A Sidewalk Prairie

A Sidewalk Prairie

Part of Ep. 601 Landscaping with Wisconsin Wildflowers

Visit the garden of Master Gardener Kristi Siefert and explore the prairie garden in front of her house.

Premiere date: Feb 28, 1998

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
We've looked at prairies far and wide. Now we're going to look at one that's long and narrow. And it proves once again that you don't need a big patch of yard to enjoy the plants in a prairie.
I'm with master gardener, Kristi Siefert. We're in her front yard. Kristi, this is very unlikely place for a prairie. Why did you pick it?

Kristi:
Well, it was an area that was sadly in need of renovation. And I had to decide whether I wanted a high input lawn or a low input prairie. And so, I went with the prairie plants.

Shelley:
And what did you have to do the actually establish the prairie plants?

Kristi:
Well, it wasn't really too difficult. I decided to go with with plants as opposed to seeds, because of the slope. And what we did was scrape off the sod, compost the sod and just stuck the plants in. I did no further soil amendments.

Shelley:
No fertilizing which is always great too.

Kristi:
No soil prep.

Shelley:
You've got some that are just beautiful. Some of the spring bloomers we don't always get a chance to appreciate.

Kristi:
Isn't that nice? That's a prairie smoke and it gets it's name from the tendrils that come out of here when it develops seed heads. It looks like wisps of smoke.

Shelley:
It almost looks like when I've seen it en masse in a prairie it almost looks like it's waving, an ocean sort of.

Kristi:
Yes, it's really pretty.

Shelley:
That's nice and you've got a couple other special ones that we don't always get a chance to appreciate. That looks like a trillium.

Kristi:
Yes it is. That's a prairie trillium. It's one of the-- there are a couple of different prairie triliums that require full sun.
Shelley:
That's why we don't see 'em often. And shooting star next to it?
Kristi:
Yes, that's an amythyst shooting star. I did have to ammend the soil a little on that one because it requires a limestone base and so I incorporated limestone into the soil.

Shelley:
So, you snuck in a little there.

Kristi:
Yes.

Shelley:
Now, this is something I'm not accustomed t seeing in a praire.
It looks like a rose.

Kristi:
Yes, this is a prairie rose. And I really like this plant. It blossoms profusely in June.

Shelley:
And the red stems must keep it interesting even when there's nothing blooming.

Kristi:
Yes, it provides nice visual interest in the winter.

Shelley:
With dealing with such a small urban setting, did you just plop the plants in or do you spend more time actually designing where the plants go?

Kristi:
Well, I did give it quite a bit of thought. I wanted all my short plants in front. My spring plants, my specimen plants, so that people-- as they walk by, could notice them in particular.

And then along the street, I have some of the tougher plants the grasses and the taller things that aren't in so much in danger of being stepped on as people get out of cars or walk across the property.

Shelley:
So, what are we going to see blooming later in the season then along the road?

Kristi:
Oh, I have a lot of things. There are three different grasses in here. And I have pale purple coneflower and liatris and nodding wild onion and oxe-eye sunflower. It's just very interesting.

Shelley:
So, you really have a miniature patch of praire right here.

Kristi:
Yes I do, I go all the way through the seasons.

Shelley:
That's great. Thanks Kristi. Check your local ordinances before attempting such a project. But it's worth working at. You'll have four seasons of interest and it's great to look out your window at.

Shelley:
This is New England Aster. To me, its flowers always signify the beginnng of the end of the growing season-- but not the end of the viewing season. That's whats so wonderful about prairies. They're beautiful and interesting almost 365 days of the year.

Imagine the first snows of winter sweeping across this beautiful vista. The tall prairie grasses in particular hold up well even under heavy snow. If you'd like to see more of this prairie be sure to visit the International Crane Foundation near Baraboo. I think they did a wonderful job planting this.

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