Tree Planting

Matt Barnes Planting Redbud Seedlings

Matt Barnes Planting Redbud Seedlings

UPS delivered 3,000 seedling trees yesterday. Here is a snapshot of Matt Barnes getting some Redbud in the ground today. We got a mix if native species including:
Deciduous Holly,
Chinquapin Oak,
Swamp White Oak,
White Oak,
Pin Oak,
Bur Oak,
River Birch,
Shellbark Hickory,
Tulip Poplar and
2,000 Flowering Dogwoods.

We really love Flowering Dogwoods!

The seedling come from the George O. White State Forest Nursery run by the Missouri Department of Conservation

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H is for Hawk

Northern Goshawk, Accipiter gentilis

Northern Goshawk, Accipiter gentilis

I’m just finishing “H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald. I’m surprised by the amount of positive press the book is getting considering it is about a woman training a Northern Goshawk to fly. The book is so well-written that it appeals to people even if you aren’t interested in birds or falconry.

Last year I was able to get this picture of a Northern Goshawk at the PGT. Justin Robertson brought her out to fly as I took pictures. Goshawks are amazing birds; very powerful and intense.

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First Spring Wildflowers

Harbinger of Spring (Erigenia bulbosa)

Harbinger of Spring (Erigenia bulbosa)

Walking along Hiller’s Creek this morning we found the first wildflowers of the year. Their name is perfect: Harbinger of Spring. The best display of woodland wildflowers is still a month away.

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Gadwalls Flying

Gadwalls Flying

Gadwalls Flying

I startled a small flock of ducks this afternoon as I walked around Potter’s Lake. They circled over a few times so that I could capture a few shots. My duck ID skills are pretty weak but I believe this is a male and female Gadwall.

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First Phoebe!

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Heard my first Phoebe today. Another sure sign of spring.

He was at the barn scouting out sites for a nest.
Their song is very common around the buildings here at the PGT. Their song says their name: “fee-bee.”

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My Favorite Wildflower Nursery

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar on a Swamp Milkweed

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar on a Swamp Milkweed

Missouri Wildflower Nursery is my favorite place to get plants so I was honored when they asked to use my picture on the cover of this years catalog. The picture (shown here) is a Monarch caterpillar munching on a Swamp Milkweed. I took it right in front of the PGT Visitor Center.

Merv Wallace owns the nursery and has been a good friend for decades. Many of the plants blooming at the Prairie Garden Trust came from Merv. The catalog is a rich source of information about gardening with native plants. You can request a catalog on their website:

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Burned by Burns

Jamie Coe managing a PGT Burn

Jamie Coe managing a PGT Burn

Tomorrow we plan to do a controlled-burn on 80-acres here at the PGT. Even though we been doing burns for a couple decades we are beginning to have more doubts. Despite careful preparation it seems that we always end up killing things we want to encourage. We always end up killing dogwoods and other flowering trees. Even though we burn in patches I know we are hurting butterflies and reducing the habitat for grassland birds like the Henslow’s Sparrow.

To help reduce the damage we are experimenting more with foam and removing woody debris around the base of desirable trees. That takes a lot more time than the burn does but it’s worth it.

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The Sounds of Spring

Woodcock by  Jonathan Pointer

Woodcock by Jonathan Pointer

Tonight after sunset we walked out onto the prairie and found ourselves surrounded by at least a dozen male Woodcocks performing their mating ritual. After calling from the ground for for several minutes they launch themselves into the air to give an ecstatic zig-zag aerial display. It is a rare treat!

At the same time all the tiny ponds and puddles around us were filled with the intense spring mating calls of Spring Peepers; a tiny frog.

High overheard we heard flocks of Snow Geese honking as they flew north.

These sounds let me know Spring is here.

Click here to see a video on YouTube gives you a sense of what I’m talking about.


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Planting Wildflowers

Lorna Planting Wildflower Seed_2-12
Weird as it sounds, it’s nice to have snow to toss seeds on when planting wildflowers. You can see the seed on top of snow so you know what areas have already been seeded.

In this snapshot from a couple days ago Lorna is hand seeding a recently burned area on the edge of the Dog-Leg Prairie.

We had planted this area just before the severe drought a couple years ago and none of the plants survived. We’ll keep trying till it works.

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350 Million Year Old Sculpture

Devonian Fossil Sculpture

Devonian Fossil Sculpture

Bill Knight has created a wonderful sculpture for us. By cutting, grinding and polishing he has created a gorgeous sculpture. It stands about 19-inches tall and must weigh over 50-pounds.

This sculpture started a couple of years ago when he collected a few rocks in the creek here at the Prairie Garden Trust.

Bill’s polishing revealed the hexagonal shapes of fossilized coral. That coral is known as Hexagonaria. Apparently it thrived in the shallow sea that was here during the Devonian Era 350 million years ago.

Thanks Bill for creating such a wonderful work of art!

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