Planting for diversity

Planting wildflower plugs at the Ladd Arboretum

Saturday was cool and wet, but a truckload of plants awaited, so our tough band of volunteers got to work with shovels and trowels. Four hours later, several hundred plugs—young wildflowers, grasses, and sedges—were in the ground at sites along the channel banks stretching from the Ecology Center to just beyond the Grady Bird Sanctuary’s waterfall. A drenching rain that night settled them in.

In our three channel-side sites, carved out of conventional parks, we are working to improve the soil and bring greater diversity of plant and animal life into places that have been disturbed by decades of hard use. That means removing bullies like buckthorn and Asian honeysuckle and managing aggressive native plants like Canada goldenrod that, unchecked, may take over a site. And it means adding a wide variety of other plants—59 species in this planting alone.

It’s going to take time. But there are moments that remind us it’s all worth it. This sunny patch behind the Ecology Center was alive with butterflies and bees in late September as asters reached their peak.

Prairie planting at Ladd Arboretum one year after planting

This is what the same area looked like just one year earlier. The grant that has made it possible to purchase all of these new plants is coming to an end soon, but the volunteer stewards are determined to keep going, and we hope others will join us.
Planting at the Ladd Arboretum

— Wendy Pollock