Ground Cover Plants and New Book

ncrescue

Anyone reading PLANTING IN A POST WILD WORLD? If so, I would love to have comments. I am quite interested in these ideas although I am not into design but mainly use natives.

I do like the concept of layering, especially using the ground cover layers. There are few plant lists in this book, so now the question is, what native ground covers exist for each type of sun exposure and moisture?

Would love to start a conversation re Carex, Luzulas, and other possible ground covers.


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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Have not seen a copy, NC, but looks a good one. thanks for the heads-up.

+om

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docmom_gw(5)

Are you looking for ground covers as weed suppressants, simple ornamentals, or would they need to tolerate foot traffic? My favorite ornamental ground cover is Virginia Creeper, a native deciduous vine with excellent wildlife value and lush green foliage that turns brilliant red in fall. Unpopular with many due to its vigorous growth habit, but will not destroy the trees or buildings it grows on, unlike the native Trumpet Vine.

I also vote for Pussy Toes or Antenarria plantagnifolia (spelling is pretty close, LOL), which forms a low, densely growing mat of pale green, fuzzy rosettes. Thrives in poor, fast-draining soil and tolerates full sun to part shade. In spring it pushes up stems with 3-10 round, soft flowers. Might tolerate some foot traffic, since it grows in the grass surrounding my sister's driveway.

I made an interesting discovery this spring that might work as ground cover in some settings. I grew Coeopsis tintoria in a large patch two years in a row. This year, it reseeded so heavily, I had a thick carpet of the basal leaves before it started to send up blossom stalks. Once those finished blooming and I pulled them out, a second flush of seeds germinated in late summer, but never put up stalks. So, those seedlings formed a beautiful mat of thick, dark green leaves that have persisted all fall. I should go check them, now that we've had frost.

I'll keep thinking.

I will look for that book.

Martha

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ncrescue

I have plenty of those plants, Martha, and I hadn't even thought of transplanting the pussy toes. Yes, they do well in sun and shade. I do want things will will allow other plants to push through to create this layered plantings that the book describes. The VA creeper usually smothers things, but I let it go where I don't have anything much that I like. (7 ac. here, so it has plenty of space. Left it on part of a deck railing.)

This is for a planting site that would not have foot traffic. Meehenia cordata was mentioned as were several Carexes and Packera Aurea, which I have and can move to the site I am thinking about.

Anyway, do check out the book. The idea of planting layers, both below and above ground, is very appealing. Not all examples are natives, but the majority are. New way to look at design, which I am not into at all, but I can appreciate the focus and glean tidbits to help me with a now sunny large site (lost large tree limbs) now full of undesirable non-natives such as that horrible stilt grass. Yuck.

I am exited to have a new project! Keep the ideas coming!



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Campanula UK Z8

Gardening in deciduous woodland, it has been useful to consider the idea of layers across time as well - starting, as you note, with those tiny early spring snowdrops, celandines, primroses, hepaticas, following on to the taller bluebells, squills, narcissi in late spring. By May/June, the whole woodland is extending upwards and the median height is around 2 feet - aquilegias, mertensias. Early summer in my woods brings the umbels out - cow parsley, chaerophyllum, angelicas and the first campanulas. July/August and the height is increasing as each wave of perennials has to overreach its successors - and naturally, by the end of summer, the tall eupatoriums, hemp agrimony, rosebay willowherbs, asters and grasses are doing their thing at around 4/5 feet tall. I do a couple of cuts a year - in different parts of the wood - an early summer cut after the bulbs (the last are camassias) and a late summer cut to encourage seeding. Bulbs have always been an essential element...although this is only my 3rd year in the wood. I have generally been a crammer and stuffer, having gardened in much smaller spaces and have never mulched since the entire surface is always planted...with something (I have learnt to be very tolerant of weediness, having acreage now). Having tiny pathways or stepping stones between plants is helpful - there is always an unfortunate amount of trampling and crushing on my crowded planting sites.

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ncrescue

I started years ago with some bulbs, but my woods become too dark for many of the plants you listed above. However, I am sure your place is lovely, and if you have done all of that in three years, you have been very busy indeed.

I will use some of your plant ideas in the "new" place that gets some sun but not the hot afternoon sun, because here in the South of the USA, it can be brutal.

Thank you for your descriptions.


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Campanula UK Z8

How long have you been working in yours, nc? Because mine is actually poplar plantation, the light levels are relatively high throughout the woods, but most of the work I have been doing is around a central clearing where I felled 7 trees to enlarge the space, a couple of wide rides and 2 of the edges (north/east) .The southern edge is a wood ant territory (as I found to my painful cost) and the west edge is still being hacked back. Yep, it is a long term/forever sort of thing. Any pics of yours? soil types? moisture?

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texasranger2

What does he mean by layering? I checked it out online, it looks interesting. Seems you are referring to covering ground in spreading plants of various heights rather than low growing plants typically thought of as ground covers for conventional gardens, you know, stuff like sedum or aguga, the spreaders that stay real low.

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ncrescue

T.Ranger, Yes. The ground covers are UNDER the next two layers. For example, in your prairie type plantings, you have tall, medium, and then the lower or ground level, which would not be showing when those other plants are up. Used rather as a filler or instead of mulch. The ground level should be plants that would allow other, taller plants, to push through.

Also, and your previous postings indicate that you know this, the root zones of these plants are at different levels.

Very interesting concepts, and I think I will attempt to use some of these ideas this coming season in that "new" spot. I am not a designer but someone who wants to use lots of natives effectively with an eye towards using plants that occur naturally in the larger area where I live. (Or would occur, if urban living hadn't taken over the land.)


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texasranger2

Two that come to mind are Fringed Sage (Artemisia frigida) and Talinum calycium. The talimum forms dense, grasslike areas from self seeding but other plants grow around and among them. Its nice because the stems are so thin that the pink flowers seem to float and they mix in well with other natives. I bought 3 plants of Helenium annum several years back at the local Farmer's Mrk and those now come up and grow everywhere around here as well forming easy masses of yellow. Between the two, I always have color from early on until late in the season. At first I was a bit alarmed with both of them and their ease in naturalizing but in the long haul, they are tidy plants that make for constant low growing color no matter how hot and dry we get. They are so easy to pull its not a threat, the helenium are always a solid mass of yellow like small bouquets. If you had a conventional garden and disliked things that spread or seed about, you'd not like either.

