Next week, I’ll be traveling to Portland to visit friends. Because I anticipate having some time to kill in airports, I figure I should have a project. Sure, I have a book to read, “Tobacco Road” by Erskine Caldwell. Sure, I probably should have been reading that a couple of years ago when I drove down to rural Georgia, but that didn’t happen. But back to the project.
Two weekends ago, I planted close to a dozen prairie plant seeds in little flats in our reading room, where very little actual reading takes place, or it hasn’t up to this point. But this far in, I can see that I’m having a pretty good germination rate. Then last weekend, I ordered some other plants that I couldn’t or didn’t start from seeds. The order confirmation that I got lists all the plants by their Latin names. I know what some of them are at a glance, but it’s been more than 20 years since I formally studied Botany (one course my first semester in college) and even longer since I had a year of Latin in high school. Besides that, I have information about how far apart things are supposed to be planted, how tall they get and a range of months when they’d be expected to bloom. I also need to figure out how many square feet the new area of the prairie garden is and then the fun starts. This is the first time I’m really designing a prairie garden from scratch. The past two seasons when we established the garden in the first place and when we added to it, I purchased what is basically a garden kit with a variety of plants and a plan from the nursery’s designer and then I used that plan as a suggestion for arranging the plants, adapting it to the shape of the space that we had prepared and probably adding in a couple of extra plants that I wanted but weren’t included in the plan. I saved both of the old plans and I may refer to them for some inspiration. While I’m getting a list of plants that is almost completely different from what we have right now in the plants that I ordered, the plants that I started from seeds are a mix of things that we already have and of which I wanted more of and some other plants that we didn’t already have but for which I did have the opportunity to collect seeds last fall. I’m also going to bring “Nature’s Design: A Practical Guide to Natural Landscaping” by Carol A. Smyser.
I think it will go pretty well. This is really the sort of thing I wish I could be doing for a living. I’ve been working on prairie restoration projects as a volunteer since college and although I’ve learned a lot I haven’t been in charge of planning those projects. Besides that, gardening is different from restoring wild places. The gardens need to be a bit more manicured. At this point, I don’t have any credentials. Not even a portfolio of gardens that I have designed. I could probably stand to take some horticulture classes and at least an introductory landscape architecture class.