What else does irrigation-free look like six years later?

The first irrigation-free landscape, six years on and looking wild and amazing and just as it should
The first irrigation-free landscape, six years on and looking wild and amazing and just as it should

Just another photo from our visit to the first irrigation-free landscape six years later. It was so fascinating to see how the landscape had taken on a life of its own, and how the wild and exuberant self-sowing plants had mixed in with the more stay-in-place cultivated ones. There were even new arrivals to the landscape that weren’t weeds, something we had never seen before. Anyway, happy Friday.

-John Kamp

On pokey prairie plants and sequencing

‘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.