Thursday, August 25, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

Ravine planting of
 Virginia Wild Rye
No wonder the native plant experts tell you to start off with small projects.  These  plants are certainly hardy and low maintenance, once established.  "Once established" is the key phrase.  It takes time for them to get established.  And as I've said before, I'm impatient.  It's been a long, very hot summer here in Northwest Ohio.  Very dry.   My impatience with this conversion has caused me to add a lot of plants.  And that's requiring a lot of work.  That's OK because I enjoy it.  But I sure am anxious for the results.  Even though we have a drip irrigation system I put in many years ago, it doesn't reach to all the areas where we put new native plantings.  I've been forced to stretch hoses, and carry buckets of water to help get these new plants through the drought. 

Several things I've discovered along the way.  Smaller plant specimens are much easier to get established than larger ones.  The  Eastern Wahoos Jan helped me get from the last plant rescue are from 2 to 4 feet tall.  Digging them up certainly had an adverse effect on the root system.  It's taking a lot of energy to get water up to the leafs.  That's putting a bit of stress on the diminished roots.  In the act of transpiration water moves from the roots up to the leaves where it is given up to the air.  I cringed as I watched the Wahoo leaves wilt in spite of the large amounts of watering I've done.   I decided to mist their foliage once or twice a day.  That's seems to be making a huge difference.  Perhaps that helps them conserve their moisture a little more while their roots grow enough.  Before planting, I cut back the rescued Joe-Pye Weed, leaving only short stalks and large root masses.  The idea is similar to the Wahoos in lessening the burden of transpiration.  It is also encouraging the energy from the healthy roots to go into creating new growth instead of pumping water way up the stalk.  I also cut back the newly rescued Virginia Wild Rye and Bottlebrush Grass plants to only a couple of inches.  Dividing the Virginia Wild Rye into 16 individuals, I  planted them on an eroding slope in the woods.  The other day I noticed that half of them are showing new sprouts.  Likewise, the Bottlebrush Grass clumps were divided into 9 plants and planted with only short stalks.  Several days ago I saw the first new shoots sprouting from the Bottlebrush roots. 

Northern Sea Oats
In spite of all this additional work, I bought two Northern Sea Oats to replace some foreign exotic ornamental grasses in the front; planted 5 Winterberries, 3 Red Chokeberries, 3 Cardinal Flowers, Tall Ironweed,  Joe-Pye Weed,  and transplanted several Ostrich Ferns .  I also managed to snag a couple of Dotted Horsemint plants from a recent volunteer weeding session at the Park system's native nursery.  Although listed as "endangered" in the state of Ohio, they have all they want at the county nursery.  These two growing wild in the Columbine bed were headed for the compost heap.  Funny - rescuing plants from the nursery.  In addition to all this I got sidetracked on experimenting with organic lawn care.

One of our first native plants put in this spring, Prairie Dropseed, is now showing its first seed heads.  I can just imagine how attractive this will be as it fills in next year.  The seed heads blowing in the breeze will be spectacular.  And now I see the Purple Love Grass also is showing some seed.

And two nights ago it rained and rained.  Last night's forecast proved correct with even more.  Thank you Lord.  We really needed that. 

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