Thursday, January 19, 2012

Prairie Inspiration - The Results

My last post covered written prairie inspiration. For this post, I thought I would share some of my favorite photos from 2011...the results of my prairie inspiration. 

Notice there are no photos from mid-June through mid-September. This was the time that summer heat and drought reigned and the prairie went to sleep. But, oh boy, did it wake up in late September after the heat wave broke and a little rain fell from the sky.

01-09-11

02-05-11

 04-13-11

06-01-11

06-10-11

06-11-11

09-04-11

09-25-11

09-25-11

10-8-11

10-08-11

11-01-11

11-01-11

11-01-11

11-13-11

11-13-11

11-13-11

11-21-11

11-20-11

11-24-11

11-24-11

12-03-11. Cold temperatures gave the normally pure white Datura wrightii flowers a purple tinge. This is the most purple I have ever seen on these flowers.

I know most other garden bloggers posted their favorite 2011 photos at the first of the year. I am a little slow at this blogging thing. I have also spent many of my free daylight hours in the yard. This dry and warmish winter been great for working on projects (removing grass, digging trenches for drainage pipes, adding pathways) and moving plants so they have time grow some roots before summer.

2012 promises (threatens?) to be a drier year than 2011. Despite occasional rains, lake levels have remained low. So low that we are expecting to go into Stage 4 watering restrictions soon. This will mean no outside watering and a true test of the resiliency of my prairie plantings. 

21 comments:

  1. This post is amazing, your garden is amazing! I love the gravel path on 09-25-11 pic. You took beautiful pictures to wildlife too. I hope this 2012 drought test will be passed by your garden, I bet it would be rather dry for us in Italy as well, this year.

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    1. Thanks Alberto. I am sure my plants will survive if they do not get any water this summer, but they may not look very good. I hope we both get more rain!

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  2. Your prairie garden is beautiful and your great photos are worth the wait. Amazing that the fall rains still leave your area still so low on water.

    I also like the gravel path with a little glimpse of standard green lawn beyond for contrast. I'm looking forward to seeing your changes too.

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    1. Shirley, our main water source is up by a foot and still 12.5 feet below the full level. I blame it on poor management of our water resources because mandatory restrictions were not implemented until last August.

      Thanks for the comments. I will post some new photos soon, which by my blogging time standards may be July.

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  3. Your garden is beautiful. If I were a butterfly, I'd want to live there! I worry about the possibility of another drought this summer. I've never seen the lake levels persistently stay low for so long.

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    1. Thanks HolleyGarden. The butterflies do seem to like it around here. I was surprised to see a Gulf Fritillary flying around last weekend.

      The water situation is getting a little scary. We may need a good hurricane or tropical storm to blow through to get the lakes filled again.

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  4. Is the grass of 11-13 Lindheimer's or another muhly? LOVE that grass! I am loving this absolutely gorgeous weather we've been having, but I'm afraid it might mean summer is going to be worse. I know we've had warm days in January before, but I don't remember such a long stretch of them. Like you, I'm taking advantage of the nice days and getting some garden projects done! Your garden is quite a beautiful testimony of the resiliency of drought tested natives!

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    1. I guess I should have labeled my photos, Toni. The first 11-13-11 grass is the Pine Muhly that received so much attention this summer. The only place I have seen them for sale in DFW is at Westons in FW. The second 11-13-11 photo includes a less impressive Indian Grass.

      Unless we get a deluge of rain between now and summer, 2012 will be a tougher summer for those of us in the North Texas Municipal Water District because of our water shortage. Maybe I will go into the business of designing prairie gardens in 2013?

      In the meantime, I am enjoying the weather and the soil has the perfect moisture level for digging. Normally, the clay soil is very mucky in January.

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  5. Well, you know how much I love your garden...such an inspiration...and so well-done! I can't help but marvel at how well all the textures and colors work together...especially backlit...so amazing. I have to admit, I'm totally jealous of how well your Little Bluestem colors up...they are just spectacular. Mine seem quite feeble in comparison! I have to admit, I'm not usually a bit fan of cactus, but that Opuntia (I think) of yours is such an amazing contrast to everything else...I just love it! I've always wanted to ask you...where did you get that Prairie-School-ish birdbath (or is it a sundial)? I've sort of coveted it for a while :-) I can't imagine what I'd do if I couldn't water at all...I do hope your garden makes it though...but then, if anyone's garden can take it...it will be yours! Cheers...and keep up the great work!

