GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2012 show34
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Show #34/2908
Birthplace Of Ecological Restoration


Birthplace of Ecological Restoration
THIS IS THE BIRTHPLACE OF ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION and was established in 1934 through the vision of various faculty and civic leaders. At that time the country was in the midst of the Great Depression which was accompanied by the infamous Dustbowl. At that time much of northern Wisconsin had been logged causing concern about the health of the land. Here it was conceived that they could put back together natural communities, native communities. This arboretum is comprised of 1,260 acres, which provide representations of the major ecological communities of Wisconsin.

Click here for more info

Utilize Native Plants
SUSAN FEELS IT'S IMPORTANT TO UTILIZE NATIVE PLANTS. They help increase the diversity of plants which then increases the diversity of insects and birds, etc. Native plants make an area a great place to learn more about the natural world. As well they provide new and different selections of plants and gardening options in general. Native plants are suited to the site and the climate.

Click here for more info

Savanna Garden
SUSAN AND JOE START IN A SAVANNA GARDEN. Savanna is a type of vegetation. Many have heard of savannas in Africa but in Wisconsin they also have savannas. In fact they were widespread before settlement and agriculture came into the picture. This is a Quercus macrocarpa 'Burr Oak Savanna'. It has basically prairie vegetation on the ground layer, but with scattered trees. The trees can be far apart or closer together thus there can be different levels of shade and light conditions. It's a nice garden and similar to the conditions a home gardener might encounter.

Click here for more info

Shrubs for Sun or Shade
JOE WANTS TO SEE SOME SHRUBS AND SUSAN HAS VARIETIES THAT GROW IN SUN OR SHADE. They start with shade shrubs. A lot of people complain they can't grow much because they have too much shade but native shrubs are a good example of plants that can grow in the shade successfully plus one gets more than 1 season of interest.

Click here for more info

Rain Garden
SUSAN AND JOE NEXT LOOK AT THE RAIN GARDEN. The Arboretum has a number of practices in place for ecological restoration. The Rain Garden is a way of managing some of the water runoff on this property. A rain garden is simply a way to capture and retain water on your property and it is usually located at the lowest point on the property. Think about the water that comes off your roof line, down the gutters, down the walkway, down that part of your landscape that doesn't have a lot of plants. That water is traveling downhill, taking with it chemicals, fertilizers and a lot of things you don't want to ultimately end up in the waterway.

Madison Arboretum - Rain Garden



Click here for more info

Curtis Prairie
SUSAN AND JOE VISIT THE CURTIS PRAIRIE. Joe finds it fascinating to look out and see the vast amount of land and know it's the oldest prairie restoration in the world. Susan explains that a prairie is a diverse grassland community with no trees. Instead it's a mixture of grasses of various sizes as well as other plants that aren't grasses. Thus all the flowers one sees, which are called forbs, are all mixed together into various heights and different textures. These are now just plants growing together in a community.

Click here for more info

Mesic Mix of Prairie Species
THEY NEXT VISIT A MESIC MIX OF PRAIRIE SPECIES. Here one finds a grass not commonly found in the Curtis Prairie nor other prairie areas. One example is Adropogon gerardii 'Big Bluestem' it is beautiful, has a reddish color with bluish stems, it develops flowers at the top and grows fairly tall. Another companion to this is Echinacea paradoxa 'Yellow Coneflower', it is just coming into bloom in the middle of the summer. It has drooping petals which is normal for a member of the sunflower family and makes a really good, tall forb planting for this type garden.

Click here for more info

 


LINKS:

University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum

Mansion Hill Inn

Garden Smart Plant List



Complete transcript of the show.


In this show Garden Smart visits the University of Wisconsin, Madison Arboretum located in Madison, Wisconsin where they've been studying ecological restoration since the 1930's. What they've learned over the years is today more important than ever. In this show we learn not only about ecological restoration but discover many interesting native plants. Native plants can be a wonderful addition to any garden.
Dr. Kevin McSweeney is a Professor of Soil Sciences and Environmental Studies at the University and the Director of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum. THIS IS THE BIRTHPLACE OF ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION and was established in 1934 through the vision of various faculty and civic leaders. At that time the country was in the midst of the Great Depression which was accompanied by the infamous Dustbowl. At that time much of northern Wisconsin had been logged causing concern about the health of the land. Here it was conceived that they could put back together natural communities, native communities. This arboretum is comprised of 1,260 acres, which provide representations of the major ecological communities of Wisconsin. Importantly this is all in one place providing a great resource for the students and faculty to investigate putting nature back together. This concept has now spread globally, in fact scientific societies are today much more actively pursuing ecological restoration; as well public groups are becoming more involved in ecological restoration. It now has a broad resonance across the globe.
In the 1930's some of this property was degraded farmland. To rectify the situation there were upwards of 200 civilian conservation corps that began working on site and it was a major undertaking. Without that force we wouldn't have what is here today. Today there are a number of restored prairies, totaling about 60 acres, some of which were largely planted by hand. There are still some civilian conservation corps buildings on site.
The concept of restoration always follows degradation. We're always quick to point our finger at industry as the people responsible but homeowners play an important role in this problem as well. A lot of the runoff today is coming from urban settings, thus we all bear a responsibility for better housekeeping and that housekeeping goes beyond the inside of our house. In this garden we'll see examples of rain gardens, which are 1 way homeowners can esthetically improve the exterior of their house and at the same time perform a beneficial environmental service.
Joe next meets Susan Carpenter, the Native Plant Gardener at the Arboretum. It's safe to say most of us don't have a backyard this big but there are elements in this vast expanse that can be applied to our backyards. Susan is quick to say that she is only involved in about 4 acres which are centered around the Visitors Center. Thus her task is manageable. The gardens here represent the different plant communities of Southern Wisconsin. They have Savanna Gardens, Prairie Gardens, Woodland Gardens as well as the aforementioned rain garden. These are all relatively new, they've been here about 5 years.
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SUSAN FEELS IT'S IMPORTANT TO UTILIZE NATIVE PLANTS. They help increase the diversity of plants which then increases the diversity of insects and birds, etc. Native plants make an area a great place to learn more about the natural world. As well they provide new and different selections of plants and gardening options in general. Native plants are suited to the site and the climate. Here they match community gardens to native sites with native plants which means the plants are very well adapted. One benefit is that one need not water as often as would be necessary with ornamentals. Because these native plants are more drought tolerant they're happier in their local environment thus they're more pest and disease resistant. They grow well together in communities and have over time.
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SUSAN AND JOE START IN A SAVANNA GARDEN. Savanna is a type of vegetation. Many have heard of savannas in Africa but in Wisconsin they also have savannas. In fact they were widespread before settlement and agriculture came into the picture. This is a Quercus macrocarpa 'Burr Oak Savanna'. It has basically prairie vegetation on the ground layer, but with scattered trees. The trees can be far apart or closer together thus there can be different levels of shade and light conditions. It's a nice garden and similar to the conditions a home gardener might encounter. Since this is a Quercus macrocarpa 'Burr Oak Savanna' they have Burr Oaks in this garden. The Burr Oak is a member of the White Oak group so it has rounded leaf tips and this tree has acorns starting to form. One thing to note about the Burr Oak is that it is a fire adapted tree. It has thick bark and even on a young tree with new growth the twigs have very thick bark, it's rather leathery, helping them be resistant to fire. Fire, a natural component of a savanna ecosystem, can burn through the understory, burning off the ground layer but leave the trees undamaged. The undercover is comprised of the native plants growing underneath. They next look at some of those plants. One sign a plant is happy is if it spreads rapidly. A Monarda is doing just that. Susan has planted several Monarda didyma 'Adam Bee Balm' plants. They seed themselves and spread by rhizomes. It's a plant suitable for either full sun or under trees in a semi-shaded area. Most of the plants here have that same range, they can grow under this range of light conditions. Another example is Euphorbia corollata 'Flowering Spurge'. It has delicate white flowers and is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family and is strangely related to the