Much work has happened since my plea of a few months ago – More Insects...Please! Much of that work took the form of talking, planning, researching and decision making. The most important decision was to purchase “pocket prairies” from the Cincinnati Nature Center. Co-leader of the initiative Vicki Culler explained, “We decided to purchase the CNC kits because they had been thoughtfully and purposefully designed to include native species of grasses and flowers that will thrive together, will bloom throughout the growing season, and will look attractive in a suburban setting. And by that I mean that no seven-foot prairie grasses are included!”
The results of a day of physical work can be seen in the Cincinnati Friends parking lot, where our pocket prairie has been established. Along with co-leaders Jeff Clark and Vicki Culler, volunteers Sabrina Darnowsky, Marjorie Isaacs, Hal Angus, Jim and Liz Newby, Megan Golden and Carole Barnhart spent a sunny Saturday in September spreading cardboard over the grassy strip between our two parking lots with the purpose of killing the grass beneath. The cardboard was overlain with a layer of topsoil and then another layer of shredded mulch.
Volunteers planted plugs of prairie dropseed and little bluestem grasses around the garden edges. Largely dormant at this time of year, these grasses will push their roots into the soil next spring, fertilized by both the decomposed cardboard and the organic remains of the dead grass.
Later in the fall, once temperatures do not threaten to rise above 50 degrees, seeds will be sown. The seed mix in the pocket prairie kit includes seeds of little bluestem, side-oats grama, partridge pea, nodding wild rye, black-eyed susan, purple coneflower, oxeye sunflower, wild bergamot, lance-leaved coreopsis, common milkweed, butterfly weed, rattlesnake master, prairie dropseed, stiff-leaved goldenrod, wild quinine, sky blue aster, common sneezeweed, foxglove beardtongue and Virginia mountain mint. These seeds will germinate in the spring, push their roots down into the soil and bloom during the summer months. Though it typically takes two or three years for a prairie to reach its full glory, the seeds in the CNC kit were chosen to produce a good-looking garden in the first year.
In addition to the installation of the pocket prairie, several seedling redbud trees and two fruits of a paw-paw tree were transplanted into the woods near the edge, where they will hopefully provide spring color and sustenance for wildlife for years to come.
This initiative has encouraged growth of more than our natural surroundings. Co-leader Jeff Clark shared that “I appreciate the opportunities to connect with Friends while stewarding the beautiful Cincinnati Friends Meeting property as part of my own spiritual development.”