A Better Sense of Place

2014 July 13 (Sun)

A surprise hit: the back alley

Native biodiversity is steadily increasing. The area that is doing the best is the full-sun back alley, which kind of surprised me. I thought I'd have the hardest time back there because of the blazing hot sun and dry, washed-away soil, but a lot of plants are actually starting to thrive: straggler daisy, partridge pea, lanceleaf coreopsis, purple coneflower, prairie verbena, Maximilian sunflower, black-eyed Susan, and coralbean. Some aren't particularly native to my parish, but Texas isn't that far off and I use the seeds that I've got.

I tell myself I'm going to go drive around outside city limits to get wild seeds, but I never do. So far, I've been relying on Texas seed, anything CANPS members have had available, and anything that birds and the wind introduce. Groundsel and hairy clustervine come to mind.

The Eastern Savannah Grass Mix might be growing. It's hard to say. It's going to take at least 3 years for it to get big. In the meantime, I'll do my best to keep the area short (<6 inches) and weeded — chamberbitter and crabgrass are the main culprits. I'll buy some more grass seeds to sow elsewhere. Because it takes so long, I want to start as soon as possible. My notes say I sowed some in the alley. (Hopefully, they didn't get washed away.) That means I'll only need some for the rain garden and front yard. I'll focus on little bluestem, Gulf muhly, and switchgrass. The broomsedge that came with the house is starting to spread around on its own, so no need to spend money on that one.

The rain garden and Chicken Yard are looking worn. It's because there's nothing to replace the spent coreopsis. My wish list for these areas is long: cardinal flower, American beautyberry, Indian pink, Gulf muhly, strawberry bush, Virginia sweetspire, and buttonbush. I have a little bit of inland seaoats, and it's going to take time for it to spread. A rain garden in dappled shade is slightly difficult to plant for, but I think it can be done.

As far as the insects go, I'm seeing more bees and butterflies now. Not crazy numbers of them. Just a modest increase. Bumblebees love the partridge pea.


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