Fringed sage forms large low growing areas of silver that roots as it spread making for free starts. I read its not a good garden choice, its described as not well behaved compared to the ones offered in the trades, but for my wild-scape I like the look better. I also like Silver King and Valerie finnis. Silver King can be kept low and serve as a low growing ground cover in spots with harsh conditions.

There are several types of native Dyssodia aka dogweed aka Fetid Marigold. I've got two types and these bloom yellow all season long too. Its a short lived perennial subshrub thats about 4 inches tall (cute as a buttons) with woody stems at the base. The leaves are teeny tiny, plants covered in flowers that are tiny yellow and they look good with the helenuims. Everything about this plant is in miniature. I like the way they smell even if they are called 'fetid'.

Last year I planted seeds of Muhlenbergia torreyi (Ring Muhly Grass) I ordered from Plants of the SW. It forms a very fine, thick grass clump that is less than 4" tall with a haze of purple on top in fall. I'm loving them. I also like clumps of blue grama grass because its light in color compared to other grasses, looks good all year, is a short thick clump and they add a lot of texture in winter.

Zexmenia will colonize an area and will grow in either shade or sun.

Mallow----I have Monroe Globe Mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua (Desert Mallow) and both Purple and White Winecups. The winecups really spread out and form a huge tap root which will take hot or dry summers like a trooper in a less than great soil. They grow along roadsides here in the wild. The globe mallows bloom all season until they finally get frozen back and they are very tough. The leaves are evergreen at the base in winter on both of the globe mallows and they seed about. The desert mallow spreads via underground roots.

If I think of more I will get back but these are off the top of my head.

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ncrescue

Some of those I can use, I think, but others, well, my zone is too wet and cold in winter, which rots out some plants that one would think worked in this zone 7A.I am going to check out the short grasses, such as Gamma. Have a great source of native grasses and Carexes near here. Thanks.

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Campanula UK Z8

If you are not utterly wedded to using natives, you might like to look at epimediums. These are proving to be excellent groundcover in my woodland - and it is always a desperate rush ti fill any space with a desirable plant because inevitable stuff which is not remotely desirable fill leap to fill the gap. The europeans tend to be tougher, dealing with even dry shade, while the asiatics have the virtue of immense grace...but all are excellent for the type of layered look you are thinking of. And, although I hesitate to mention the obvious, geraniums, especially maculatum and maccrorhizum are also useful in a woodland situation. I also have several carex - from the ubiqutous oshimensis, through to the lovely bronzed testacea,..also ophiogon - along with snowdrops and the red-stemmed dogwood, cornus sanguinea or c.alba are one of my favourite winter vignettes. Arums, water avens, various stachys, umbellifers phlox stolonifera, hellebores, even common primula vulgaris are being utilised, along with native shade grasses, with every bit of nettle and bramble that's uprooted and cleared...but it is all a bit...contingent and experimental for this sun-loving gardener. However, you sound a lot more familiar with your woods than I am with mine so apologies for clumsy or inappropriate suggestions - still very much a novice at this.

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texasranger2

NC, one of my favorite things to do is check along the roadsides for decorative ornamental grasses, especially the small clumpers. Last fall I collected a lot of seeds of Silver Beardgrass and they are now blooming, its a fast grower and the seeds are fabulous. I most like tramping around an area marked for development. I have no qualms about 'saving' plants doomed to be scraped off. After a rain is a really good time to do it. I pulled some white asters right out of the soil with a single tug and also got a lot of really big roots that pulled straight out of a ditch of Maximillian Sunflowers and hauled them to my trunk. I took them home and neither seemed even slightly fazed by the treatment.

I dug out some local kind of carex by a new housing development and always check out the real short grasses for seed --its often good, attractive filler stuff. I had to use a shovel but I got some nice large liatris, some Okie variety. When walking about up close and personal like that, I often see little plants that if you consider what they'd look like massed in and away from the rest of the weeds, they make for some interesting very garden worthy plants, the kinds of plants you will never find seeds for in packets or even trades. I also like to collect seeds locally and sometimes it works, sometimes whats a small plant in the wild ends up growing into a weird huge monster in my soil so out it comes.

Last year I got some really nice white prairie clover seeds. I'm looking for Milkwort now. I got some Perennial Broomweed which grows into a perfectly round plant that blooms yellow in fall, is fragrant and attracts pollinators by droves. I also got a somewhat different snakeweed from wantanamara in Texas but theirs are different down there. The roadside is where you find stuff like fetid marigold.

The real fun begins when you have to get online or hit the books to ID these plants and I love a mystery like that. Most aren't offered for sale but you are pretty sure you are getting local natives and something that will do good in your conditions.

ps. Another good place to look is along railroad tracks and around dilapidated buildings in the industrial part of the city. All kinds of cool things are blooming right now out in the ugly, neglected parts of OKC.

Our average annual rainfall is 36.34 inches here. Looks like thats about 10 inches less than you guys?

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ncrescue

T. Ranger, Your post made me chuckle. I am leaning towards roadside "collecting." My name comes from the various groups of plant rescues I organized in the past, all with appropriate permission and liability papers. I cannot tell you how many land developers denied us, and the plants were all plowed away for the houses and roads. I still worry about legalities, but as I am approaching an eighth decade, maybe they won't put me in prison for "saving" plants. I still would not venture onto anyone's property, but the roadsides??? Who knows in the future?

And yes, you do get local natives that way. And the plants we collected from our rescues had a better chance of surviving in someone's garden than in that new development.

Your list sounds great. Thanks for all of the suggestions.


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ncrescue

Campanula, I love reading your descriptions. I think you have more moisture in your area than I do. I am not a purist but prefer natives, but I do have a nice stand of Epidediums which are fantastic in dry shade. Will other plants come up through Phlox stolonifera? I have both pink and white, but I don't recall seeing anything else coming up between those leaves.

