The Perennial Garden’s project is a continuation of the work that was started by Larynn Cutshaw and Maddy Coalmer in the Spring of 2017. The goal of the perennial garden is to increase sustainability efforts on campus and to increase gardening/outdoor education for students. Currently, most of plants on campus are used for aesthetic proposes. It has been proposed to add plants that can be used for education around campus in secluded areas. The type of plants selected for the project are all low long-term maintenance plants such as asparagus (Asparagus officinalis), mint (Mentha spp.), black raspberry bushes (Rubus occidentalis), and red raspberry bushes (Rubus idaeus). In addition, various types of native milkweed have also been selected for planting as they can help attract pollinators and support monarch butterfly larvae. Approximate prices for the plants and potential locations around campus have been researched and compiled into a single spread sheet. Suggestions have been made but it remains unknown who will plant the garden or how it will be maintained for future years.
This project had already been started in the previous semester with locations scouted out and a few plants suggested. I picked up the project by researching potential plants and creating a spread sheet containing all the suggested plants’ growing requirements. I was able to contact Maddy Coalmer to discuss with her the perennial garden project and determine what details still needed to be figured out based on where she and Emily left off at the end of the spring semester. Maddy informed me of some of the ideas that she and Emily had for the gardens and shared with me their completed plans.
After speaking with Maddy, I gained a better understanding of what work remained with planning the garden in hopes of it someday becoming a reality. As an addition to the gardens, I wanted to add native milkweed plants, so I researched the various types of milkweed that grows in central Ohio and added their information onto the already started spreadsheet of other plants. I had the pleasure of meeting with Dustin Braden, a freshman student on campus with insight on some sources where plants and seeds could be purchased for the garden. His first suggested was Spencer Restoration Nursery in Indiana. When I looked up the nursery, most of the plants they sell are by the seeds which would work well for starting some of the plants. However, the nursery also sells plants by the flats which is more expensive, but the plants are already well established. Some other suggested nurseries are Oakland Nursery down the street, OSU Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens and potentially Delaware FLOW. They also sell some of the potential plants by the seedlings or mature. With multiple locations, it should not be very difficult to pick up any plants ordered from them, but I was unable to determine how much plants from them would cost.
Based on the small amount of pricing information I was able to find combined with the price estimate that Dustin provided me with, I estimate that the initial cost of buying plants for the garden to be $500-$600 if mature plants are bought or $200-$300 if seeds are used.
Due to the time of the year that I started working on perennial gardens project and the amount of logistics that still needed to be determined, little work has been done in getting the gardens started. There were also still too many unknowns such as financing and who was planting the planted that needed to be determined before breaking the soil.
All the plants suggested by Emily and Maddy are edible plants that would eventually produce something that students could pick whenever they would like. The plants could also be used to educate students and or the public about how their food is grown. I selected to add native milkweed because they are an easy perennial plant that can also be edible, used for educational purposes and support the local ecosystem. Native plants are plants that naturally occur in the area and help to support a healthy environment as they co-evolved with other native organisms. Milkweed was also selected because it is a perennial and the only plant that Monarch Butterfly larvae feed on. Milkweed is typically known for being poisonous, however some types of milkweed and parts can be eaten if prepared correctly. Milkweed has also been found to have some potential medicinal properties such as the treatment of diarrhea, treatment of insect stings and treatment of bladder stones.
Costs and Maintenance
After speaking with Dustin Braden, some potential places that could supply the plants was determined such as Spence Restoration Nursery and local Oakland Nursery. There are some other local plant places that might be able to help supply some of the plants such as OSU Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens depending on the time of year. I looked around for approximate costs of all the plants to gain an idea for how much money would be needed to start the garden. If 6 individual mature plant of each kind on the list were purchased, it would cost about $500-$600 however if seeds were used, the cost would be about $200-$300.
Even though all the plants are considered low maintenance, some maintenance is still required like fall trimming and harvesting. A few of the suggestions that have come up is starting a gardening club that could have its members help care the garden. This would also allow for the garden to get funding through WSCA to help gain the materials needed to start the garden. Another suggestion has been to have multiple clubs collaborate to help maintain the gardens. This would allow for more students to be involved as the garden is spread out across multiple locations around campus. Emily during the spring conducted an interest survey to see how many students might be interested in having a gardening activity class that would maintain the garden. She found that there was a high interest among students if the timing of the class did not conflict with other activities. Having a class would allow for the garden to maintain an educational purpose and provide an opportunity for students to learn about gardening practices.
A few potential locations
My recommendations for the future of this project is to try and contact buildings and grounds again to get their approval and to discuss details with them. I think that the next step would be to determine the how the fund the gardens either through grants, clubs or a class. I have calculated a rough estimate of the initial cost of the plants to get the gardens started. If funding and maintenance can be established, plants should be quickly finalized as most of the plants should be planted in the spring after the frost. This varies depending on if the plants are started from seed vs a mature plant. Some plants such as milkweed, if planted from seeds can start in the fall as the seeds require the frost to determine when to start sprouting. Once plants have arrived and people established to plant the garden, the perennial garden should be able to be started and maintained for many years to come.