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    1. Scott, you are too kind. We should just start a mutual admirers club because I feel the same about your garden. The colors of the little bluestem are the result of good timing on moist mornings. Once the leaves and stems dry in the sun, they are a washed out brown. I agree with you about the cactus and it is very photogenic. Isn't the birdbath great? I found it on clearance at a local nursery. I looked at it and thought about it for at least 30 minutes and finally decided it was too big and too expensive...even on clearance. So I left the nursery and ran some other errands but I kept thinking about it and decided I had to go back. Here is a link to the manufacturer. http://campaniainternational.com/index.php?page=pine-meadow-birdbath It looks like there are some dealers in your area. I noticed that Jenny at the Rock Rose blog has the same birdbath. Thanks again for all the comments.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your great photos from your wonderful garden with us!

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  7. Thank you Peter. I enjoy your blog and photos of American prairie grasses and flowers. It is ironic that they appear to be more popular in landscape design in Europe than they are here.

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  8. Oh wow, am I glad that I found your blog! I absolutely love prairies, and since purchasing 9 acres, have big plans to get rid of all of this so-called 'yard' and restore it to something more natural.

    Your photos are stunning, and it is great to see that such a daunting task can actually be accomplished!

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    1. Hi Prairie Cat. Thanks for stopping by. My prairie is a much smaller scale than your nine acres. I wish you luck bringing back the prairie. I am sure you have seeds in place just waiting for the opportunity to sprout.

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  9. Your first 11/24 photo is my absolute favorite - what great misty softness, and I like the perspective with the big tree in the background. I hope you avoid Stage 4 restrictions. We're hoping to avoid Stage 3, which is the same as your Stage 4, though they talk of rewriting it to allow at least some watering. It kills me to think of 50% of our Highland Lakes water going downstream to the rice farmers last year. They've stopped that this year.

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    1. Pam, that is one of my favorites too. Another of those right time, right place photos. It looks like we are staying in Stage 3 a little longer and Stage 4 will not be considered until the end of May. This week's rains raised lake levels a few feet. One side of me kind of wants us to go to Stage 4 to force more people to take a good look at their water usage. Just like the logic of sending your water to rice farmers.

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  10. Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to document your prairie transformation!! It is lovely! It has provided me the inspiration to NOT replace the St. Augustine I lost this past summer...

    I have been a master naturalist for years, but converting my yard has been on the "backburner". Time to dig out all my books and come up with a plan for all my dirt!

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  11. dmarie, a yard like mine is not for everyone. Sometimes I even wonder if it is for me. You don't have to mow every week, but it takes a lot of work to design and establish and there are other tasks that must be done on a regular basis to avoid having a prairie mess. Start on a smaller scale and build flower beds with native plants. The birds, bees, and butterflies will thank you with there presence. If your St. Augustine did not survive last summer, my guess is that it does not get enough sun or was not properly maintained. St. Augustine is actually fairly drought tolerant and can stay green on a weekly watering and go dormant but still survive on much less water.

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    1. I understand what you mean about a prairie mess. I even feel that way about some of my native beds. I am learning to use some repetition of plants to make it more "neighborhood friendly" looking. I am slowly converting my existing beds to mostly natives and adding bunch grasses. I should document the process, but my point and click just won't cut it. Your picts are great!

      I do live on a corner lot so doing the whole yard would be rather much!
      As for my St. Augustine, I fully admit to not enough watering during the drought.
      Have you kept some St. Augustine in the front for normal curb appeal? My neighbor just mentioned "you have so many butterflies! I don't have any..." so I guess I am headed in the right direction!

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    2. Dmarietx, you must be doing the right thing if you have a lot of butterflies. Repetition of plants is a good thing, especially in the front yard where the neighbors can see. I used to have a strip of St Augustine around the perimeter of the prairie, but it is all gone now. Now I only have St Augustine along one side of the house. It is just a matter of time before it goes too. Good luck with your project!

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  12. Wow. I'm a little bit in love with your yard. I'm hoping my own new garden will look a bit like this.

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