Monday, August 21, 2017
Only the brilliant red flowers at forest's edge were planted by us. Everything else is here with no human action of any kind for many years. The area was plowed as a field or used as cow pasture in the distant past. The Cardinal Flower may naturally reproduce in this location since we searched for a spot that had everything that this plant requires. An occasional spring seeps water into this area. The shade of the bedrock ridge delays the arrival of warm days as winter ends. Late snow cover may help these plants avoid the ravages of bitter frosts. We will likely find eighteen daughter plants growing where these three plants grew. As next summer builds we will look for new plants from seed that may appear as a result of this moist ground. We find those prospects exciting.
This is one of the recently discovered new plants from seed. They were placed in pots to see how they responded to being ripped from the ground. A shaded location and frequent watering have them in excellent condition. Fall transplants usually do not survive here but these plants have considerable time to put down roots in their new location.
This is hardly a natural looking location but we are doing everything possible to help these plants survive and reproduce on their own. This is river-bottom ground and it is much warmer here than up the hill. River fog frequently washes away frost before it has a chance to really form and damage plant leaves. That should lessen the impact of frost on these plants. Stones store both heat and moisture. Cardinal Flower requires both to survive. A little work on the driveway will divert rainfall runoff in the direction of these plants. Partial shade from the nearby sumac trees will make this a more gentle location.
These three times chopped leaves finished the planting. Their job is to smother weeds, retain moisture and decay into a more natural woodland soil.
The triangular shaped rock and I have a history. The farmer working the land that borders ours places stones removed from the field on the aged stone wall that serves as a boundary. A huge visually interesting rock was part of the newly dropped stones. Despite the landowners permission for us to harvest stone here, there was no way that this stone could be moved. Hammer and wedges split the stone into several slices. This top piece was walked up the hill to the gravel bank. That journey required several days since my periods of hard physical exertion must be limited to avoid cardiac episodes. Several flip overs moved this stone to the top of a temporary wall. Today the stone was easily moved down into the lawn cart. The final move was accomplished easily. The stone will last for years and we hope that the Cardinal Flower can survive in this location.
The area behind the stones is scheduled to be transformed into a no care planting of native plants. The first New England Aster is in place. It will be joined by Black Eyed Susans, Anise Hyssops and more asters. First we need to beat back the invasive field grasses. That task needs to be completed soon or our new natives will simply be overrun.