Suzie Winquist sizes up our Wild Helianthus in the Arboretum.
Landscaping with native plants has many purposes and benefits. The plants are already adapted to grow and thrive in this area of the Swannanoa Valley and so they need little maintenance once they have been established. Native grasses and wildflowers also provide forage material for wildlife, like birds, which are dependent upon native plants for their food and for cover. Although non-native plants will grow in the landscape, they may not necessarily benefit the insect or animal population. Non-native plants can even become invasive and out-compete native plants. Some examples of invasive species include stands of Kudzu and Oriental Bittersweet that bring more exotic species to the area.
The Warren Wilson Landscaping crew has incorporated the use of native plants in the campus landscape. The best thing about native grasses is that they don't need to be mowed. Most native grasses that our crew works with are warm season perennial grasses. They are managed through burning and manual weeding in the first stages of establishment. Once a grass stand is established, it can be maintained with little effort. One long-term goal of the Native grass crew is to slowly develop these areas into No-Mow lawns. Areas that are not utilized by the campus for recreation or other purposes can easily be turned into native prairie landscapes.
Other goals of the Grass crew include providing opportunities for the campus to become educated about native plants and wildlife. Many of our planting sites are used by classes for the identification and collection of bugs, plants, soil, and studying other topics of academic interest. The WWC Grass crew was initiated in 1998 by the USDA, which contracted the Warren Wilson College Landscaping Crew to identify and grow native plants for the Forest Service. The Grass Crew still grows plants for off-campus contracts and outside purchases, but is now focusing on what we can do for the campus.
The Native Plants Crew has begun it's three year endeavor to grow over 30,000 native plants that will be used by National Forests in North Carolina in large scale restoration and research projects. To learn more about this great opportunity, click on the link below.
In addition to working with the general landscaping crew and the landscape design crew to grow and maintain native plants all over campus in areas such as the Formal Gardens or outside the Log Cabin, the native plants crew has taken on and maintained five major campus projects.
The Arboretum Field
This native plants sanctuary is a great place to learn the names of some of our commonly used plants, like Coreopsis, or our more exotic ones, Rattlesnake Master. Come by in Spring and Summer to watch the Monarch Caterpillars on the Milkweed and Butterflyweed.
Most recently, landscaping removed the grass from this hill and created a designed native plants landscape. It was time consuming and took all of landscaping to do it, but within five months an entirely new hill appeared predominantly featuring Tridens Flavus, or Purple Top, as well as Hey-Scented Ferns, Bottlebrush, River Oats and the recognizable Heart-Shaped Aster.
Jensen After Planting
The Finished Hill
Starting in Summer 2008, the entire landscaping crew worked to convert the grass on this hill in front of Morse and Witherspoon to native plants. Now this area contains a large variety of native grass species and wildflowers including Bottlebrush grass, Purple Cone Flower, and the less common Rattlesnake Master. This time of year it is an wonderful place for bird watching, as many of our local genotypes provide excellent seeds and forage material.
After work day two years ago, the fox pond has never looked better. This is the best area to look at a variety of native plants in their natural landscape.
The conversion to native grasses in the medians in the Kitteredge parking lot has been a great success.
This native grass arboretum across from the log cabin features some wonderful (and labeled) plants.