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Campanula UK Z8

A lot of the umbellifers tend to have chunky root systems which will certainly push through massed planting...it is often the earlier, smaller plants that can be in danger of suffocation...although the spring ephemerals are handy in those situations. I was fairly astounded at the ability of both primula and fragaria to survive despite being totally overgrown for the entire summer until tall grasses such as dactylis, purple moor grass and sweetgrass collapsed and the brambles lost their foliage, leaving behind perfect pristine rosettes. It is a steep learning curve for me.

Yep, the woods are on former marshland but, because the greedy roots of poplar and oak are everpresent and thirsty, the soil is always drier than I would prefer- given the complete lack of irrigation other than what I can scoop out of the land-drains - a tricky performance, balancing on a steep bank with a saucepan lashed to the end of a long pole.

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ncrescue

You must be much younger than I am. That balancing thing would not be a good trick for me!

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ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado

I am not familiar with any natives in North Carolina (assuming your location from the name) but one that is native here that MIGHT work for much more wet environment would be knickinick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). The only reason I say that it might work is because it's commonly found in the high country here in Colorado, which is generally much more mesic than here on the prairie, but it would still require excellent drainage. Of course I could be wrong, and I don't think it's something you're likely to find east of Rockies so, depending on your definition of "native" you may not be interested.

I notice you mentioned grama grass as a possibility. I would suggest you source your seed from a location that gets plenty of moisture. IME, the gramas prefer much more lean and dry soil than they are likely to get in the eastern U.S. But if you get it from somewhere that it is used to more moisture, you will be more successful I think than if you get it from somewhere like Colorado where it's used to only around 15" of precipitation a year.

One more thing about grama, blue grama is a bunchgrass, so it wont generally spread. HOWEVER it has the ability to "switch" to a spreader if you regularly trim it. That's how it works as a lawn grass, the regular mowing forces it to spread rather then remain in a clump. Not sure if this is true for other gramas.

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ncrescue

Thanks for the Gamma tip. If I order it, it would be from a local place. Will see them in Jan. here in Greensboro, NC, at a big nursery show, Green & Growin'. As for the A. urva-ursi, we have something like that around here, but it mainly grows in shade...and too slowly for someone rather old, as I am. Ha, ha!

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ncrescue

Ps to Zach. Just checked that out, and it isn't listed in NC, but I know I have seen it in the mts. Perhaps too hot here in my Piedmont area? I have tried to get Gautheria started here, but it is not happy in the heat.

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texasranger2

Sideoats grama is the only other type of grama I grow. It can only take a couple of trims a year, do it too often and it dies. This is one of my favorite grasses because it puts up seed stalks so early making it decorative from early summer into winter, thick and very upright. In wet areas it will flop some and be lax. I'd guess its probably very vertical, stiff & shorter in Colorado.

I noticed how much the grasses vary in predominant types from one part of this state to the next so using local types seems like a good idea. In the mid part of the state where I am you mostly see the iconic short and tall grass prairie types, whether tall types or short types predominate depends on moisture. In eastern Oklahoma I didn't see any of these grasses, it looked like miles of some kind of sedge from the car window, it was pretty and very fine looking but decidedly different. The trees are pretty up there too..... its close to the Ozarks and the landscape changes a lot traveling east, its hilly.

When I lived in NC I was surprised at how similar the climate was to Oklahoma (minus the wind). The winters were somewhat milder and the summers not so brutally hot but it wasn't a drastic adjustment, not anything like when I lived in Georgia. That seemed like a different world.

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ncrescue

Yes, GA can be very hot. I am in the foothills, so we do get hot summers, but no where near further south.

Thanks for the grass tip.

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texasranger2

ps, I can't believe they are that strict in North Carolina or that land developers would care if someone took plants prior to clearing. I suppose when its an official group asking officially its different than a person just sort of casually walking around the perimeter among the piles of sand and stuff. I doubt anyone notices me gathering seeds in the abandoned places in the city and I've never heard of liability papers etc. Here in Oklahoma, most would just roll their eyes at the very idea of wanting anything growing out there, if someone is around and I ask permission & thats pretty much what happens or else they just laugh and say something like "take anything you want". Trespassing privately owned land is a different matter & off limits but I'd fear getting shot by some crazy redneck more than being accused of stealing 'rare' native plants or seeds. None of it is rare.

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ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado

TR, that surprises me about the SO grama! You would think it more adapted to trimming than that, having been feasted on by large herbivores for eons. You are right though, its a rather short, stiff grass here, and not nearly as common as BG.

I have found Blue grama to be virtually unkillable... At least via trimming. During the summer at the State Park I would weed whacker big areas of it just about every week, and it just kept coming back. I don't trim mine at the house since I grow it as an ornamental (which, Ncrescue, I doubt you want a small patch of trimmed lawn in your flower bed, so instead of cutting them, I would just plant them in masses for the same effect). Its also one of the favorite foods of Peter cottontail in my gardens. Funny, they leave the big 'blonde ambition' BG alone, but feast voraciously on the smaller "wild" variety.

You could be right that A.u. won't like the heat. It is a montane/foothill plant here. Not to mention, even I start to wilt once the humidity gets any higher than about 10%. Us Western folks, and our plants, are adapted to a much more arid climate lol.

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ncrescue

Yes, our state does have many rules and regulations regarding plants. There are 419 on the rare/endangered list, and people are not to share any of those without the proper permits. Of course, most gardeners don't know these rules exist, so it is a curse for me that I DO know. Again, with old age, I am beginning to be a rule breaker.

And, TRanger and Zack, I have had construction bosses tell me I could go on properties, so I have done that, as an individual, but if I were leading a group, I always got written permission, which most companies declined to give.

No wonder they used to call your area the wild west. Ha, ha!


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ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado

I know that with our rare/T&E plants, there are regulations, but for all the others no one is going to care if you collect them. Most often these are just the "weeds" that grow up between sidewalk cracks or alongside the road. People look at me funny when they see me hunched over digging through plants looking for ripe seed heads, like "what the heck is he doing?" but that's about as far as it goes.

