Exponential Growth of Bush Honeysuckle

Bush Honeysuckle
This week I’ve come to understand how wildly invasive Bush Honeysuckle is. 5-year ago we found the first Bush Honeysuckle at the PGT and immediately killed it. Because many nature areas and suburban wood lots are filled with this exotic shrub we’ve been on alert and have maintained an attitude of “search-and-destroy”. Despite being aggressive about control it can now be found on many parts of the PGT. I’ve found hundreds of plants this week. The growth is exponential. Will we be able to stop it?

Attached is a picture of the first Bush Honeysuckle that I found 5-years ago. The berries are very attractive and birds like to eat them. Apparently birds are the main way that the seeds are spread.

Click here to see good information on controlling this plant.

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Planting Oaks

Quercus macrocarpa

Bur Oak

Lorna and I wandered over the entire property today inspecting trees that we’ve planted. We were particularly interested in the oaks since they can be majestic trees that live for centuries. The Bur Oaks planted next to our family cemetery 30-years ago are now over 30-feet tall! The Bur Oaks and Swamp White Oaks planted along the edges of the prairie have had a more difficult time. Over half of those trees have died back to the ground and now have multiple stems

Oaks are known for their resistance to fire so we planted them in areas where we know they would be burned. However it seems that the trees need to be old enough (20-30-years?) to have the thick bark to resist the intense heat of a prairie fire.

It was a perfect fall day to be out. While we were talking around I heard the calls of Bob White Quail and White-throated Sparrows. I startled a big fat groundhog relaxing in the sun near the barn.

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Lorna named “Prairie Landowner of the Year”

Lorna-Prairie-Landowner-of-the-Year-Award-Crop_5842 Lorna-Domke_3019
Yesterday the Missouri Prairie Foundation awarded Lorna Landowner of the Year for the work she is doing here at the Prairie Garden Trust. As the President and Director of the PGT Lorna is leading the effort to turn the property into a successful public nature garden.

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New Bathrooms at the PGT Center

PGT Bathrooms
Thanks to some generous donors there are new bathrooms at the Prairie Garden Trust. They will usually be unlocked which will be helpful for people who arrive when the main building is closed. They will also be appreciated when buses arrive.

I invite you to come out and check them out. They next couple weeks should be peak Fall color. A great time to come out for a walk.

In the attached picture the bathrooms are on the left side of the building. Jesse Mudd and his crew did the construction. As usual the work is first class.

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Will Marshal Dies

Will Marshall
Will Marshal died yesterday after a long illness. He will be missed. Will was a close friend, neighbor and a long term leader and supporter of the Prairie Garden Trust. He served on the PGT Board of Trustees up until the time of his death. For many years he served as the president of the board.

Will owned much of the land that is now the Prairie Garden Trust. In 1970 he sold 80-acres to my parents. More recently he sold us 270-acres along Hiller’s Creek. He loved the idea of turning the property into a public nature garden. He loved the property and was able to stay there until the last few weeks when he moved to hospice to be closer to his children in Kanas City.

Of all the chores at the PGT he especially enjoyed helping with controlled burns. He was helping with a burn when I snapped this picture ten years ago.

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Clouded Sulphur Butterfly

Colias philodiceClouded Sulphur, Colias philodice

Today I’m finding butterflies feeding on the Maximillian Sunflower. These tall plants with yellow flowers can be found scattered over many of the prairie areas here at the Prairie Garden Trust. This butterfly is known as a Clouded Sulphur.

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Buckeye Butterfly 

Junonia coenia

Late summer asters are the best place to find butterflies right now. The flowers are scattered all along the paths in the prairie.

This afternoon I found this Common Buckeye feeding on New England Aster. Despite the name (“New England Aster”) this wonderful plant is native to most of North America. If you want to help butterflies I encourage you to get this plant in your garden.

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Swallowtail on Sunflower

Silphium integrifoliumRosinweed, Silphium integrifolium

As summer progresses I find it increasingly difficult to identify the confusing mix of sunflowers. Books such as “Ozark Wildflowers” by Don Kurz really help.

The flower here is called Rosinweed. The butterfly is another Easter Tiger Swallowtail. They are the most abundant butterfly at the moment. I photographed this butterfly late yesterday with the sun shining from behind.

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Monarchs Mating

Danaus plexippusMonarch, Danaus plexippus

This is what butterfly sex looks like!

I found this couple of Monarch butterflies joined together today in the middle of the prairie. At first I saw them flying jointed like this and I had no idea what was going on. After they landed I was able to approach and watch as they sat motionless for several minutes. I carefully backed away so that I wouldn’t disturb them.

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Milkweeds for Monarchs

Danaus plexippusMonarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus,

Chip Taylor at Monarch Watch promotes planting Milkweeds as a way to help save the Monarchs. This afternoon I had a chance to observe first hand why he suggests that.

I watched this butterfly in the middle of a large field filled with scores of different plants in full bloom. But this Monarch didn’t seem interested in stopping to feed. It was moving fast as it kept circling hundreds of feet around me. I noticed it kept coming back to the same spot. When I went to inspect I found this inconspicuous plant, a Tall Green Milkweed (Asclepias hirtella). It would go down near the base of the plant bounce up and down. Was it laying eggs?

Finally at the end it few up and perched backlit on top of the plant for a second and then flew off.

I suggest buying some milkweeds for your garden.

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