Color naming

Small Steuben County Plot Comes Alive With Color This Spring | News Sun

FREMONT – In a small, small patch of sandy land just east of Fremont, almost on Indiana’s border with Michigan, a bit of Mother Nature’s magic is on display right now.

Badger Barrens, a 13-acre nature reserve, is in bloom right now, blanketed in a layer of blue, white and purple lupines. Tall plants are native to Steuben, LaGrange, and Elkhart counties. But few places in the state put on a lupin show like this.

Tens of thousands of lupine plants cover the small sandy meadow and have transformed this patch of land into an oasis of color.

“It looks like someone just covered the ground with a giant blue quilt,” said Fred Wooly, a Steuben County naturalist. “Have you heard that big things come in small packages? This is Badger Barrens Nature Reserve.

Lupines once dominated the landscape here, but over time these plants have been pushed aside as agricultural fields have taken over. Wooly said he heard stories that less than 100 years ago — in the 1930s and 1940s — spring lupines still dominated the sandy fields that dot the landscape here in northeast Indiana.

But these plants are not there by chance. They are here thanks to the work of Blue Heron Ministries, the Steuben County-based environmental ministry of the Church of the Lake Presbyterian Chapel. Its ongoing mission is to “preserve creation and restore the earth to its natural, native ecology through good and purposeful environmental stewardship”.

Blue Heron staff and volunteers began work on the Steuben County field in 2008. It was a dry, sandy agricultural field. Although this type of sandy soil is not perfect for growing corn and beans, lupins love it. And once upon a time, the last recorded badger in the area, hence its name.

Nate Simons, Founder and Executive Director of BHM, his staff and a group of volunteers removed invasive plants such as shrubs, small autumn olive trees, mulberry, honeysuckle and multiflora rose. They then reseeded the land with native plants, such as short prairie grasses and lupins, harvested from the seeds of small pockets of surviving plants found in LaGrange and Elkhart counties. Then they sat and waited to see what would happen.

Today, with the lupins in full bloom, even Simons said he could never have imagined Badger Barrens would end up looking as good as he is. Simons even said he didn’t know of any other sand prairie restoration project that turned out as good as this one.

“It’s the kind of place lupines are supposed to grow. We just put the seed, it germinated and spread like crazy. The place is just amazing,” he said.

Lupins are one of the first wildflowers to bloom each spring, providing pollinators like bees with a reliable, early food source.

But as beautiful as lupines are, lupine flowers are short-lived. Simon said he expects the plants to start to fade by the first week of June and disappear by the middle of the month. Yet every spring, even he is impressed by the sight of tens of thousands of blooming lupins.

“It’s such a beautiful place, oh my God, it really is,” Simons said.

To visit Badger Barrens, travel east on State Road 120 from Fremont. Turn north on CR 925E. Continue to route 100 Lake Anne and turn west. Slowly drive up the gravel road to where it curves and safely exit the road. Respect the tranquility and privacy of local owners.

To support the management of Badger Barrens, please send donations and/or contact Blue Heron Ministries at 2955 West Orland Road, Angola, Indiana 46703, or visit www.blueheronministries.org.