"No wonder they used to call your area the wild west. Ha, ha!"

I have had people from out of state tell me that they grow up thinking Colorado is still just like the old, wild west. Apparently we still carry that reputation in certain circles, which, doesn't bother me in the least.

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texasranger2

Zach, the information about trimming is something I read but not anything I have experienced. I assume when so much land was made barren (especially in Texas) due to overgrazing, that is the principle involved. When I was checking out agricultural seed companies for Little Bluestem, Indian Grass etc, they gave recommendations about tillering and how often if should be grazed and when to let the grass grow. Little Bluestem is killed if cut too often.

Some people think there's 'Indians' living in T-pees here. There are several reservations but its not quite the image they seem to be thinking. Some Native American tribes get involved politically on environmental and water issues, they are responsible conservationists and we see several commercials on local TV.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

.......most of those tribes having been relocated from further east, no?

+oM

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texasranger2

Some were but the answer would be no. I'm not really up on it in a well studied way but there were cultural areas across the country. Think in terms of buffalo and the Great Plains. This map shows the major tribes, there are many smaller ones with different names. Ponca City where I grew up was named after the Ponca tribe and there are several Ponca Native Americans living there.

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texasranger2

OK, I got curious and googled it. I don't know where wantanamara is, she could probably weigh in on this but here are where the original tribes were before European settlement. You have to push the enlarge button to see it.

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greenhearted Z5a IL(5a IL)

Awesome discussion. I haven't gotten the book yet but it is on my wish list. I read an interview with the author and it really resonated with me.

I just purchased seeds for Achillea Tomentosa, Antennaria dioica, violas, Ruellia humilis and Alchemilla alpina for some ground level cover. I also purchased seeds for Corydalis lutea but afterwards read that the seed is not viable for long so I'll be thrilled if any germinates. Actually, I'll be thrilled if any of the seeds I ordered germinate!

I bought a flat of Vernoica 'Waterperry Blue' 2 years ago and it has a weaver-type habit so far and co-mingles nicely with other plants.


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ncrescue

Green, I got that Corydalis from a rescue and wondered later why I lost most of it. My friends who don't have as many leaves drop in their woodlands gave me some. It should reseed if it is happy, and you will have it forever...new plants.

Just heard recently that now the plant gurus have decided that most Achilleas are native. I always thought they were introduced.

Always interesting to read and learn new things about plants. As for the native tribes, we do have several here in NC, Cherokee being the one with the casinos. There are many smaller groups, and the Lumbees are seeking whatever designation they need to have their casinos, too. I don't gamble, unless planting plants and seeds count.


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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I think of the act of planting seeds an act of hope and faith. I guess that is close to gambling if the perspective is skewed a tad.

Great thread. I had to skim and read fast. I am working on my job and my husbands job , so I am up to my neck in sticks (building finishing 40 chairs). It is hard to come in and say anything ringing of concise thought when one is exhausted , sick of sticks and braindead.

I just got back from a 2 weeks of seed collecting. I was with people and the car was a crowded mess so I was not good at all the documenting that I needed to do. I have no qualms about stopping the car for a flash of color or interesting seed puff or inflorecens. It does make getting to where you are trying to go to hard. Because if you stop for one, and then another and then you are stopping for ALL of them.I like doing it alone, unless I can steel TX away from her house one time and hit the wichita mountains or the grasslands in west Oklahoma.

The book sounds really interesting. I might have to buy it but I need to finish what I am reading first. I do notice in my field that the layering happens in a spring to fall scenario also.the grass is leveled in winter usually if the winter rains are hard enough to weight it down and then the windflowers and crow poison and fringed cocoons bloom then we get the fireweed and winter grass and the it evolves upwards as Camp said. I get the antelope milkweeds followed by the Mexican hats and then all the summer grasses take over. Mostly invasive KR blues out front with taller little bluestem punctuating the masses. If you part the grass , you will find all sorts of plants underneath from that diminutive maroon milkweed vine, fireweed, and wood sorrel.

I am not up on TX indians. They killed them all or pushed them up into Oklahoma. I know that it was Comanche territory around in Central Texas.They are not the huge influence that they are in Oklahoma and New Mexico or even Louisiana.

I have also heard that little Bluestem is particularly vulnerable if it is grazed during early spring. The nodes are forming and they can be damaged during that time. My cows killed most of all our bluestem. It is coming back.

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ncrescue

Won, Your description of the layers is exactly what the authors are talking about. No bare ground; no mulch; just plants of various heights densely planted together, aka Mother Nature's way not to leave anything bare. And they mention that cutting Carex too low damages the crowns and makes the plants vulnerable to freeze in the winter. Although a design book, it has great tips for the average person.

If you ever have any extra Antelope milkweed seeds to spare, I would love to try some. Have seen photos. Big push on all milkweeds around here for the Monarchs.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Well, I learned something today; Wantonamara just clued me in to the fact that texasranger2 is a she! I did not know that. And of course, it makes no difference to anything.

+oM

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

OH God, I am sorry Tx, I spilled the beans. I didn't mean to, I swear it. but then you have spilled them yourself on other forms..

.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex


This layering is mother natures way only where there is ample water. Where I was in untrodden desert , I was amazed at the highly developed biotic soil crusts that were communities of soil microorganisms that took over 100 years to develop that seemed to act like a mulch. The top was not washed gravel like it was in the washes and how we xeric gardeners use in our gardens. Cryptobiotic bacterium that expanded and contracted 17 times in accordance to how wet it was. fascinating stuff. seeds had to hydro drill through it.

I find that Texas frogfruit is a good underneath ground cover that is also a pollinator. Maybe it might take over in friendlier digs.... I don't know. It has a range of Arizona to Georgia, and yes, NC too. Why di they call it TX frogfuit when it is everywhere?

