Greenhouse in July

I had to laugh when I was at the Walker Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis and saw this sign. I am used to prairies and how long they take, but on this hot day in late June I was still surprised by what looked like a field of weeds. I thought: This place could use a couple thousand prairie plugs.

In the greenhouse, I’ve seen the life of the prairie plants from seed on up through their first bloom. This photo is of a little Black-Eyed Susan, blooming at about 3 inches high. After that it will go dormant until next year. Most of the plugs in the flat didn’t bloom but just went dormant.

Lupine entering dormancy

That was true of the lupine as well, that put out leaves that then dropped until they were no more than bare stems. Same with my new favorite, the wild white indigo.

I thought they were dying from the heat. It’s too hot for the plugs in the greenhouse, so Steve built a large “staging area” where we’ve moved them. One large sprinkler can cover the whole area, so no more hand watering. The bottom of the fence is fine gauge and buried in a trench– to keep the varmits out. They’ll stay there and eventually all go dormant and get covered with snow. Next year they’ll be, well, bigger!

There is, of course, always the possibility that Steve will suddenly make the decision to plant them all in our newly cleared front yard. He’s been talking about that on and off all year. As a fan of Piet Oudolf, the landscaper who did the New York City High Line, he’s been longing for a large area he could transform with “plant communities.” And now we certainly have the “paint” and the canvas. I mean, look at this planning drawing by Piet Oudolf. That is so Steve.


The cut poplars have been burned and cleared and that area is ready for prairie.

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