Counting my blossoms

Some people count their blessings.  I do.  But I get more specific and count the wildflowers that we raise on our property.  It gives us a sense of actually making progress (or not).

We have had some failures – such as with pasqueflower – it just does not seem to like our soils or conditions.  But for most other native wildflowers that we have brought in, we can see an increase.  Sometimes it is dramatic, such as when the stiff gentian showed up.  I must have planted them from seed, but had forgotten.  Then several years later I was walking the prairie in September and WOW – there were dozens of robust blooming plants.  Now I depend on them to raise my spirits in fall.

The prairie wildflowers mostly do quite well, and quickly.  Some like the beautiful butterflyweed take a bit longer.  But the woodland wildflowers generally are much slower and reproducing.  We planted about 20 hepatica in the early 1980s.  They slowly grew and started to set seed.  At first we relied on natural spread – but that was quite slow for our modern pace of life.  So we began to collect and spread seed.  And when plants came up on paths, we would move them to a better (in our opinion) place.

The results for this year are encouraging.  Blooming hepatica plants are up to 278, from 201 in 2009, and from those 20 or so plants in the 1980s.  Bloodroot were up to 357, from ~50 in 2009; partly due to spread, and partly due to clearing of buckthorn that revealed some large patches.  And bluebells were nice this year, up to 317 blooming plants from 110 in 2009, and about 20 that we brought in during the 1990s.

It takes some time and effort to do the count.  We flag each plant, and then count the flags.  But the payoff is knowing – not just thinking – that we have done some good.

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