Garden care includes planting  plants; this is done here by Jonas (aged 19 months) and his dad and mom.
Garden Care
Once established, prairie garden care should be minimal. However, in those first five years, special attention is needed. In succeeding years, routine maintenance will be needed. Since Soaring Eagle Prairie at the University of North Dakota is a public garden, care is an important in aesthetics and public acceptance. Plus, getting our hands into the soil and watching nature's changes over the seasons can be an antidote for stressful times. The following is a diary of care with approximate dates.
March & April: As snow melts, litter appears.The prairie did not place these things here; humans dropped them; with the wind, the stuff got trapped in dead plants from the previous season. We pick these things up as the soil dries. Walking on our wet soils produces brick like soil. We invite those who enjoy Soaring Eagle Prairie to pick out litter along the garden's perimeter. A simple act of caring is a radical act in a seemingly uncaring world.
March & April: On the great northern prairies, March and April are seasons of great wind. Winter winds from the North still show their presence; alternately, summer winds of the South show their power. We humans watch and experience this grand drama. With the wind, new litter appears. Where is this stuff coming from? Those who love and care for the garden try to keep human trash picked up.
Photo soon
March & April: Gardeners often practice "clean gardening," removing plant debris as soon as possible. This is outside "nature's cycle". Plant material bio-degrades returning nutrients to soil and protects crowns of tender new plants. Plus, seeds from the previous year provide food for migratory grassland birds. We leave plant material until the last danger of ground freeze is passed. We have much to learn from nature!
Photo soon
Late April (around Earth Day): We remove plant debris. We step carefully in the garden as we see tender growing plants all around us. The place is alive! We carefully cut dead stuff leaving about 3-4 inches above crowns of plants. We do not pull dead material as this would damage plants. We take the trimmings to the dumpster. When done, we stand back and admire our work. Spring has arrived on Soaring Eagle Prairie!
Photo soon
April & May: We quickly discover some plants are "cool season" plants, with favored times during early spring and fall. In some cases, these plants are aggressive, getting a jump start on the warm season plants by spreading through underground roots or seed dispersal. This is normal in the early stages of prairie restoration before plants get established. As the ground dries up and becomes workable, we do selective hoeing, digging and pulling back of aggressive cool season plants.