Thursday, September 25, 2014

Native plants in the neighborhood where I grew up

When I visit Manassas I get an thrill out of going on long walks for my heart health and I have had an keen eye on the wild 17 acre lot across the street from where I grew up. I can remember when everything around the house was farm field, we used to play and explore looking for baby rabbits, toads, quails whippoorwills and meadowlarks. Now I often stroll behind that shopping center to admire the nature gone back to native wilderness. Who ever developed this shopping center expected to do a secondary retail space behind it on this big lot but never found a buyer. It was first just grasses left by the original owner who used it as pasture for his cattle. Then over time the native trees and plants along with some aliens took root. Now it is filled with native red cedar and pine trees between meadows and marshy areas of native grasses, sedges and flowering plants. This visit it was in late season bloom and I stopped on my way home to get some images and see if I could find some common milkweed pods to collect to plant in our gardens for those monarch butterflies who need milkweed to survive. This lot would make an excellent nature preserve for an area that is slowly becoming a continuous paved parking lot and desert for our native flora and fauna. 
 The far edge of this wild area is an electrical company facility NOVEC, that has lots of high wires for birds to use as perch and attracts thousands of starlings in fall who put on amazing displays of acrobatic flying each evening about the time the sun is setting.

Here I found an interesting grass going to seed at the edge of the roadway behind the shopping center where puddles of rain water collected earlier in the season and made ponds that had polliwogs eventually turned into little frogs living around them. 

Now the wet areas are dried up they are home to the water grasses golden brown remains and another grass that has a great prickly red seeds. 
Keith and I attended a talk recently on native grasses so on this walk I was looking to see how different they are one from the other. Grasses are a whole new world of plant life to observe and appreciate when you can find them undisturbed. This time of year is especially good since their distinct seeds are on display.  

Beyond the pavement's edge were areas of fuzzy fox tail type red topped grasses of a different type more bottle brush like and these pretty mounds of yellow flowers.

 A close up of the butterfly on a yellow flower and red grass beyond; too deep in for me to venture closer without long pants and protection from ticks.

There were white late blooming thoroughwort and various tall grasses mixed with milkweed and goldenrod. Some poison ivy at the edges too naturally a native but one I have to stay well clear of when I visit the wild. Ever present invasive common teasel. Finally some pictures of the goldenrod and the pretty yellow tickseed sunflowers which drew my attention initially.

Skipper butterfly, wasp and a bug all on the goldenrod sipping the late season nectar. 

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