Phyla nodiflora

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ncrescue

Wan, cute plant. Never heard of it. Bet it is a coastal one here in NC. Will keep my eyes open for it. Yes, these designers are trying to follow Mother Nature's patterns, which I thought I was doing, too, but I realized that I don't pay enough attention to that ground layer. Plenty of spring plants that go dormant in our summer heat. Their roots/bulbs/rhizomes are still down there, but nothing showing above ground. Well, I do have some things. Still, want to think of more possibilities.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

I too never heard of the frogfruit. Can't pass up a name like that! And while it looks a right handsome species, I'm sure it's nowhere near hardy enough for my area.

+oM

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texasranger2

Texasranger is a common name for Leucophyllum frutescens, one of my favorite native shrubs. It's also the dudes packin' colt sidearms, wearin' hats and boots but a couple of these forums turned out to be pretty vicious so I thought it never hurts to sound like a tough guy(even though I'm not) when I had to change my name from GreatPlains1 for reasons I won't go into.

wantanaMARA, a field trip to tramp & snoop around on the ground is right down my alley and I should quit living like a brown recluse spider and venture out more often past my little playground. Below is a picture caught in the act. It was a major disappointment when this turned out to be Weeping Lovegrass but across the road is where I got some seeds of Silver Beardgrass and its really cool looking growing now on my little patch of land. It grows fast and blooms heavily the first year from seed on fairly large plants, much faster than Little Blue. I'm so easily satisfied, all it takes is a bit of interesting grass & it will temp me every time.

Unbelievably, the soil was deep sandy loam on this side where I'm pilfering below, cross a two lane country road and it was sticky clay on the other side. Amazing. A guy told me there's a river that deposited the sand.

When we made that drive up to Arkansas through NE Oklahoma the ground was a sea of red as far as you could look in both directions. I've never seen so much Indian Paintbrush growing wild and I just stared and stared out the car window. Seems it would be another great choice for that lower layer. I'd imagine Texas bluebonnets would be good too.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Here I am graising in the grass with my turkish friend in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago. Why did I come back?



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texasranger2

OK guys, show us your Pilfer Pics.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

LOL.....It took a sister stealing my camera to memorialize it. NC rescue. If you want to try some , I can send you some. It grows from runners.

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docmom_gw(5)

OK, that looks like my kind of fun. But if I went seed collecting with either of you, nothing would grow in my garden. Hey, +oM, we should go on a similar field trip around the Midwest. I would need someone along who is better than me at identifying which plant is what. Look at your calendar for next October! LOL. I'm half serious, and I'm about to sign a contract for a job that gives me five weeks of vacation. I need to think of some inexpensive, but recreational ways to spend those weeks. We could meet up somewhere in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Our chances of finding natives and no one who cares if we take a few seeds should be pretty good. Ah, dreaming.

Martha

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texasranger2

Well heck, don't just leave me hanging here, what's that red grass? And more importantly, did you get any? I'm calling that picture 'The New Mexico Gleaners'. And.....Whats that tall stiff plant person #2 further back is getting seeds from? Describe please.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Docmom, you're not that far off, lol. As an old geezer (when did that happen?) on the job here, I'm both maxed-out on vacation and pre-Act 10-the wonderful packet of legislation enacted by our governor/legislature solely as a mean-spirited jab-quite a jab at that-at public employees. What all that rigamarole means is, I have an amount of vacation that nobody will ever be able to obtain going forward. They made sure of that, along with such other goodies as instant, over-night loses of 8% of our income, and much, much diminished prospects for ever achieving any financial success. In short, I got boned along with everyone else, but managed to retain my legacy vacation package, which of course, I earned by doing what's right, coming to work and staying for years and years.

The U.P. is an area where indeed one could "get away" with something, there essentially being nobody up there. But heck, I've caught folks harvesting seed right here in this city's stormwater prairie plantings. In my imagination, that seed is then being sold as "Wisconsin genotype", which is really a crock, it having simply been sourced from "somewhere" within a couple hundred miles, supposedly. Our prairie plantings are most definitely not restorations, there originally having been little to none of that particular plant commun ity present here in this formerly forested zone.

+oM

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docmom_gw(5)

+oM, Congratulations on hanging on to your vacation, at least. I wonder a bit about the "purity" of the local seed collections, since so much seed has been sold via Internet and traded between gardeners through the mail. I guess we just do the best we can. Certainly the UP must be one of the least corrupted places in the US, since so few people travel there, and even fewer try to garden there.

Martha

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Actually, there are certain idiosyncracies up there that would make for some interesting stories. People do most def. take advantage of their relative isolation to do things that wouldn't fly in "civilization". The flip side, of course, is that most likely, nobody ever knows!

Both of the guys I rented from-two different houses during two consecutive summers-were actually big into veg. gardening. The one guy-the person we rented from that first year-was on a "miner's pension", having supposedly hurt his back at work. Let's see, that first summer, he: Built a new garage, out of white pine lumber from trees he felled and milled, re-roofed his house, put up about twenty or thirty cords of split firewood, took care of that big garden, and still had some energy left over to get ready for deer season! Funny stuff, but a good guy overall. Just kind of a scammer.

+oM

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

TX. I did get some seed but I do not know what it is. IT was not bluestem. It could have been a dropseed or a panniculum. I am not good at grass ID out of my element. I do not know a switch grass from a witch grass. We were traveling fast that day trying to get to the Zuni rez from Quemado, and then back to Jimez Springs. I was not able to get much seed. Most of it had already dropped. I did not get any close up fotos of it. my focus gets thrown when I travel with my sister. It was mowed frequently and I think that made it throw stolens. the photo was north of Quemado ,. That is far west NM. I think that the stick like plant is a small mullion.

