Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A lawn-to-native plant garden conversion

Emilene Leone explains the step-by-step process to creating her “home gone wild in suburbia,” with phenomenal photographs of the flowers, birds, and insects that visit her native plant garden in Davenport. -promoted by Laura Belin

For the last two summers, I have been working on converting large sections of my home’s yard to native plant space. I’ve been documenting the process both on my own Facebook page, as well as on Casa Leone Gardens. I was invited to write a post about my project for Bleeding Heartland’s wonderful “Wildflower Wednesday” series, and I’m so happy to do so!

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A tour of spring flowers in southeast Iowa

Elizabeth Marilla is a mental health worker, writer, picture taker, hiker, and mom living in rural southeast Iowa. Connect with her on instagram @iowa.underfoot. -promoted by Laura Belin

I was born and raised in Iowa, but moved away at 18 without having learned much of anything about the natural history of Iowa, the history of Euroamerican settler colonialism in Iowa, the history and modern day presence of Indigenous/Native communities in Iowa, many members of whom are among the most passionate protectors of Iowa’s natural resources. Remember, for example, the Meskwaki Nation’s early leadership fighting the portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline running through Iowa, long before broad public attention was drawn to the project.

While hiking this spring I noticed that many parks and preserves are named for or include plaques honoring the mostly white landowners who either sold or gifted the land to the public or the trust, but most feature no education about who was here before that. The Johnson County Conservation board has recently expressed willingness to initiate a project to support learning and unlearning around Iowa history at the sites they manage and on their website, which I hope will center Indigenous voices.

Many of the southeast Iowa sites pictured below are located on lands held by the Meskwaki and Sauk Nations at the time of Euroamerican colonial settlement, as is my own home. One very small way to initiate some learning might be to cross-reference your own map with this one, created by the Historic Indian Location Database project, when visiting Iowa parks and preserves.

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Make Iowa great again: Yes, we can

Paul W. Johnson wrote this piece in 2017, when Republicans in the state legislature passed a budget bill that defunded Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and eliminated it from the Iowa Code. Governor Terry Branstad signed the bill and left in place the sections redirecting funding away from the Leopold Center to the newer, corporate-friendly Nutrient Reduction Center at ISU. But he item-vetoed the section that would have removed all code references to the Leopold Center. Consequently, the center still exists but with no funding for research and education on sustainable agriculture. -promoted by Laura Belin

Aldo Leopold was born in Burlington, Iowa, in 1887. He died in 1948 while fighting a grass fire on his neighbor’s farm. He and his wife, Estella, are buried in a cemetery in Burlington. Aldo Leopold is known today as the father of the wilderness idea, the father of wildlife management in the U.S., and the father of the land ethic. The land ethic encourages us humans to understand that we belong to the community of all life on earth and that we need to learn to love and respect it.

“Conservation means harmony between men and land. When land does well for its owner and the owner does well by his land: when both end up better by reason of their partnership, we have conservation. When one or the other grows poorer, we do not.” -Aldo Leopold  

That is why we established the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in 1987.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A DIY bee house using native prairie plants

Patrick Swanson interrupts the winter hiatus of Bleeding Heartland’s Iowa wildflowers series with some lovely pictures and useful tips. -promoted by Laura Belin

Here we are in the deep throes of winter. A wistful melancholy arises from memories of greener and more colorful landscapes, and the dark days and cold dampness of our climate this time of year seems to cage us indoors, leaving us restless with cabin fever.

But the winter landscape has its own serenity, and those adventurous enough to face the chill are often rewarded by sights and sounds unique to the season. 

Last year about this time, I posted an essay here with pictures from a winter snowshoe trek depicting how the new-fallen snow transformed plants on my prairie into more magical, snow-capped versions of themselves.

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