thanks for sharing.

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  15. What a gorgeous ranch! The view is breathtaking. And I love the bouquet of wildflowers...very, very nice!

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  16. Greggo,

    I visited the Tall Grass Prairie in Oklahoma, it was windy and over 100 degrees. Really enjoyed it, most of the plains were at one time tall grass prairies, shame we screwed that up. Your photos really brought me back to my visit there, thanks!

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  17. Hi Greggo,
    Yes, I'd love to help you with some ideas re: tropicals for San Antonio.
    Also, call the San Antonio botanical garden and ask them for some local gardening centers that would have some palms or banana trees in stock.
    Don't forget Loquat trees. They are small and have large tropical leaves. They are quite hardy and even drought tolerant to a point.
    Tomorrow I'll try to cook up a post on palms/bananas for San Antonio. I'm glad you are posting about the SA Botanical Gardens. I've not been in over 10 years & I'm sure it's grown(pardon the pun). It's one of my favorite places besides the Sunken Gardens, La Villita & The River Walk. The Alamo has a surprising number of plants on the grounds as well. David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston

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  18. Wow what a great place! It's beautiful and sounds as if it is still able to be used somewhat... with the grazing and all but is managed correctly. Even the controlled burns seem to be the right thing these days. Great example of a well-managed preserve and big too! 9000 acres is huge and I grew up around some pretty big parcels of land...not that big though!

    P.S. Love the bouquet, I bet your wife was thrilled

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  19. What an awesome place!!! I would love to go on a tour like that. I've been growing dalea in my garden for a few years and it's been a struggle to figure out exactly what it wants while also dealing with expanding tree canopies. I'm so glad wild places like that still exist. :o)

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  20. What a unique ecosystem. I had tried to arrange an extra day when we passed through Kansas two years ago, so that we could visit a tall grass prairie. I was eyeing one owned by the Nature Conservancy. When I told my wife and son what I wanted to do, I was loudly denounced. They wanted to get to Colorado the fastest route possible. Driving through the Flint Hills, I began to regret caving in without more of a fight.

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  21. What a great post! I'm pleased to hear of the preservation of this land, and especially glad you guys got the awesome bouquet.

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  22. Hi Greg,
    I enjoyed seeing the native plants right there in their natural home. How cool that you got to be there to see the tall grass prairie! That bouquet was a nice prize.

    You thought my liatris might be spicata. That is one of the kinds I know I have planted.

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  23. This is the place where I want to lie, write, raise a family, and die. Hands down. I was thinnking of making a trip through the Flint Hills in a few weeks--any tips for scenic byways if I go?

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  24. That's so amazing...and I'm so jealous! Love it...maybe I'll get to visit someday as a reward for visiting relatives ;-)

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  25. What fantastic images you've captured at a gorgeous site! The bouquet is beautiful--wow.

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Thanks for leaving any comments, they are always welcomed. Sorry I had to add word verification as spam was becoming a huge problem. Greggo,