A Better Sense of Place

This is a story of diversifying the species in a yard in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I wanted to undo some of the damage that was done by replacing native species with exotic species. Few birds, few butterflies, constant maintenance (weeding, mowing, watering), complete disregard of the environmental uniqueness of place. I figured I could do better.

Spring weeds eternal

In my last post, I mentionned that the area I hoed and bordered between the sidewalk and the street is overtaken by exotic invasives. Yesterday, I was standing over it and wondering how to kill it back so that the seeds I sowed in October could sprout and see sunlight. But this morning, I was thinking that maybe it's a useful cover crop that I should live with until it dies from the heat. For this post, I've picked out seven plants, including the aforementionned exotic, that come back year after year to my yard in early spring. I think I've identified them all, and putting a name to a plant helps to understand where it's from and what it's doing. (Spoiler alert: only two are native.)

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It all wakes up

I've been trying to be patient all winter. I've sowed seed here and there (milkweed, lanceleaf coreopsis, blue mistflower, tickseed, rattlesnake master, coralbean, and little bluestem). I've planted new things (witchhazel, swamp sunflower, buttonbush, American beautyberry, crossvine, red mulberry, arrowwood viburnum, Turk's cap, and Eastern redbud). I've moved some others (ironweed and groundsel). I've dug things up and put them into pots (redcedars and pines). And I've waited, because this entire time, nothing has grown. At least above ground. As they say, the activity has all been below ground. But that's pretty boring because there's no proof that anything is happening.

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Winter update

The rain garden has now been in existence for about 1.4 years. Way back in August and September 2013, I carved out a retention area and sowed the seed. The Chicken Yard was sown at the same time but without any land-sculpting. So how do they look now in their second mid-winter? (Or is it late winter?)

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The Leaf Incident

I wasn't sure I wanted to post about the latest interaction with the neighbor, but I figure it might help give a more complete history of this yard-restoration process. It's been two weeks since it happened, but it feels like it was only yesterday.

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Four years of stumbling

Plants grow so slowly, I have to actively remind myself of how far I've managed to restore the land and ecology. I've been planning a new blog post for a month or so, and I was initially only going to look at what I've planted and sowed in 2014. But this morning I thought it might be more interesting to compare 2014 to 2012 and 2013 to see if there's an interesting progression. (There is.) And to really make it interesting, I decided to compare now to how the land was handed to me when we bought it back in 2010. ("Bought" is the legal term that I may as well continue using for convenience.)

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Exotics that I haven't killed yet

I've planted and left alone species fairly native to my parish and I've pulled up many an exotic from the ground, but there are still many larger individuals in the yard that are definitely not from 'round these parts. I thought it'd be a good exercise to write about them and why I haven't killed them yet. I also list alternatives that I would plant instead (and which are not necessarily what native appears the most similar).

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Fall failure

I talk and think so much about native plants that I'm sure people assume my gardening is nothing but success upon success. Surely I've got a lush, healthy, multi-layer ecosystem flourishing around the house, right? Well, now that it's fall and plants are starting to peter out in preparation for the winter hibernation, I thought it'd be a good time to share how things did in this 2014 growing season.

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Two-month recap

As I said in yesterday's post, this post will sum up with pictures what's been going on the past two months. I'll start with the alley circa August 15, a mere twelve days after my neighbor accosted me at my front door with "But have you seen the alley?"

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Blog unveiling

Yes, I'm writing a blog post about this blog. I think I just want to lay down some thoughts about why I'm making this upgrade. I wasn't sure when I created my "Yard Diary" webpage on July 20, 2013, how many entries I was going to write or for how long I'd be writing. Maybe I thought it'd only be a year and that I'd have a good before-and-after picture set and a feeling of completing another 12-month project. Well, it's not turning out to be as finite as I thought.

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Neighbor interaction #2

In the mail today — yes, the literal, physical, paper mail — I received a letter. It was written by my neighbor and is "Re: Landscape Concerns". I will include the key parts of it here:

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alley before caterpillars exotic fall flowers front yard laws neighbor planning plant id prep rain rain garden snow sowing spring sprouts summer winter