Friday, September 21, 2012

Carl Kurtz's Photo Essay: Compass Plants

In preparation for the upcoming second edition of A Practical Guide to Prairie Restoration by Carl Kurtz, we're excited to be sharing Carl's beautiful photos and observations about nature!

Carl Kurtz is a professional writer, teacher, naturalist, and photographer. He and his wife and partner, Linda, live on a 172-acre family farm in central Iowa that is one of the few prairie seed sources in the Midwest.

Compass plants, one of the most distinctive features of the mid-continent tallgrass prairie, grow in both wet and dry areas.  They seem to flourish where the soil is moderately wet, in botanical terms, mesic.  As a long-lived perennial they require a number of years to mature and produce a flower stalk.  Young plants, 3 or 4 years of age, may have only one flower stalk, while those 10 or more years of age may have more than a half dozen.  It appears they are sensitive to changing weather conditions and some years store food reserves rather than produce flowers and seeds.   Showy-tick trefoil provides a  
colorful understory to this scene.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September Gardening Tip

Expect the first frost around September 30 in northern Iowa and October 15 in southern Iowa. Tender plants can be protected from the first few frosts by covering them with sheets, blankets, or other protective material.

From Gardening in Iowa and Surrounding Areas by Veronica Lorson Fowler

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nature In Iowa: Yellow - Bellied Sapsuckers

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers arrive from the north; this woodpecker may drum noisily on your roof, gutters, or chimney.

From The Iowa Nature Calendar by Jean C. Prior and James Sandrock