Thursday, 22 December 2011

Madison Arboretum

One of the first days of August this year I visited The University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison.There is so much to see here and very excited, I stopped already directly at the entrance to the park at a colorful prairie planting with Yellow Coneflower, Ratibida pinnata, Sweet Coneflower, Rudbeckia subtomentosa, Culver's Root, Veronicastrum virginicum and Pale Indian Plantain, Arnoglossum atriplicifolium, among other prairie species.

Steve Glass is telling me about the Curtis Prairie

At the Visitor Center I met Steve B. Glass who showed me around and was my excellent guide the whole day. Steve is as restoration ecologist responsible for the restoration planning and the fire management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum where he has been active in all phases of prairie restoration since the late 80s.

Steve showed me first the Native Plant Garden and then we walked out on the Curtis Prairie and studied the dynamics of prairie vegetation. My guide turned out to be a skilled prairie ecologist and since he was both pleasant and accommodating, we had a very fruitful day in the great outdoors.

Afterwards, Steve gave me even a bag full of interesting material and a book on plants at Madison Arboretum, which I had great pleasure from.

A colorful prairie planting already at the entrance to the Arboretum.

Yellow Coneflower and Pale Indian Plantain at the entrance

Eupatorium purpureum in the dry shade beneath a Bur Oak

Purple Coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea, at the Curtis Prairie

Curtis Prairie is the oldest restored prairie in North America and occupies about 60 acres of land. It is a deep-soil tallgrass prairie with a huge diversity of prairie plants. In July and August the Liatris, Monarda and Echinacea provide for the greatest color display and in early fall it is the grasses and the sumacs who excel in the most brilliant fall colors. The Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra, grows scattered almost everywhere on the Curtis Prairie and spreads by underground runners. In autumn the leaves turn deep scarlet red with less orange tints compared to Rhus typhina

Ironweed and Yellow Coneflower at the edge of the Curtis Prairie

The Curtis Prarie with Liatris and Eryngiym yuccifolium 

Along the path to Greene Prairie we passed through a small woodland with dry, sandy soil. Here we found many drought tolerant species as Plantain-leaved Pussytoes, Antennaria plantaginifolia, and the Silver Sage, Artemisia ludoviciana, growing among the patches of Smooth Sumac.

Big leaves of Prairie Dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum at Greene Prairie 

Steve discoverd a hybrid between Compass Plant, Silphium laciniatum and Prairie Dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum with intermediate leaves growing at Greene Prairie

Nodding Onion, Allium cernuum, along the track

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Grasses shines in autumn and winter

Molinia arundinacea 'Cordoba' in the citypark of Laholm in November

Autumn is the time when grasses step up and outshines all withered perennials and former blooming companions in the border. Whenever you place a plant in the garden, you should always think about how the sunlight wanders around during the day. Almost all plants are most beautiful when they get the sun's rays from behind, but the grasses shines more than any others when backlit.

Plant thus the ornamental grasses where you can see them illuminated from the place where you usually find yourself in the garden, for example from your patio.

Here are some good grasses for autumn color, but there are plenty of others too. The Tussock grass, Deschampsia cespitosa, is one of the best grasses to capture the sun's glowing rays; however this grass needs heavy soils with a good water storage capacity to survive more than some few years.

Molinia arundinacea can withstand drought better, but prefers moist soils. Andropogon gerardii and Schizachyrium are drought specialists and can handle very difficult situations without any rain if they are well established.

Molinia arundinacea in Sichtungsgarten Weihenstephan, Germany

Deschampsia cespitosa in München in October

Little Bluestem, Schzachyrium scoparium, in Lahom, Sweden, in late November 

Little Bluestem backlit in November, Laholm Citypark

Big Bluestem, Andropogon gerardii, Westpark, München, Germany

Big Bluestem in Sichtungsgarten Herrmannshof, Weinheim, in early October

Switch Grass, Panicum virgatum, in Laholm in late November 

Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens' in Westpark in München 

Friday, 2 December 2011

Black Walnut Dispatch

One of the best blogs I follow at the moment is Grounded Design by Thomas Rainer. It is seldom very far between the posts, and it is always worth the waiting anyway.

Unfortunately, the blog is not connected to the Google Friend Connect so there is no box that you can click on and then be able to add and view the blog in the blogroll. Instead, I have subscribed and get posts sent to my inbox. Now, I just today got an email about a new blog that he recommends and as I totally agree with Thomas I also want to tell my readers about it.

The blog is called Black Walnut Dispatch and is just a fun read, written by garden designer Mary Gray. Read it, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed!