May 2011

Map of the zone where we will be setting up our installation on June 4 for Northern Spark

PRAIRIEFORM’s John Kamp was recently interviewed for the Walker Art Center and MNartists Blogs. Check out the brief and diverting interview, including a music video: click here. And save the date, June 4, for Northern Spark, where John Kamp and James Rojas will be constructing their Twin Cities Re-Imagined installation.

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‘Heavy Metal’ Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’) emerging in Minneapolis after a lengthy slumber (5/12/11)

One of the biggest challenges of landscape composition is sequencing, planning as much as humanly possible what the landscape will look like at given points in time throughout the season. Some plants come up early, some late; some grow at a snail’s pace until the summer heat sets in. Many of our most beloved prairie perennials and grasses fall into this latter category. The switchgrass is barely coming up, the little bluestem not even, and the indian grass just a smidge. What are ultimately strong vertical swaths of color and form in the landscape come August are, in effect, gaps in the landscape that will last until at least June. This is a large reason why we mix in cultivars and non-natives with natives: cultivar grasses such as Karl Foerster, perennials such as daylilies, and bulbs such as allium, all come up early and offer a fresh shot of green and significant form to the landscape long before many of the native prairie grasses get going. The native june grass we love, and it does come up early, but its small stature means we cannot rely on it alone to provide structure and green in spring. That all being said, switchgrass and indian grass and little bluestem offer such amazing form and movement come mid-summer that we cannot help but love them. The challenge is figuring out what to plant in their midst for those stretches in spring when they are still sleeping.

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