A new wild flower appeared on the west facing hillside at our hunting lodge this April. Red Indian Paintbrush is the first of what I’d hoped would be many native wildflowers I planted almost two years ago. Then last month Black-Eyed Susan, Wild Bergamot and Gray Headed Coneflower appeared.
Obviously, this has nothing to do with attracting mallards in the fall but there is a connection.
Two years ago, our creek bottom stayed too wet to plant milo for the waterfowl season to follow. Frustrated and looking for something to do, I worked with a private lands conservationist from the Missouri Department of Conservation to develop a plot of native wildflowers. It’s a long process taking anywhere from 18 months to two years. First, you have to kill off the cool season grasses by mowing, spraying and burning. Then you purchase the seed (available only certain months of the year), broadcast it between September and April with the intention of placing it on the ground with 60% soil contact. Yes, 60% is what the biologist advise. No more. No less. Then it’s up to the winter weather to freeze and thaw the ground, expanding, contracting. Depending on weather and water they will hopefully germinate and start to bloom in April through the fall.
In addition to looking pretty, native wildflowers support pollinators, which have been in decline. Pollinators, like butterflies and bees, play an important role in private and commercial food production.
My stepfather passed away fourteen years ago. Neither he nor I could have anticipated the random chain of events that happened when he introduced me to duck hunting when I was 11. That simple gesture has turned into a lifetime passion for hunting and conservation, that now includes me growing native wildflowers in my 60s.
When our MHHF members take a weekend to introduce a half dozen young people and their families to hunting, conservation and getting outdoors, we have no idea what interests, passions, hobbies or potentially, careers will germinate from that first experience.
Thank you for your support.