Volunteers and guests often ask, “what do you guys do in the winter”? So, I decided to write a little bit about the first winter project I worked on last year. I may have mentioned in past articles that one of my responsibilities at Wellfield is to watch over the Woodland Conservation Garden. Last winter, I was given the task of being the head of our new wetland conservation project. It is a plan started by our former Horticulture Manager to put a spotlight on rare/threatened/endangered species of our native Indiana wetlands.
The goal of the project is to work with Orbis (the same environmental company that monitors our Woodland Conservation Garden) to grow five or six native endangered wetland plants on our property. Ideally, the plants will thrive, and we will be able to give people access to study them and save them from potentially being lost from nature. The aesthetics of our plants are normally the number one priority in our gardens. Placement is based on looks and not where a plant might grow best. This is the first Wellfield project where the top goal is happy plants, regardless of where that is.
With that being said, the goal is to have them in a future garden that focuses on wetland plants specifically, where we can really highlight them in their own garden. But with conservation being the number one goal of this project, you might see them on any random shoreline in the garden.
The first step of this project is for Orbis to take a survey of the shorelines and see what plants are already here. Maybe we already have a rare plant hiding in here! It will also give us an idea of what types of conditions these areas have. The second step of this project will be to receive the plants from Orbis and begin growing them in containers. We will try to grow them safely in a protected area first and then transplant them out into the garden. It sounds easy enough, but unfortunately, these plants are endangered for a reason.
Some of these plants you may have heard of or heard of relatives of them. Wild rice, for example, is one of the plants we plan to grow. A lot of people have heard of Wild Rice, but do not know that it is struggling to survive in Indiana. We also plan to grow a variegated yellow water lily, spotted pondweed, and two species of a carnivorous plant called a bladderwort. All of these plants like to grow in very slow moving water, which works out well with all of our ponds. These plants might not be the prettiest, but a few of them still have nice flowers that will be seen poking up through the water.
I would like to finish by saying thank you to our donors who helped us fund this project. I look forward to seeing this project really get started this year. There is a bit more planning to be done and a bit of luck needed with some finicky plants. We will keep you updated on our progress. Soon, there will be another great reason to come visit Wellfield!
Cody Hoff, Lead Horticulturist