|Another agricultural field (4 acres) is on the south side
of Pleasant Valley Road, adjacent to the wetland. Because it
was essentially in the "valley" of the creek, we designated
this Valley Prairie. Although it is predominantly mesic to wet-mesic
in character, it rises sharply towards Pleasant Valley Road,
and in this area it is dry-mesic in character. The roadcut itself,
which we are treating as part of the prairie, has dry prairie
This CRP field was treated with glyphosate in May 2002. The
herbicide was very effective and by mid-summer the vegetation
was all dead and brown. In July (on a very hot day!) we burned
the field. After it greened up, it was treated again with
glyphosate. In one part of the field, after the first herbicide
treatment, a large population of nutsedge (Cyperus spp.) developed.
To eliminate this, the second treatment consisted of a mixture
of glyphosate and Permit (halosulfuron-methyl; Montsanto),
an herbicide effective against this perennial sedge. A third
herbicide treatment was carried out in early September.
In addition to herbiciding the field, we also cut all the
undesirable shrubs and trees along the roadside. Because the
roadcut itself escaped the plow, the roadside was a jumble
of invasive woody plants, mixed in with wild parsnip, sweet
clover, and other weeds. A few bur oaks that had become established
along the roadcut were retained. Removing the woody vegetation
permited us to seed the roadbank with dry prairie species.
In November 2002 this field was planted by volunteers with
a mixture of over 130 species. Not all species were planted
in every part of the field. The field was divided into dry
prairie, mesic prairie, and wet prairie areas, and species
adapted to each of those habitat types were used.
In 2003 this field, now a fascinating weed patch, was mowed
three times. Particular weed problems were wild parsnip, wild
carrot (Daucus carota), and mullein. In some areas where good
prairie plants were visible, handpulling instead of mowing
was used. The roadcut was particular weedy and was mowed with
a brush cutter.
In 2004 (second growing season) this field was mowed once
in May and after that only hand weeding was done. By mid-summer
a lot of very nice prairie plants were visible. Although there
were still some major problems, including several areas with
large amounts of wild carrot, wild parsnip, and several nonnativeperennial
grasses, there was also excellent development of prairie forbs,
including several species that thrive in wetter habitats:
great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), cardinal flower
(Lobelia cardinalis), blue vervain (Verbena hastata), boneset
(Eupatorium perfoliatum), and swamp thistle (Cirsium muticum).
Other interesting species that flowered in the second growing
season were butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), New England
aster (Aster novae-angliae), gaura (Gaura biennis), ox-eye
sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), rough and prairie blazing
stars (Liatris aspera, L. pycnostachya), prairie cinquefoil
(Potentilla arguta), black- and brown-eyed susans (Rudbeckia
hirta, R. triloba), stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida), and
golden Alexanders (Zizia aureus).
The butterfly milkweed (photo below) was interesting to us,
because this was the first location at Pleasant Valley Conservancy
that we were able to establish that species. For some reason
it is doing very well in the Valley Prairie, with a few flowering
plants in the second growing season (2004). By 2006 it was
widespread in this prairie (at least 20 separate locations
counted). Also in 2006 we had white wild indigo, Baptisia
alba, in flower.