[To see photos and stories of this prairie in other years, go to the links on the main 3 Finger Valley page.]
3/6/2005 The meltwater creek
It actually makes waterfalls in the woods when it’s running.
This is the prairie’s fourth year, and it’s finally looking like a prairie. We stopped mowing this year to give the prairie plants a chance to to produce seeds and to (hopefully) crowd out the weeds.
This is the south end of the prairie, looking toward the house. It’s dominated by Canada Goldenrod right now – especially in August.
8/7/2005 This Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) is about 10 feet tall. These plants like damp places, so there are lots of them in the lower parts of the valley. In the background is Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), Oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides), Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis) and Fleabane (Erigeron sp.)
The prairie is finally tall enough to hide animals like deer. Here’s a fawn that stood perfectly still while I walked by – I’m sure it thought it was invisible.
9/18/2005 We mowed out an area under some Black Walnut trees in the narrow part of the valley. It’s the lowest part of the slope, and is where the meltwater creek runs in the spring.
After we mowed, I planted some seeds of plants that grow in shady wetlands. I’m hoping they’ll grow up and slow the erosion.
The valley in October
There’s a huge stand of aspen along the top edge of the valley, which I’ve started girdling. I’m afraid that if it stays there, it will keep dropping seeds into the prairie and turn it into an aspen grove.
This fall I discovered Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) blooming. It’s a common grass in remnant prairies, and I’d been planting it in all of our planted prairies, but I’d never seen it come up. Now that I’ve noticed it, I’ve seen it in several of the other prairies too.
10/31/2005 Looking south from the middle finger of the valley. It’s an area with lots of prairie grasses – including Prairie Dropseed.
12/3/2005 Our path through the prairie in the snow.