front yard ~ 11AU30

front yard ~ 11AU30

The replanting to Native of the Silver Plains Project combines elements of restoration, revegetation, and wildlife planting:

Restoration is site specific with a requesite that one knows what once grew there. Seed must be gathered from native plants growing in the wild within a 200 km or so radius of the site. Once established, a restoration project may be managed with periodic prescribed burns and/or trucking in of cattle to graze it but the site is otherwise left to the vagaries of nature.

Revegetation is done by ranchers who favour Native flora — grasses in particular — in their pastures. Landscape architects sometimes specify indigenous flora for their projects because it tends to be lower maintenance than alien material. Seed is best obtained from sources in proximity to the site but may not be. Such plantings around businesses and homes, etcetera, often use the horticultural approach. In this sense revegetation makes use of native plants but it does not usually attempt to recreate indigenous plant communities.

Tourond Conservation Project

Tourond Creek #2 Wetland Conservation Project

Wildlife plantings, which are not necessarily Native, are projects where the intent is to attract or provide habitat for particular fauna — like those of Ducks Unlimited which creates or preserves habitat for waterfowl (of interest to hunters) — or unused corners and edges of farmland where habitat creation is more benign.

This project is close to being a restoration except there was no way to ascertain what was growing here more than 100 years ago. And a wide variety of flora species, from many components of the Tallgrass Prairie ecosystem, are being compressed into two hectares (five acres), including species for an artificial wetland which will not survive (in dry years) without someone to turn on the water. This project might be considered revegetation or a wildlife planting except it is a yard with people present, not a pasture or a uninhabited field rarely visited by humans.

We think of what we are doing as replanting to Native. Meanwhile, seed for our replanting is being gathered from the surrounding area (or obtained from vendors and acquaintances whose sources are nearby).

 
west, front, east yard ~ 170906

west, front, east yard ~ 170906

This replanting is an inversion of the current dominant convention for human tended landscaping. Instead of expansive lawn(s) with pocket gardens this yard is being planted with expansive gardens and pocket recreation areas (mostly paths and seating areas). While this site will be tended, the expansive “garden” areas are not massed plantings of carefully arranged species typical of horticultural landscaping. The various regions of the yard are being planted as self-organizing communities for their intrinsic value. We are borrowing from the English or Country Garden approach; an expansive communal garden in place of a lawn

what to plant?

Researching flora (and fauna) Native to southern Manitoba and the Great Plains of North America has been a learning experience for two former city folk. We browsed the web and read some books on the subject(s) several times over. A list of species to include was started. Then places like the Agassiz Interpretive Trail and the Prairie Shore Trail in southeastern Manitoba, Spirit Sands in southern Manitoba, Whiteshell Provincial Park in eastern Manitoba, The Livng Prairie Museum in Winnipeg, and Lake Bronson State Park in Minnesota were visited; some sites many times. We attended “Prairie Day” — hosted by Manitoba Nature and the Nature Conservancy of Canada — several years running and met many of the local people encouraging the use of Native flora. As well, more flora was discovered by driving around the local area and walking the ditches. Too, some plants have appeared on the site spontaneously. The list keeps getting longer. While there are almost 200 plants already planned for inclusion (with around 160 already on site), more get added along the way. The number and diversity of plants to choose from is remarkable.

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