Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Orland Grasslands...Prairie Restoration in our midst.

A couple of weeks ago Elizabeth Bruhns sent out an e-mail informing Chicago Master Gardeners of a continuing Education opportunity at The Orland Grasslands Prairie Restoration.
Sounded like something I would enjoy so I called my sister and off we went to participate. There we met Ryan White and other volunteer seed collectors eager to learn. Ryan walked us through sections of the prairie giving us a brief history and then showing us how to identify the plants and seeds we wanted to collect that day. We started with Big Blue Stem and Compass Plant .

After collecting the seed for awhile Ryan demonstrated how to separate the seed with what I think was 1/4 inch screen but different sized screen may be used for larger seed. That is Big Blue Stem on the screen in the picture above. The compass plant seed is much larger than the big blue seed so the screen mostly just broke up the dried seedheads. Some of the greener seedheads needed separating by hand.

The next Friday October 11th we returned for more instruction and seed collection. This time one of the seeds we collected was from Tall Coreopsis/coreopsis triperis

The seedheads were easy to spot standing tall over the prairie. The leaves three or five segments ,opposite on reddish stems.

Ryan also helped us learn to identify and collect seed from...
Since collecting as much quality prairie seed as possible is a priority for the stewards of the prairie, Ryan has decided to do one more day of collection with us this Friday October 24th. He is inviting anyone that would like to learn a bit about prairie plant seed collecting to join us.

This picture above is of a wetland area that is being cleared of most woody species except a few natives and will be replanted with desirable species. We met a few of the people involved .They were friendly and enthusiastic about their accomplishments making us feel welcome to join the group.

Linda,Barbara and Ryan holding our mornings collection.

This from Ryan White...
This coming Friday is our last seed collection outing at Orland Grassland before the seed is mixed and sown back to our priority sites. Orland volunteer steward, Pat Hayes, mentioned we need to target the last "good quantities of tall coreopsis, goldenrods, and gray headed coneflower on the western half of the site. There is also thimbleweed remaining here and there." These plants and some beautiful asters will be our primary goal this Friday. Joining us will be stewards Bill and Marybeth Fath, and you can ask about their years of restoration experience on the Grassland that enable us to collect these seeds this year.
We'll meet this Friday, at 10:00 am along 104th just north of 179th. (where we all first met). Look for the sign.

Map Link

Many were interested in coming to The Annual Seed Cleaning Event held next Thursday, November 6th at 6:30 at the Civic Center in Orland. This is the last step before dispersing the seed back at Orland Grassland. We'll mix the millions of seed together as if baking for acres of new prairie vistas. This process is a great celebration of the cooperation from everyone's fall seed harvest. You all played a significant role in this, and are warmly invited to this event.
We hope you or a friends can join us this Friday.
Audubon Chicago Region Field Representative--

2008 Seed Collection Summary: by Pat Hayes
What a wonderful year for those of us who have worked so hard at the Grassland over these many years. For the first time we have actually been able to harvest measurable quantities of seed.

To date, we have collected almost two grocery bags full of cleaned little blue stem. Not cleaned: a full bag of blazing star, a grocery bag of gray headed cone flower, half a bag of compass plant, some prairie dock, rosen weed, whorled milk weed, a full bag of monarda, four grocery bags of wild quinine, some indigo, ironweed, prairie coreopsis and rattlesnake master. Additionally, Ryan has also collected big bluestem (for the shrubland areas), tall coreopsis, and flat headed goldenrod. All these seeds have been collected throughout the extended Phoenix area, Kwadekik, and Northwest Savanna area.

Seed was not collected from The Scrape to allow it all to fully blow around and reseed itself there.

Scurfy pea got away from us this year. While it spread like crazy, it seemingly produced very little to no seed. Also, I had marked with a green tape and had been watching a stand of round-headed bush clover waiting for it to be ready to collect. It's either been collected by someone else, or eaten, as seed heads were snipped as of yesterday.

The little blue was most abundant in the Northwest Savanna area. In this sensitive area, some little blue was collected, and some left behind. Outside sensitive areas, all seed was removed from little blue. Good quantities of tall coreopsis, good goldenrods, and gray headed coneflower remain to be collected throughout the western half of the site. There is also thimbleweed remaining here and there.


Blogger garden girl said...

It looks like a wonderful project! I submitted an online application for the winter master gardener classes, but haven't received a response yet. I'd love to be involved in projects like this.

22/10/08 7:48 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

What a wonderful project......no matter where in the world these things take place, they give me a great lift......

Fab post.....

22/10/08 12:39 PM  
Blogger ChrisND said...

I love that kind of project - I should check if the National Grasslands here do this type of outreach. These prairies are a resource that needs to be protected and education is one path. It fits nicely with the books I have been reading about prairie restoration.

22/10/08 6:04 PM  
Blogger garden girl said...

I wish I'd been able to come, but I had to work at the greenhouse Friday.

On the upside, I reapplied for the Master Gardener program classes in Matteson. It looks like the website was updated recently with a new application form. Hopefully this time I'll hear from them!

28/10/08 11:07 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

I have tried to respond to this post but it keeps being rejected.

gardengirl, you do not have to be a Master Gardener to participate.
Orland Grassland volunteers is always looking for friends.
I'm sure you will hear from the Extension group soon.

Cheryl, yes it is a great project.I know many people volunteer and it would be great to see more blogs talking about where and what they are doing.

ChrisND The National Grasslands would be such a great place to spend time. Let us know what you find out.

30/10/08 6:44 PM  

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