Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Nascent Native Garden

Last year this area (aka my backyard) was a lovely arrangement of dead grass, weeds and dirt. Confession: I don't like lawns. Grass looks great in the outfield at Wrigley but it's just wrong most other places. So late last spring I set about systematically killing the remnants of lawn that existed back there when I purchased this house three years ago. Admittedly there was a psychological component to this ceremonial grassicide; it went along with the program of erasing and replacing what had been before my former fiance left with the plumber. But that is perhaps a story for another day.
When my kids were a little younger we stayed several times at a place in Dodgeville, WI called High Point Guest House. It is part of an area that is hellbent on restoring the native prairie ecology that had been usurped by farming in the last century or so. In fact, the family that owns the property has been converting what had been the family farm back into prairie - and it's working. I thought it was a terrific idea and that was the seed (if you'll pardon the unconscionable pun) for the idea of having a prairie-ish backyard.

So I did what I always do: thought about it for two years, then started researching just how to go about putting in a garden here in an urban setting. Oh, I forgot to mention that I've never done any gardening in my life, except mowing lawn (yech) and yanking the occasional dandelion.

I discovered a great resource in Stone Silo Prairie, a native plants greenhouse in De Pere, WI. [This blog is starting to read like a commercial for Cheeseland] Anyway, I received a great deal of help as well as some beautiful plantlings (that's the technical term) from them. Last spring I popped them in the then-fallow ground and they actually grew! This year, as you can see, they're goin' gangbusters. The little dudes to the right and in the box by the garage are newly ensconced this year. Hey, this gardening thing is fun!