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docmom_gw(5)

+oM,

I was going to message you privately, but you aren't set up for that. That story about the miner and his "retirement" burns me to my very core. As a physician from a divorced mom of four who raised us as a social worker, I put myself through college and medical school using scholarships that I competed for and loans that I paid back every penny of before I had my first child. Now I'm divorced and the retirement we'd invested in had to go to my ex, because it required full time employment in our medical group for ownership, but I had agreed to quit work to be home with the kids, at the request of the same husband, so only he could own it. Now, at 50, I'm trying to rebuild my professional life, but can't find a group that isn't relying on Medicare fraud or poor patient care to turn a profit. I don't have enough money saved to get me through the holidays, let alone retirement. Medicare won't even look at an application for a job that costs as much as a physician, even though I could help them weed out more fraud in their system than they could need to fix their financial woes, and I already left my family behind once, to move to Wisconsin for a job that also turned out to be crooked. So, I moved back home, while still paying rent in Wisconsin, so the rental company sublets the apartment to someone who didn't want to move in for another three months, while I continue to pay the rent, without even contacting me. I've gotten and quit two other physician jobs since then, because of fraud and abuse. Oh, did I mention that my daughter is a freshman in college, but isn't eligible for any financial aid because that is based on my income taxes from last year? Then I hear your story of some lazy, no-good bum who thinks it's fair to let you and me and the rest of the legitimate tax payers take care of him for the rest of his life. Uuuurrrrgggghhhh!

I could shoot myself. All I ever did was follow the rules, work hard, and do what I was told was right, make those around me happy, stand up for the weak guy, and point out problems to those in charge. But, those in charge don't want to fix what they are profiting from. I refuse to relinquish my belief that people are supposed to treat one another fairly. And it is still true for me that by giving to others you are blessed in ways that are immeasurable. But, those immeasurable so don't pay rent or buy groceries. So, I'm destined to work until the day I die, while others get away with barely working at all. I've decided that the moral of the story is, there are no morals. Happy Holidays.

Martha

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Campanula UK Z8

no justice either.

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texasranger2

docmom, if it makes you feel any better I work 7 days a week, self employed. I don't take holidays or weekends off, in fact I worked yesterday (Thanksgiving). I don't get paid until a job is done and feel pressured as if I am loosing precious time if I take a day off because it delays the job completion. For all that, I have no retirement, no insurance and no real money in the bank. The work I do is extremely labor intensive, a difficult concept which is hard to get across to clients living in a world geared toward the attitude that "the entitled customer deserves to quickly get what he wants exactly how he wants it done" along with speedy results, mass production and ease in returning an item if its not just what they had in mind. The art work I do is tedious, hands on from the bottom up and very detailed so to keep the price reasonable, I work extra long hours to get a check finally on each job completion ASAP.

We have a friend who got money from his family, he has never really worked at all to speak of since in his eyes, his father's family were "somebody" as he likes to brag and that makes him above doing common 'menial' labor like average people, those who aren't from families who are somebodies. Unskilled labor is all he would be able to do (if he ever did work that is and if it weren't beneath his status to do so) but he is 'special'. Decades ago, he was in the army and got a discharge right after completing basic training. He receives all the health benefits of military because it was an honorable discharge. Can you believe that? He brings this up as if it he earned something which makes him both responsible and a smart cookie having gotten his health care situation taken care of "unlike some less responsible people". He spends his time traveling and combing through thrift stores and loves to show off his many finds. His inherited house is stuffed so full of stuff that he had to build a second structure on his property to increase his storage space for more stuff to buy. He has a tendency to strut about as if all this financial security is a result of his own doing and because he is "a Taylor of the Taylor family". I have to leave the room when he gets going on this.

A couple months ago he was on my case saying he was worried about me because "all you do is work at your desk all the time or work in the garden and you never travel or have fun".

Actually working in the garden is my fun and I love the other work I do. I hate traveling by the way. The criticism, and it was definitely a judgmental criticism laying under a thin disguise of worry, gave me a sense of outrage and I let him know, loose cannon that I am.

But, would I trade places with this guy? Not in a million years. In spite of everything I do love the work I do, being self employed and gardening.

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docmom_gw(5)

Tex,

Thanks. It really does help to know that there are people out there with similar values who believe in hard work and responsibility. I'm not glad you are in a tough situation, but glad you understand. I do worry about what will happen to us if we get sick and are unable to work, though.

We have gotten way off topic, but Wisconsitom's comment just hit me in a tender spot and my dam broke.

Martha

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texasranger2

docmom, seems like I am always ready and willing to go off on some tangent, nearly every topic reminds me of some other topic and I can wind off the spool at the drop of a hat. I've gone off topic so many times on GW at this point I should have named myself 'OffTopic2'. Your story immediately brought my story into center focus in my easily distracted head, it doesn't help that I'm still steaming just a tad over getting called on the carpet for not having fun and working too much by that person of all people.

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ncrescue

Hello, all, and happy belated Thanksgiving. No apologies for going off topic. On this forum, we are all interested in Mother Nature, more specifically native plants but not exclusively, as some have noted. Rather nice to have a place to vent. (Saves other relationships.) Been married to the same one for almost 56 years, sometimes a blessing, sometimes not. We all make decisions we have to live with, and life is WORTH living. I think the miracle of watching seeds turn into plants, and having a part in it, gives me joy, now that my children are full grown and don't need care, nor advice, even if I want to give it. Ha, ha! I am thankful for my discovery, late in life, of the miracles of plants.

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docmom_gw(5)

Certainly plants contribute hugely to my mental stability, such as it is.

Martha

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Well, I should point out in my little tale of the U.P, scammer-he was ripping off the mining company, not you and I. And the mining company....well, what do you know about such enterprises? I'll offer a hint: Rape a section of God's green earth, go bankrupt and then, using every trick in the book, reformulate under some new guise and do it all over again somewhere else.

No, I don't cotton to anyone ripping anyone else off, but this was not a story about "welfare cheats" or any other such overused axiom. This was just a guy who had gamed the system, that system itself being a monumental scam of epic proportions.

Now, since we seem to have a high tolerance for OT stuff, I'd like to offer that our nation's current and apparently endless fixation with militarization is producing an incredible new generation of folks who feel supremely entitled. Yes, I'm talking about all the "heroes" coming back from service. Now don't get me wrong. Of course there's good people sprinkled in amongst this giant cohort, of course there are those who fully have earned our admiration. But each and every one a hero? Does that not make the term meaningless? And since I've run across a good many of these folks, I know whereof I speak. These people feel the world owes them everything from here on out. Way to go (again), America!

