by Betty Struckhoff
How to make a perfect fall day spectacular? Join other native plant lovers to dig up free plants. On September 8, 2012, St. Louis Wild Ones members had the treat of digging prairie plants from the backyard of a home formerly owned by a member, and taking them to their own yards (or in one case, a friend’s yard).
The story of the property is an interesting one. Wild Ones member Nathan seeded the prairie several years ago, covering the entire back yard of the small home in St. Louis county. But then his family outgrew the house. In the tough housing market of 2011, finding a buyer was difficult. Nathan finally decided in the fall to mow the prairie. He invited fellow members to come dig plants before he did it. Soon after, the house sold.
The new owner, Amanda, moved in the next February. Her busy life did not include time for gardening, although she knew the backyard had been planted as a prairie. Her aunt, however, loves gardening and persuaded Amanda “let’s just give it a year and see what happens.”
Of course the prairie rebounded and by the end of summer Amanda had grown to appreciate its beauty. But her dog needed some room to run and she longed for an open space to sit under a shade tree.
Her aunt contacted Wild Ones — could someone advise them on making the prairie just a bit more livable? Wild Ones member Jeanne Cablish, a landscape designer, volunteered to create a plan for some open space. In return Amanda offered all members the opportunity to dig — again!
Jeanne marked off a wide entry to a slightly narrower path which leads to a large open space in the back of the yard. For the dig, the borders of the open space were marked with garden hoses and flags.
Next, Amanda will weed whack what remains, apply herbicide and mulch the open space. She dreams of a dogwood tree in a shady corner. The prairie has a new suburban life!