Poinsettia. It can grow with plants around it or by itself in very open conditions in very dry, even poor soils. Many of these plants have a wide range and that's why they're good for the home environment. They're easy to grow and will be successful with a wide range of light conditions. Other plants that are ideal for the shady home environment are Sporobdus heterolepis 'Northern Dropseed' which is a grass just now coming into bloom, another plant Veronicastrum virginicum 'Culver's Root' is taller, has a white spire, a kind of inflorescence, and it too is coming into bloom. Another plant ideal for shady or semi-shady conditions is Lilium michiganense 'Michigan lily' which is a beautiful Lily with curved petals and a nodding flowering head. It's always nice to learn about plants that flower in the shade, especially plants that are natives. Solidago caesia 'Zigzag Golden Rod' is a nice plant for deeper shade, maybe under a big tree, for example. It does bloom in the fall when most woodland plants, that normally bloom in the spring, are done blooming. The yellow flowers on the tall stalks again appear towards the end of summer or early in the fall. Elymus hystrix 'Bottlebrush Grass' is another shade loving plant. It has a delicate flower and blooms in or around July. But it will stand on throughout the rest of the season unless you pick the blooms.
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JOE WANTS TO SEE SOME SHRUBS AND SUSAN HAS VARIETIES THAT GROW IN SUN OR SHADE. They start with shade shrubs. A lot of people complain they can't grow much because they have too much shade but native shrubs are a good example of plants that can grow in the shade successfully plus one gets more than 1 season of interest. Hamamelis virginiana 'Witch Hazel' has nice summer color with large leaves and spreading branches but in the fall it turns yellow and has flowers. They're rather small but still offer interesting flowers late in September. Another shrub for shaded areas is Viburnum lentago 'Nannyberry'. It is a Viburnum, has white showy flowers in the spring with green berries in the summer, towards the middle to end of summer the berries turn black and are a good source of food for wildlife in the winter. It also has lovely red, purple fall color. Diervilla lonicera 'Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle' is another shrub great for shaded areas, it is a little shorter and has an arching habit. It must be distinguished from the invasive Honeysuckle that no one wants in a native planting. Mid summer it has yellow flowers, is attractive to pollinators and is beautiful year round with its spreading, arching branches. Under story shrubs are a great way to enhance a shady situation.
Prunus americana 'American Plumb' is well suited for a sunny environment. It has little plums, gets quite tall, has beautiful white flowers in the spring before the leaves come on and has a wonderful fragrance and has great fall color. It forms a thicket and is very attractive. The plums, however, aren't very tasty.
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SUSAN AND JOE NEXT LOOK AT THE RAIN GARDEN. The Arboretum has a number of practices in place for ecological restoration. The Rain Garden is a way of managing some of the water runoff on this property. A rain garden is simply a way to capture and retain water on your property and it is usually located at the lowest point on the property. Think about the water that comes off your roof line, down the gutters, down the walkway, down that part of your landscape that doesn't have a lot of plants. That water is traveling downhill, taking with it chemicals, fertilizers and a lot of things you don't want to ultimately end up in the waterway. However, that is exactly what happens. By keeping your water on your property, it is captured and it filters down into the soil, where it percolates. Some of the water goes up through transpiration but the bottom line is that plants take care of some of the chemicals.
This rain garden is large scale compared to what is needed for a home environment. Here they have a rather large building and the water from the roof drains into this area from the downspouts. Additionally, the water from the buildings air conditioner sump pump drains into this area. This area is low. Because of the plants it's difficult to determine just how low but even this area periodically fills with water. It won't hold water long unless they've had a super wet year. The plants here are planted along the moisture gradient. So in the wetter areas and on the slope they've been able to see which plants do well and in which areas. Again, the plants transpire, since there is a lot of diversity of plant material, this allows the water to infiltrate rather than running off into streams, rivers and lakes. Susan goes into the rain garden. A shorter plant suitable for a home garden is Asclepias incarnata 'Swamp Milkweed' which is a host plant for the Monarch Butterfly. The Monarchs lay their eggs on it, they also feed on the flowers and in the early spring the Cedar Waxwings come and strip the fibers from the stems and use those in their nests. This is a good plant for a wet spot, it seeds itself readily, thus is good for the garden. Calamagrostis Canadensis 'Bluejoint Grass' is also good for wet areas. It's tall, a vertical standing grass, and spreads a great deal by rhizomes. It will spread through an area, has a natural drift and manages to spread to dry areas, such as up the slope in this location. It's not as tall in the drier spot and not as green especially so because the weather has been very dry this year but it does well in a range of conditions. Cyperaceae (Sedge) also does well with wet feet. There are a number of Sedges that can be used, they grow in a nice cluster and they have interesting fruit after they've flowered in the spring.