+oM

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Campanula UK Z8

Here in the UK, our govt. is waging a vicious and hateful war against disabled people - from the horrid propaganda that they are wasters (moochers, is I think, the US equivalent) to a total removal of safety nets, implying these welfare payments are a gift and not something which we have, all of us, paid for. People are dying here - literally, starving to death Terminally ill patients are declared -fit to work - by unqualified, outsourced corporations.And the shame, the stigmatisation and even worse, if you do not have a recognisable disability such as a wheelchair...and where there was once sympathy and compassion, ordinary decent people are eyeing up what their neighbour has (or not - there will still be judging). There is no justice and no fairness but inequality doesn't reside in the actions of individual people but in systems of power...which, ironically, remain entrenched by embracing the collective, the corporation...the very co-operative sense which we, the people, are being pushed further away from, breaking down into ever smaller isolated, suspicious categories when, more than ever, we need to make common cause with each other.

But you know all this, Docmom. Courage.

Any further OT and we will be falling off the edge...but a thought - I totally believe that gardening is the most egalitarian hobby in the world - everyone can do it. I can think of no limiting factors which rule out the utter magic of sowing a seed.

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ncrescue

"...the utter magic of sowing a seed." Well put, Campanula. Wednesday night a group here is getting together for our holiday meeting, and the focus is seed sharing. We are trying to get everyone interested in growing from seed, even if all they have is a patio or deck off their apartments. So many thing are now tissue cultured. Seed growing increases diversity and usually strength in the species. And it is just plain fun and joyful. I will start my winter sowing projects soon.

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Campanula UK Z8


Have a great meeting.There is another great thing about seed saving and swapping - apart from all the obvious stuff like being with friends, sharing, costing nothing and so on. Until I started saving and swapping seeds, I had experienced so-so germination and like most gardeners, blamed myself. Using fresh seeds was revelatory for me - quite an amazing difference...I don't wish to see seed merchants going out of business but I truly cannot say enough good things about sharing seeds we have collected ourselves.

I also bought one of those little jewellers loupe type magnifiers - with a built in light, it magnifies seeds by 40 -60x - my god, it was astonishing - so different, intricate, brilliant - rehmannia actually sparkle like faceted gems. This, more than anything, emphasised the potential of the living seed - not just specks of hopeful DNA, these little packages were architectural, quite magnificent. perfectly formed - all the unique beauty of the mature plant reflected in exquisite miniature. Forgive my getting carried away - my little $10 'gizmo' revolutionarised seed sowing for me.

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ncrescue

I also use a gizmo to separate "wheat from chaff, so to speak. Wish they had that for people. Ha, ha!

I even bought a microscope camera to use in a presentation for the group...shows up on a large screen so that ALL can see. Fun! Spending my kids inheritance.

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texasranger2

Working in the garden is one of the only things that takes my mind off irritating stuff like this because I get lost in the sheer activity of the doing. Crud has a tendency to roll around in my head like a marble (as in mental torture), sometimes it takes an hour or so for the repeating of the thing to shut down but 99% of the time it finally does when I'm gardening, what a relief when that finally happens. Its like when an aspirin gets rid of a bad headache and you didn't notice when it happened, it just doesn't hurt anymore so you forgot about it.

The word 'hero' has become trivialized but so has the word 'angel' and many more I could come up with, like 'gentleman' for example. We are masters at destroying our language and what once needed only one word now needs paragraphs to clarify meanings.

The emotionalism intended with overusing these words that goes on these days is what I refer to as "The wrinkled forehead syndrome". That look my mother used to use when she was working on us to make us feel bad for something as kids. Sometimes I refer to it as "Nice but not nice", people who want to look caring or good but who really have ulterior motives. I've been 'put in my place' by them more than once.

Much of this sort of stuff comes across like emotional manipulation but when the water works are turned up with people crying on TV while being interviewed is when I have to push the mute button, there is only so much sap a body (me) can listen to without gagging and feeling like a mean spirited person lacking in sympathy. Public sympathy seems to be the big thing to grab and I have run plum out in many areas.

On the other hand, real is real and it easy enough to tell the difference between someone deserving real honor as opposed to blanketing whole groups or taking on too many koodoo's for any little effort put out.

So much of whats is called being a hero is just common decency or doing whats necessary in a situation. It is presented in a way that seems intended to pull the heart-strings or is whining or shining the spotlight on someone to give them airs. So no, I don't think all soldiers are heros, the word is over-used. True heros make up a small minority in real life.

Angels. This overused word gets on my nerves just as much. People are not angels. Angel means messenger and are heavenly bodies, not earthly men or women [either dead or alive]. Another word for something very specific rendered trivial and silly.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Could not agree more, TR. And while I don't want to be that guy-the one that does, as Camp intimates-takes this whole thing off the edge of the table, I do want to agree with her and lament the fact that the same dynamics are at work in this nation as well. And the demonization and scape-goating of whole groups of people for political gain.....well, I'll leave it to you, dear readers, to interpret who and what I'm referring to there.

Take your loupes sometime and have a gander at lichens and such. A whole world in miniature waiting for exploration!

+om

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texasranger2

Scapegoating the entire police because of a few bad ones is the example that popped in my head reading your post but you might be referring to something else.

This story on the local news was refreshing to hear this week, sounded like a bit of sanity to me.

I'm finally going to go out and clean up after the ice storm this week and loose myself in the activity. Keeps me sane.

http://www.okwu.edu/blog/2015/11/this-is-not-a-day-care-its-a-university/

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Yes, I'm afraid I had something very different in mind. As to bad police work, while everyone seems to be putting the blame on the victims, I think the key factor that has changed is the proliferation of cameras, ie. cell phones everywhere. Our chief of police wrote a ridiculous feature article in the local paper wherein he managed to spread the blame in all directions but one....the cops on all this film doing utterly horrible things. Looks like we'll have to agree to disagree on that one, Tex. What's more, I've had exceedingly unpleasant and uncalled for situations develop in relation to these same uh, public servants a number of years back, when one of my sons was having difficulty in his life. No, he was not a perfect kid, but that pales beside the idiocy and over the top aggression displayed by LEO. Of course there's good ones too, but all these clips, of an unarmed kid getting shot 16 times, etc, ad nauseum aren't lying.

