This fall, Powell Gardens brings back its popular Native Plant School (last held in 2010). We have three programs scheduled for 2016 and are busy putting together the Native Plant School curriculum for 2017. The ultimate goal is to start a “Sustainable/Native Garden” certificate (exact name is still to be determined).
Wild Plums (Prunus sp.) are a beautiful and delicious small tree for an edible landscape.
Our first program is scheduled for Saturday, October 8th: Native Edible Plants. Edible plants are currently very popular and speaking about them gives me a flashback to the grand opening of the Heartland Harvest Garden. Edible Landscape guru Rosalind Creasy spoke at that event and reminded us of the importance of soil — what places like Israel spend and do to create soil and how we (who are blessed with it) “throw it away” by building over it, or planting lawns and tidy ornamental plants. She devoted her life towards the compromise of creating edible landscapes. The Heartland Harvest Garden she proclaimed as the largest edible landscape in the country.
Rosalind Creasy’s book Edible Landscaping was recently updated and remains a classic book inspiring edible landscaping.
Native plants, being the original inhabitants and creators of our great Midwestern soils, are the building blocks of a sustainable landscape and there are many native edible plants that do just that in the Heartland Harvest Garden. The natives are integrated with the traditional and unique edible plants to act as support for the web of life that we work with in an organic garden. They attract the insects that are pollinators, predators of other insect pests, or food for birds that help keep the balance of nature in the garden. Learn to work with Mother Nature and not against her!
An Olive Juniper Hairstreak nectars on a mountain-mint (Pycnanthemum sp.), a native edible that makes a fine tea but also attracts many pollinator and beneficial insects to a garden.
Our keynote, Dr. Linda Hezel practices this at her organic “Prairie Birthday Farm.” I got to know her many moons ago as I helped with a survey of butterflies on her farm. Dr. Hezel understands the value of native plants and animals and their role creating a healthy environment that produces nutritious, local food. She will share her story that is inspiring as she provides 25 local chefs with unique produce for their menus including many natives: from wild persimmons and plums to native hops’ spears, wild greens, and honey.
Wild persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) are both beautiful and tasty (when ripe!).
Our second speaker is Dr. Nadia Navarrete-Tindall of Lincoln University in Jefferson City. Nadia is soon to have a book on native edible plants published and is one of the most knowledgeable about Lower Midwest native edible plants and preparing delicious foods from them. Nadia also practices the whole web of life scenario of native plants from pollinators and other beneficial insects to the value of birds and other wildlife.
Fresh picked pawpaws from the Heartland Harvest Garden.
Powell Gardens’ Horticulture staff will conduct the remainder of the program beginning with Barbara Fetchenhier who will do a dessert demonstration after lunch. (Plan on sampling some pawpaw ice cream!) Harvest Garden Horticulturist Mark Gawron and I will lead a tour of the garden looking at its many native plants and sharing the inside scoop on their maintenance and value in an edible landscape. Barbara will share a few more treats from the plants on the tour, too.
Wild Strawberries (Fragaria virginiana) used as groundcover in the Peach Court of the Heartland Harvest Garden.
Harvest Garden Gardener Eric Wagner will give the final program on Food Forests and Permaculture — designing and creating landscapes that use nature as a model for developing a diverse habitat filled with appropriate edible plants from canopy shade trees of pecans and walnuts to understory trees of mulberries and pawpaws to shrubs and herbaceous perennials.
We hope you come away from these programs inspired to enhance your own landscape to become more sustainable, healthy, delicious and nutritious!
Marc & Mary Robinson have a native grove of pecans and we have grown nuts from their best tree as a legacy tree for our region.
November 5th will be our second class on Native Shade and Evergreen Trees at Powell Gardens. December 6th will be a new “how to” program introducing my book Native Plants of the Midwest — to be held at the Plaza branch of The Kansas City Public Library.
There is a fee for the first two programs. Please sign up for those by calling Linda Burton at 816-697-2600 ext. 209. To sign up for the Dec. 6 library program, which is free, please RSVP (starting Nov. 6) at kclibrary.org. That program includes a book signing (you can purchase the book at the event or in advance from Perennial Gifts, Powell Gardens’ gift shop).