Tuesday, February 28, 2017


The Demonstration Prairie was planted by the Dane County Parks Division in 1997 when the Lyman F. Anderson Agriculture & Conservation building was first built.  The plot has average moisture typical in a mesic prairie.  Currently, the prairie contains 34 plant species native to mesic prairies in Dane County (1 grass and 33 forbs). The forbs are primarily mid (16 species) to late (11 species) season bloomers, with a mix of heights and colors. Early season species (6) have been added to balance the mix. The pale purple coneflower is threatened in Wisconsin. All of the wild flowers are attractive to insect pollinators and some attract birds. Each spring the prairie is burned to stimulate new growth and help control weeds. 

Seed production beds, located at the southwest corner of the Extension building, are planted with over 100 Sisyrinchium campestre (Blue-eyed Grass) seedlings. Seeds from the plantings will be harvested each Spring and planted in numerous Dane County Parks.  Plans for 2019 include the production and installation of 4 boxes with hardware cloth covering to protect the seed production beds.  We will be adding Viola pedatifida (Prairie Violet) seedlings to one of the beds in the summer of 2019.

In 2018, the prairie was expanded to the sidewalk on the north side.  The expanded site was planted with sowed seeds from the existing prairie in the fall of 2018.

Jane Graham and Diane Amundson are co-leaders for the Demonstration Prairie. Jane has served as Team Leader for the Demonstration Prairie since 2016.  She is an active member of The Prairie Enthusiasts, and an assistant land steward volunteer at the Smith-Reiner Drumlin Prairie near Cambridge where she is involved in remnant seed collection, planting seeds, documenting seeds sources and planting locations, eradicating invasive species, assisting in plant and bird survey, germinating prairie lily and prairie violets seeds, and gathering data for the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project.  In 2015, Jane was recognized as the Prairie Enthusiast of the Year for the Empire-Sauk Chapter.  Jane is also certified as a Wisconsin Master Naturalist and she participates in the Plant Dane Volunteer to Grow Native Plants for Schools and Community.  Since 2011, Diane has been involved with the Teaching Garden and has grown vegetables and flowers for the annual Plant Sale held at the Extension each May.  In 2015, Diane served as the coordinator of plantings for UW Extension exhibits at Farm Technology Days.  In 2017 Diane joined the Ice Age Trail Alliance's mobile skills crew working on new sections of the trail.  Diane has held the position of Biological Sciences Lab Technician at the US Dairy Forage Research Center since 1988. 

Demonstration Prairie Team
Through hands on experience and sharing knowledge with other master gardeners interested in prairies, team members learn about:
-          Native prairie plant attributes and identification
-          Native prairie plant care requirements
-          Insects and birds attracted to prairie plants and host plants
-          Collecting, drying, cleaning, and germinating plant seeds
-          Managing a seed production bed
-          Resources on Wisconsin prairies

One team is responsible for the care and maintenance of both the Demonstration Prairie and Rain Garden, under the leadership of Jane Graham and Diane Amundson.  To join this team, contact Karen Allenstein.  2019 continuing team members include:

Deb Goplin 3rd Year
Kathleen Luedtke 2nd Year
Janis Noonan 2nd Year
Patricia O'Connor 2nd Year
CarolTroyer Shank3rd Year

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