This is what happens when you don’t mow my back yard. You can see the grass is still really short and doesn’t really warrant mowing, but the Golden Crownbeard is out of control.
Mind you, I let it get out of control knowing that, with our extreme drought conditions (upgraded from exceptional), the migrating butterflies would have little to feast on. So I just kept a path clear to my clothesline umbrella, and to the birdbath and let the rest go.
Of course the benefit is that you get lots of lovely butterflies and bees happily ingesting the nectar.
The downside, to not mowing, or weeding, is this. There are gardens somewhere in that mess of grasses. I have not been watering these gardens, which apparently the grasses don’t mind, so the soil is too hard to pull weeds.
On the plus side, it’s providing popular shelter for the birds. I’m constantly flushing sparrows and wrens out of the nearly hip high grasses. I’m almost sorry that I’ll have to eventually pull them. Then I’ll have to deal with all the germinating grass seeds. I would like to eventually walk down my stone path again. It’s there, honest.
Two years ago, in the fall I set out all kinds of wildflowers seeds along one of the swale berms. Nothing sprouted last Spring, so I assumed harvester ants had taken away all the seeds. But I was pleasantly surprised to find, this year, that some survived. At least two Indian Blanket plants bloomed this year. This is the Oklahoma State flower.
Last year we had iris plants growing up under the sycamore tree in the driveway island. There were no blooms though. Maybe there was too much water last year. In any case, this year the irises bloomed. We’ve got three varieties so far: a gold one…
…a purple and white one…
…and an unusually colored chocolate one (milk chocolate, that is).
I also came across a native from the Iris family. This is Dotted Blue-eyed Grass, one of two blue-eyed grass species with the yellow center. I lucked out getting this photo, because I couldn’t find the plant the next evening.
Having grown up in the moist forests of Southern Canada, I’m familiar with the richness and variety of native fern species. They were frequently encountered, and eaten (fiddleheads, yum). I guess it didn’t really occur to me to look for a fern in the dry, sandy, prairie soils of Oklahoma, but there it was: Winter Grape Fern. The name describes it well.
The sterile fronds are prostrate, only millimeters above the ground, and hard to find as a result. The fronds are green over the winter months, which makes sense since those are generally the wetter months. The fronds do look ferny, but it was the fertile frond that caught my searching eye.
The fertile frond is about 4 inches tall and looks like a bunch of grapes. Earlier in it’s growing season, the frond stays curled up and straightens out in February to ripen. The sporangia, the little balls on the frond, are just starting to mature, the darker balls.
Now I know to look for the moisture loving plants during the cooler moister months of late Fall and Winter. Windhaven has been a wealth of fascinating, unexpected discoveries.