It’s magic. Spring prairie emerges as old growth melts away

Spring in the prairie. New growth begins to displace the brown.

Spring in the prairie. New growth begins to displace the brown.

I tend to take fewer prairie pictures in the early spring. What’s to see? It’s brown. Tall fronts of dried prairie grasses wave in muted contrast to the new green of surrounding trees and grass. The seed heads of purple cone flowers and black eyed Susans are nearly bare, picked clean by birds over the winter. It’s all brown.

“What do you do with it?” asked my brother in law who visited in March.

“Nothing,” I responded. “Eventually, the brown just melts away.”

He was skeptical. As I was when a friend who’s had a prairie for longer said the same thing to me. But she was right. Eventually, the new growth comes on and last year’s dried out plant material disappears. As though by magic.

Golden Alexander

Golden Alexander

Now in June, the green of new plant growth is more evident. Particularly along the edges of the prairie where the plants enjoy more sun.

And if you look closely, you can find the first flowers. Golden Alexander and white foxglove.

Foxglove - one of the earliest prairie blooms.

Foxglove – one of the earliest prairie blooms.

I extended the prairie another twenty feet last fall. I didn’t need to spread any seed. The prairie had already done that. I only needed to kill the grass. The new area is full of prairie plants. Unfortunately, the deer have found these tender shoots particularly appealing. The tallest plants are neatly clipped off each morning.

Eventually, the deer will move on. And I have faith the prairie will persist with its spring magic.

 

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