Hubbard Fellowship Blog- Sprouts

This post was written by Evan Barrientos, one of our Hubbard Fellows.  Evan is a talented writer and photographer and I encourage you to check out his personal blog. If you would like to see more of his photographs, you can follow him on Facebook.


Woolly Plantain (Plantago patagonica) sprouting form a pocket gopher mound.

Watching plants resprout this spring has been really interesting for me. Spending time with Chris Helzer has made me appreciate the small details of prairies, particularly plant diversity and distribution. Through him I’ve learned to read a prairie’s history of management and disturbance even in early spring…and appreciate its minute aesthetics! On March 21 I was taking a sunset walk (looking down rather than at the sky) when I noticed several attractive sprouts growing on the sandy mounds created by pocket gophers as they dig tunnels. I remembered reading how burrowing animals play an important role in plant germination. By providing patches of bare soil, these rodents give seeds an open place to spread their roots and leaves with much less competition from other plants. It was neat to witness this happening for myself!


On that walk I also found my first flower of the year! Carpeting just a small segment of our trail as it runs through the sandhills were dozens of tiny Sun Sedges (Carex heliophilis) already in bloom. If you weren’t looking for them, you might not even realize what they were. Their flowers were quite small, but in March their waving yellow petals were like thousands of little victory flags. Two nights later, a sudden snowstorm roared through Nebraska. I was eager to see if the delicate flowers had survived, so the next morning I was trekking back to them before sunrise. To my delight, the flowers were still there, poking through the snow. I got on my belly and started photographing. I wanted an image that represented spring’s triumph over winter. As the sun crested the hill it bathed the sedges’ petals in gold. Like dozens of tiny torches, the sedges proclaimed that spring had indeed won.


Sun Sedge (Carex heliophilis) blossoming in snow.

Hubbard Fellowship Blog – Planning a Prairie Garden

A guest post by Anne Stine, one of our Hubbard Fellows:

It just recently turned cold out, which means I’ve started daydreaming about next year’s garden.  I am a native plant enthusiast, and I have decided that I’ll be planting a prairie garden filled with my favorite flowers that I’ve learned with The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska over the past six months.  I’ve poured through the internet searching for propagation information and bloom times.  I want to make sure I have a continuous bloom period, both because it makes for pleasant viewing and because I want to provide native bee habitat across the growing season.  I also need to know which seeds require stratification or scarification. Because I am me, I made a spreadsheet of all this information (at the bottom of this post).

Who wouldn't want flowers like this in a garden?  Blue lobelia and cardinal flower in The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies.

Who wouldn’t want flowers like this in a garden? Blue lobelia and cardinal flower in The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies.

Ultimately, I want my garden to be a great pollinator resource filled with unique native plants. If it attracts birds and butterflies too, that’s a huge plus. Lastly, if it’s going to survive my schedule, it needs to be low-maintenance.  I am pleased to note that gardening with native plants can fulfil all these objectives.  My table of appealing native plants, though not comprehensive, will help me design my garden to satisfy these requirements.  I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on favorite native plants and propagation tricks.

Happy plann(t)ing!

Click on the tables below to see a larger/clearer version of them.  Or click HERE to see the same information in a PDF format.



*Information on propagation, soil moisture requirements, and bloom period gathered from the USDA Plants Database, Native Plant Database, and the Missouri Botanical Garden Plantfinder Database.