Luke Garden


grouping of tall green grass and flowers in front of trees

Luke Garden Site

Northwest corner of church grounds adjacent to Goff Middle School and Gilligan Road

Spring 2019 Progress Report

By Fred Henson

Project Goal:  Establish an attractive low maintenance wildflower meadow as a neighborhood demonstration project to benefit wildlife, particularly native pollinating insects, on a portion of the church lawn that is not in active use for other purposes but currently requires regular mowing.

Spring 2019 Update:  Despite wet spring conditions in 2018 and 2019 and heavy clay soil all the plant species from the original list that were planted in 2017 and 2018 have survived and grown (Table 1).  All have bloomed profusely in the appropriate season.  A few individual plants (purple coneflower) did die out on the school side of the garden where the soil is wettest and is likely an indication that the soil is saturated beyond the tolerance of this species or is at least marginal for healthy growth.  The mulch was not renewed in 2018 to encourage self-seeding and seedlings of blue-eyed grass and purple coneflower were seen in May 2019.

Since the mulch has thinned, the garden has been invaded by some common weeds notably “creeping Charlie.”  Some was pulled in spring 2019.  However, the time has come to transition to a tough-love approach to see whether the now well-established wild plants can outgrow, shade out and ultimately outcompete the lawn weeds.  The original premise is that this will be a low maintenance garden.  Heroic efforts will not be made to rescue plants that cannot compete while plants that are successful will dominate the garden as it is expanded.

From the beginning no fertilizer has been applied to the garden.  The plants that are succeeding are extracting the nutrients required for growth from the native clay.  I did learn that during the summer of 2018, the garden was being watered periodically.  The deep-rooted plants in this garden should not need this care and I would ask that they be left alone this summer to prove that they are adapted to this place by the grace of God.

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Table 1 Plants established since since 2017; evidence of self-propagation as noted.
Scientific Name Common Name Year First
Planted

Reproduction?

Asclepias syriaca Common Milkweed 2017 Veg – 2018
Aster novae-angliae New England Aster 2018  
Aster novae-belgii New York Aster N/A  
Sisyrinchium angustifolium Blue Eyed Grass 2017 Seed/veg -2019
Coreopsis lanceolata Lance Leaf Coreopsis 2019  
Echinacea purpurea Purple Coneflower 2017 Seed-2018
Helenium sp. Sneezeweed 2018  
Liatris spicata Prairie Blazing Star 2018  
Monarda fistulosa Bergamot N/A  
Monarda didyma Oswego Tea 2019  
Ratibida pinnata Yellow Coneflower N/A  
Rudbeckia hirta Black Eye Susan 2019  
Schizachyrium scoparium Little Bluestem (grass) N/A  
Solidago species Goldenrod 2017