Madison Arboretum - Rain Garden


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SUSAN AND JOE VISIT THE CURTIS PRAIRIE. Joe finds it fascinating to look out and see the vast amount of land and know it's the oldest prairie restoration in the world. Susan explains that a prairie is a diverse grassland community with no trees. Instead it's a mixture of grasses of various sizes as well as other plants that aren't grasses. Thus all the flowers one sees, which are called forbs, are all mixed together into various heights and different textures. These are now just plants growing together in a community. They have 70 or so species that they planted into this garden initially and they add more plants as time goes on. This garden is somewhat shorter in stature at the top of the hill, the soils are a little dryer and this is a south facing slope, so it gets a lot of sunlight. As one goes down the slope they have taller species and taller grasses and those plants are more adapted for soil with more moisture. One of the things interesting about the Prairie Garden, what makes it different from say, a lawn or another kind of planting, is that these plants have 80% of their bio-mass underground. So, the root systems are deep and the soils are deep. Thus they can survive hot and dry conditions, like today, and they do just fine. Some of the adaptations one sees on these plants are vertical leaves or leaves with a kind of waxy quality to them to help retain moisture. These leaves can survive really hot, dry conditions, like we find in this prairie. One plant is Verbena Hori vervain and it has a nice long bloom time. It has spikes. The blooms down the stem have already bloomed yet it still has buds at the top. It blooms a long time, stands up well and looks good. Asclepias tuberosa 'Butterfly Milkweed' is the bright orange Milkweed that we've seen on dry sites. It's related to the other Milkweeds but this is the one that grows best in high sun and high light situations. And it too is a good host plant for the Monarchs. Grasses should also be considered for these dry sites. One really good grass is Bouteloua curtipendula 'Side Oaks Grama Grass'. It is a small grass, grows to about one to one and a half feet tall with leaves that are kind of spiky-looking clumps, then the flowers rise above that and they have a reddish tinge on the stamens. These plants are a good bit taller than those we've just viewed.
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THEY NEXT VISIT A MESIC MIX OF PRAIRIE SPECIES. Here one finds a grass not commonly found in the Curtis Prairie nor other prairie areas. One example is Adropogon gerardii 'Big Bluestem' it is beautiful, has a reddish color with bluish stems, it develops flowers at the top and grows fairly tall. Another companion to this is Echinacea paradoxa 'Yellow Coneflower', it is just coming into bloom in the middle of the summer. It has drooping petals which is normal for a member of the sunflower family and makes a really good, tall forb planting for this type garden.
Joe is amazed at what we've seen and learned today. The diversity and beauty is more than he expected. The message Susan would like all in our audience to take from this show is that everyone, if they're using appropriate regional plants and matching them up to a native type of site, be it sunny or shady, can end up with a really nice, interesting planting area. One can begin small. For example, start with a border, don't try to turn your whole yard into a native garden at first. Plant the appropriate plants, you'll find a lot of diversity, a lot of beauty, then a lot of animal life will appear, a habitat will develop. It's fun to work in these areas and one learns a lot while working in them. Joe reminds everyone that your local county extension agent and office should have plenty of information available about native plants. County extension agents are a great resource for this type of garden.
Joe thanks Susan. This has been a learning experience for him. Susan has been a wonderful tour guide and teacher and has introduced us to many plants that we as gardeners should explore.
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LINKS:

University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum

Mansion Hill Inn

Garden Smart Plant List


   
 
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