Seed Shed Doing May 2018
Spring was a long time coming this year and I have plants chomping at the bit to get out into the rare plant gardens. But first, the good news.We received a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICE) to continue work at Hanley Savanna. With your help we can triple the grant funds for this project. We'll be sending you a separate letter outlining all the details.
This year will be a busy one for NIPE. We have 96 new acres to restore and, as always, we hope you will come out and help us pick prairie seed. We promise you fresh air, bird song, buzzing pollinators and the satisfaction of knowing that YOU have made a difference. The seed picking schedule will appear later in your inbox.
Here at Lonetree Farm there is a new crop of rare plants under grow lights awaiting transplant. As always, there were surprises, some failures, and many successes, both indoors and out. Since last year's Senna seeds produced only two plants, I tried again under grow lights and was rewarded with a healthy stand of Senna hebacarpa. Strangely, the Senna marilandica seed only produced one seedling—but there are two established plants in the garden already and each produces an awful lot of seed pods. I was hoping for a healthy stand of Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra) but so far, nada. It is notoriously difficult to start from seed and if you have had success starting this beautiful plant, please let me know your secret. Prairie Alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii) is another stubborn one; it has yet to show itself in the seed tray.
NIPE member Bill Hunt shared his greenhouse with us last winter, where 15 rare species are being grown by Laurie Kehl (his greenhouse maven) for the gardens at Lonetree.
Jim (the hubby) seeded 17 beds in the east garden with 33 rare plants last fall. He also seeded the new rain garden with a mix of 14 sedges; I'm anxiously awaiting the spring rains to reveal what is to come.
This spring the most gratifying sight in the east garden is a bed of Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) in full bloom. They, along with White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) and Prairie lespedeza (Lespedeza leptostachya) were grown by Northern Illinois Native Seed Exchange (NINSE). It's too early for the Lespedeza, but the Turtlehead is also coming back strong. Is there any sight more gratifying to a gardener than plants poking their tender growing tips out of the soil after a winter in the deep freeze?
All together we now have over 25 rare plants growing and another 35 waiting to sprout. If you would like to stop by and see the gardens this year, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll set up a meeting time.
Regards, Rickie Rachuy