The Vacation Project

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.

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