Thursday, May 15, 2008
Don't Strip the Parkway
Early this morning I dreamed the gardening crew had mowed the meadow in the parkway down to neat little nubs. Sure this wasn't true, I still took a peek out the front door to see that the milkweeds and the 3 foot tall rye flower stalks were still there. It's been almost one year since we took the plunge to expunge the boring and create a mixed, less vertically challenged planting in the space between the sidewalk and the street. Last summer the existing patchy rye/blue lawn was lifted along with a couple inches of soil, and stuff was seeded and planted, watered and it grew. What started as mostly an aesthetic endeavor (flowers are more interesting to look at than lawn) grew into a sort of habitat development project as we have realized how many insect species are using, or potentially could be using, the dynamic new parkway strip as a resource.
Plenty of plant species have also found the parkway strip welcoming. Currently we have ryegrass, feather grass, alyssum, and the coconut geraniums (please don't confuse this with cheeseweed, Malva parviflora, like my mom did) going to seed; asclepias curassavica, statice (limonium sinuata), feverfew (tanacetum parthenium) and oenothera in full bloom; two members of the umbelliferae (Daucus carota and Ammi majus), catananche caerulea, verbena bonariensis and some mystery daisy volunteers are coming into bloom. The lantana, salvias (greggii et al), euryops and artemisia are either done blooming or waiting for their season. Most of these plants grew as volunteers, and the plant density has kept what I would consider weeds from growing for the most part. Next I'll be seeding in some tithonia seeds saved from last autumn, and I'll probably discover some other plant species growing in there that will get a chance to develop after the spent alyssum and grasses are carefully cut back. And of course there is our old street tree, the Ulmus parvifolia, which shelters and feeds our mourning cloak caterpillar population.
So, I got over my bad dream this morning and got to work on my 2nd cup of coffee and counting beans when there's a knock on the door . . . it's a guy from a local nursery out drumming up side work for himself in the neighborhood. He wants to know if I would like the weeds in the parkway cut down and cleaned up. Argghhh.
No, actually. The stink bugs and the ground beetles and the milkweed bugs (large and small) and the monarch butterflies and the harlequin bugs and the syrphids and the aphids and the looper caterpillars and their mothers the moths; all of these and I want you to keep your indiscriminate mitts off of our meadow.