+om

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Campanula UK Z8

oooh lichen! And moss. I signed up for a course in botanical drawing (never been so bored in all my life - lasted no time at all)...and although I totally failed to see the point in spending 3 hours faithfully rendering a leaf, I definitely got the looking hard part - worth the cost of the course, in fact.. My eyes have been crap for years but I sort of enjoyed viewing the world through a vague comforting haze (don't drive and ride a bike at about 3 miles an hour) - it was a complete asset for ignoring weeds and such...and I have never been one of those gardeners who swoops on a single bloom...but using a magnifying glass, looking at minutiae was very satisfying...quite literally eye-opening. I almost considered getting spectacles...but too much reality...perhaps not.

Yep - better a camera than a gun - a bottom-up non-violent response to counter profoundly dehumanising propaganda...the more inequality in a system, the more instability.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

It doesn't help when many police chiefs are having a training session given by Israeli police trainers. They are learning to see civilians as the enemy. The fact that many police are vets and come from a stance of civilians are the enemy only reinforces this . Then stick the strength of the Policemen's Union in the mix and it is a perfect storm. City governments are scared to hold them accountable when things go askance.. I have friends who are police . they are getting to retire soon, and they are GLAD to be out of there. Three separate police officers have said to me that they are sometimes frightened of the young guys and to expect it to get worse. This is being said by old policemen in "enlightened" Austin, a city that tazes grandmothers.


I have a son like your's Tom. He has just been suspended from a good paying job because of loss of drivers license. This is 6 years after the incident. We thought things were being taken care of.. The number of hoops and fines and classes that is never ending is amazing. This is just the drama for this week. Getting employed in his situation has been a hard nut and then to loose it is heartbreaking. I am trying to get him to write an article on it and back his story up with a hoard of other examples at arms reach. It is awful when Boys are targeted as a class to marginalize from society. My friends child is still paying at 36yrs old for the 1/2 joint he had in his pocket at 17. This world is cruel. I think the miner might have a "back" story to tell that might show his company as jerks. Vindictive entitlement like that often comes because of a reason. I fight to keep my son in a positive mind set. It is hard, often a loosing hope.



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texasranger2

I absolutely agree with the part played by relentless new coverage, cameras and cell phones everywhere. It serves as a double sword to encourage a lot of sympathy but it also reveals real corruption making it seem as if a whole group is corrupt (or that a whole group is victimized for that matter). Sometimes it seems like certain people want their 15 minutes of fame nowadays since everyone is capable of becoming a star in the movie of life. I can't help but believe that many of these homegrown mass shooters are drawn by the idea of fame and the fact that the whole world will notice and hear them.

I've seem some videos that look as if people are trying to bait the police into getting worked up and loosing it. Maybe I am seeing it wrong but I don't think so in all cases. Its like a kid will taunt a cop, act completely uncooperative and he's got that cell phone held up in the air, as if attempting to make a U-tube hit to play the poor victim in. We used to respect police when I was a kid and no one would have acted so rude or uncooperative like I see on these videos.

I liked what that guy Dr. Piper wrote. I agree with the idea of self absorbed and narcissistic people who get their feelings hurt over any perceived challenge, whoever or whatever makes them feel bad is tagged with a name like 'bigot' or 'hater' with they themselves being the innocent victim. Many people seem to think freedom is equal to complete lack of restraint and that they live in a country where no one should not have any right to hold them to account for anything no matter what. This type of thing is completely out of hand.

The laws are becoming more and more oppressive due to groups like M.A.D.D. (not to single them out, it just comes to mind) and 'The War on Drugs' that push the idea that more laws and penalties will solve these problems. Current events are always connected to the events preceding them. Problems like this need to be looked at as a progression of events from a historical perspective to make any sense. You can go back to the 1950's, 60's and 70's to mark the progression of events along with popularizing and accepting certain philosophical ideas. People now seem oblivious or uninterested in how these things connect and focus mainly on the results we have to live with because most people seem oblivious to history. Seems many only live in the present moment concerning any given crisis or personal experience as if history is irrelevant. The tendency is just get outraged or to come up with overly simplistic solutions like fixing 'the gun problem' or adding stiffer laws. Not that we need more guns mind you, I'm no NRA fan.

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Campanula UK Z8

The one bad apple analogy really doesn't work for me when the entire edifice, from top to bottom, does absolutely nothing except deny, protect and cover up for these supposedly anomalous 'bad apples'.- I have one of those sons too

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

I have no disagreement with anything you folks have written here since my last screed. I thank you kind people for uh...being kind people. After watching the news last night, kindness is in short supply. And devalued in modern society.

+oM

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docmom_gw(5)

Hear, hear! Kindness is definitely in short supply. I'm a huge fan (and performer) of random acts of kindness. I think it could have an immeasurable effect on the world if we all decided to actively pursue an attitude of selfless, generousity and kindness. I cry when I think of the thousands of refugees across Europe and the Middle East, and then look around at my warm couches, spare bedroom, safe basement. I'm basically penniless, but I have space and wish desperately that I could open my home to some of them.

I've approached homeless people and offered to put them up for a night and do their laundry, but none has taken me up on it. So many of that population are suffering from mental illness, so getting them help is quite complicated.

Part of how I got where I am now is that I took care of a "friend" and her children as they struggled to get away from an abusive, alcoholic husband/father. I helped her pay lawyer fees and provided housing for them for far longer than I should have. But, those kids were far better off out of the original situation. I still consider it money well spent, and I would have been fine if I hadn't lost my job. And who expects a hospice physician to run short of work with our population aging as it is.

Gardening is definitely my haven. When I'm out in the yard, my soul is calm, my mind is clear and I can focus on the timelessness and miracle that is nature. And it is amazing what you can see when you are on your knees and examine the smaller parts of the world. I'm going to go there now, instead of opening the envelopes I just received from the IRS.

Martha

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