Daisy Scouts plant and water more than 80 bare root prairie plants in a study garden being created next to the 1.5 acre prairie restoration. The garden was planted in April. Click here for a photo album.

Carl Handle with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources sorts prairie wildflower seeds by size before planting. Click here for a photo album.

Roger Viseur volunteered his tractor and his time for the morning of June 4 to install the new prairie. The IDNR provided use of the special no-till seed drill.

Diary of a Restoration

4th Installment, June 4, 2003

After a cool, wet and frustrating spring, the 1.5 acre prairie was planted on June 4. A study garden made up of bare root plants was installed in April by the Daisy Scouts. By the time the prairie was seeded, some of the early summer wildflowers in the study garden were already in bloom.

Planting delays were caused by weather that did not allow the field to be sprayed a second time until mid-May. However, seeds were drilled into the site before our deadline of mid-June.

Carl Handel of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources brought a no-till seed drill for us to use free of charge, and helped advise our neighbor Roger Viseur on its operation.

Roger brought his tractor and donated his entire morning to the task. We are greately indebted to Carl and Roger for their help and expertise.

Much of the expense of the planting was covered by a grant from the Illinois Native Plant Society. The Girl Scouts and The Illinois Raptor Center express our thanks to the INPS for helping make this restoration possible.

While the new prairie has taken much of our time and energy, there is news on other fronts as well. Daffodil Valley, the five acre parcel immediately south and west of the prairie will have non-native brush removed soon as part of an Eagle Scout project. The valley has amazed us with its regenerative powers. Several oaks have sprouted and this spring we were treated to a show of smooth penstemon, a native wildflower.

How the flowers and the oaks survived the years of neglect at the hands of the property's previous owner is a mystery. Fall burns are in the works, and a strategy is being planned to reintroduce more native plants to the valley. It may require a slightly different and gentler touch than the prairie, since we do not wish to remove natives already flourishing there.

Wildflower seeds for the prairie were purchased from Earthskin Nursery in Mason City, Illinois. Bareroot plants were purchased from Bluestem Prairie Nursery in Hillsboro. Carl Handel of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources provided a mix of native grass seed.

More activities are now in the planning stages. If you have questions about this unique partnership, email the Illinois Raptor Center at: barnowl@illinoisraptorcenter.org.

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