Maintaining a small prairie remnant in southeastern Wisconsin

slowlane

Observer
man, that's beautiful. nice to see the seasons (and you) do their work there through these photos.
Thanks. It is a lot of work, sometimes tedious, but overall I am enjoying it. It's satisfying to step back from an area after I've been working it a while and seeing the slow transformation. I think these hills will be snow-covered pretty soon. I'm exited for next summer since I missed the bulk of it this year with my broken foot. Hopefully some more native plants that have been hidden in this area will sprout now that they can get some sunlight.
 
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slowlane

Observer
I did some more work at the prairie the past few days. I'm working the margins of the previously bad area around the big oak. The buckthorn thins out at the margins so before and after pictures don't show the dramatic transformation like the earlier one did. Now it's trickier because the buckthorn is growing up through grass, so it takes a bit of poking around through the grass to find the stumps and treat them after cutting.

Here's an overall picture of the prairie covered hills looking west. There is one big hill behind me as well. The right side of the picture is the big tree I've been working around. It was a cold but pretty morning.
 

plh

Explorer
The buckthorn thins out at the margins so before and after pictures don't show the dramatic transformation like the earlier one did. Now it's trickier because the buckthorn is growing up through grass, so it takes a bit of poking around through the grass to find the stumps and treat them after cutting.
Beautiful photos. Buckthorn is evil, it is even difficult to keep out of my yard in SE WI.
 

slowlane

Observer
Beautiful photos. Buckthorn is evil, it is even difficult to keep out of my yard in SE WI.
Thanks. Yep buckthorn sucks. It's nearly impossible to eradicate once it's taken a hold in an area. Natural areas like this are especially hard to control because you can't just go in clear cutting and broadcasting herbicide or you'll also wipe out everything good your trying to help. This is going to be a multi-year project on the hill tops that hopefully will eventually get to a maintenance stage versus major removal.
 

slowlane

Observer
I went out to the little prairie this afternoon and cleaned up trash, which mostly consisted of cans, bottles, and fast-food wrappers along the side that borders Highway 67. I also found one sad looking beach ball that had been caught in some brush. The snow is basically gone now except on one north facing hillside. It was sunny and almost 50 degrees when I was out there. Spring is near! I'm excited to see what grows by the big oak tree that I cleared around last fall. Hopefully some native plants return and not just garlic mustard and more buckthorn, but that is a real possibility. We'll see. Sorry no pictures today since I had my hands full with trash buckets.
 
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slowlane

Observer
I've gone out to the prairie about once a week for the past month looking for any signs of spring. I found nothing until today. We've had a cold and snowy April which isn't too unusual. Today I finally found what I was looking for; Pasqueflowers. They are about the earliest blooming native prairie plant in this region, so it's a welcome sign to see them. Hopefully winter is behind us for good now. Last year it warmed up earlier and I found the first flower on March 31. Today I found five Pasqueflowers on the easternmost hill. Just as I did last year, I scoured the other hills looking for any more, but found none. They seem to grow only on that one hill. I also found some Prairie Smoke plants just starting to grow. It's tricky to find these early bloomers while wandering through the monotone yellowish tan of last season's grasses. I have to walk slowly and carefully scan the ground. Everything blends together until suddenly a faint hint of purple peeks out of the drabness.

A Pasqueflower starting to bloom. Spring is here!

 
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