I’ve been the “dig” coordinator for my local Wild Ones Fox Valley Area (WOFVA) Chapter since we chartered in November 1974. It is a role that has often brought tears to my eyes knowing a natural area is going to be destroyed, but gratitude to my heart knowing we will be able to rescue at least some of the indigenous plants.
Nowadays, however, although sad, the rescues we conduct in the Fox Valley are typically for sites which have been planted with prairie the owner or new owner wants repurposed for some other use.
We recently conducted a plant rescue in a prairie that had been overcome by native Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum). It was a beautiful prairie as it was beginning its annual growth, but I could see already how the shorter, less bold plants would soon be overcome by the taller, more bold Compass Plants. Except for all the Compass Plant, it was a beautiful example of a 13 year old prairie.
As we salvaged plants in the very hot humid weather of this spring season, I thought about a dream I had about a Compass Plant. Years ago when WOFVA was a new chapter we conducted a plant rescue in a prairie next to the Aurora Medical Clinic in Oshkosh. It was intended as expansion land and had been planted with prairie seed as a temporary measure to hold the soil and look aesthetically pleasing.
We dug every weekend all summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day, in the rain and in the sunshine. During one of the digs mid-summer, I ran across a deep hole (must have been 12-15 inches deep) and there at the bottom was growing a new Compass Plant sprout. You can imagine the smile that brought to my face! That night my subconscious sent me a dream. It was a Compass Plant growing through the blacktop of the parking lot which likely would be constructed on at least some portion of this site. Wow! They really are some tough guys!
Remember the words in the refrain of Joni Mitchell’s song”Big Yellow Taxi” from the late 60s? I always think of this song when I’m participating in a plant rescue.