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Little House on the Suburban Prairie

By SongofJoy
February 16, 2012

America has become a nation of suburbs and now exurbs. There's no getting around it. More Americans live there than anywhere else these days. But does that mean we all need to have a parcel of ground with a solitary shade tree in the front yard and a patch of lawn to manicure? I hope not.

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Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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flaflwrgrl
Feb 15, 2012 9:12 PM CST
That's exactly what I plan to do with our place. It makes things beautiful, the flutter bys, the bees & the birds all get something they love & need and we humans don't have to pollute the air with foul emissions or noise. We can sit back & listen to the sounds of the birds singing & the bees buzzing.

I do not understand this obsession with sod. It isn't natural; that's why we have to work so hard & spend so much time & energy to keep it looking nice.

Lovely article Tee. I love your start on your suburban prairie!
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
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Bubbles
Feb 15, 2012 9:52 PM CST
I had forgotten all about white star grass. I pulled some out of the creek for my pond years ago. Don't know when it disappeared, but I'm going to go find some more this weekend. I had no idea it would grow on land. I'll be looking forward to your garden transformation. Good history lesson/article!
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Feb 16, 2012 4:40 AM CST
Thanks, Ann and Sandi, I'm lovin' this project so we'll see how it goes. It's just so much easier to work with Mother Nature than against her.

Lucky you that you could find some white star in the wild, Sandi. I love the look of that white star grass and am anxious to plant it. I was going to say, "as soon as the weather warms up". But it's 60ยบ today! I've got a year-round damp/wet area by the back fence since there is a seasonal stream behind it ... it will go there along with some rushes and a few other things. Any other suggestions for occasionally very wet areas? Not boggy, just a flow-through for a lot of water occasionally, especially during the Spring.

Ann, will you be starting from scratch, so to speak, or will you clear land?

Sod, ack. It was the norm in CA ... not the cheapest thing but still the norm ... followed closely behind by the notorious sod webworm happily munching out on all that $$ people had just put in.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Feb 16, 2012 5:26 AM CST
Tee, follow the link & you can see what I did on our small lot in town & then at the end you can see what I will be working with in our new location.

http://garden.org/articles/view/Sharon/229/Garden-Tours-flaf...
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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SongofJoy
Feb 16, 2012 6:51 AM CST
Thanks. I remember the tour (very nice) but I didn't remember the end of it. Lovey dubby

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Feb 16, 2012 7:24 AM CST
Thumbs up
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
Feb 16, 2012 11:35 AM CST
Lovely article Tee! You are so right about the Cali suburbs and the very manicured and limited plants at times...especially in new developments, a specified list of plants allowed, needs permission and so forth and so on, otherwise issues with the HOA. I guess the rationale behind is that some people do not have the time to put in maintaining the yard, which a sod would still require anyways..all the more for other plants. And the on and off drought conditions, plus I think they are also trying to encourage less fire prone vegetation around the homes, especially those along the hillsides.

Ah but I love your article! A wondeful insight how plants adds color to our homes and our lives Lovey dubby
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Feb 16, 2012 12:04 PM CST
I agree with you, tarev. In most instances the HOAs are just trying to keep things looking "nice" (from their point of view) and hold up the property values. The uniformity gets a bit overwhelming at times though, IMHO.

We were up on top of our second story wood shake roof once in San Diego with hose in hand as Santa Ana wind-driven fire came over the hill in front of us. Yes, it's scary. Of course, now it's against the building codes there to use wood shakes on roofs or anywhere else. The rest of the house was stucco, but we did have big Eucalyptus trees right alongside our property. And you know how those can literally explode with fire. The winds turned at the last minute and the nearest home that burned was just over the ridge of the hill, down the canyon a little way. Fires are definitely scary. You just never know for sure which way they will go.

Thanks for commenting. Green Grin!
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
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tarev
Feb 16, 2012 12:24 PM CST
So true Tee! Too cookie cutter in HOA communities Big Grin

I missed seeing actual prairie land, we lived for awhile in Winnipeg, and outside the city perimeter it was so lovely to drive and see huge swaths of praireland especially when the short spring and summer comes about...feels like magic to me, after the 6-month white stuff, and all those dancing prairie fields comes to life! Big Grin
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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SongofJoy
Feb 16, 2012 12:26 PM CST
Lovey dubby
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Feb 16, 2012 12:27 PM CST
Oh My! That would be a very scary situation Tee!
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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SongofJoy
Feb 16, 2012 12:38 PM CST
'Twas indeed, Ann. The police helicopter was overhead telling everyone to evacuate. DH said nope he wasn't going. So up on the shake roof we went with the hose. Good thing there was still water to wet it down. But in the end, all was well. Not for everyone nearby though. Sad
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
Image
tarev
Feb 16, 2012 2:11 PM CST
I remember my friend in San Diego saying during the last time they had a series of big fire over there, that a reverse 911 call was being made to homeowners in grave danger of fire. And the last time, all their different family members & pets converged to their home, since theirs is the one nearer to the coast line and all the rest were from the inland side where the fire was raging. All that they can do before the family members left their homes was to make a digital inventory of their homes & contents for insurance purposes later if needed..the other family did not even have time to do it, just have to hie off and leave at dawn when the patio tarps suddenly got engulfed by ambers brought about by the winds.

San Diego is a very nice place, but at times it feels a bit deceiving especially when the threat of wildfire does exist. I like the area, especially to grow lots of tropicals, succulents, orchids...ah plant heaven..just douse that lurking inferno. What annoys me most, later finding out some of those fires should not have happened in the first place, especially if caused by indiscriminate and neglectful people.

Oops..got a bit off track your prairieland project..plants in all forms still gets high marks for me Lovey dubby
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Salvias Herbs Bluebonnets Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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LindaTX8
Feb 16, 2012 2:51 PM CST
Scary, those wildfires! So many people have lost their homes in Texas recently. I heard lately that there is concern about an endangered kind of toad that used to be common near Bastrop, TX and they won't know if that species is going to recover after the fires until later this year. I can't really have a true prairie here because I'm in a hilly area and the so-called 'soil' here is different, but many kinds of prairie-type plants can grow here...grasses and forbs, especially.
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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SongofJoy
Feb 16, 2012 3:34 PM CST
I love the grasses (and forbs too). To me, some of the grasses are what just scream prairie. Lovey dubby
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller

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