Our plant trial garden

Last Friday night was one of the highlights of my life. The grand opening of our new 5,000 sq. ft. experimental garden in our arboretum, the Plantery. This project has been in the works since we applied for a $30,000 grant from the Centre for Applied Research and Rural Innovation last fall. We requested funds to build a test garden to evaluate native herbs in the Southeast, similar to the gardens you see at the Chicago Botanic Garden or the Mount Cuba Centre. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of hours went into this project, but we are very proud to be able to make it available to the public.

I will be posting a more detailed post sometime in the future, but I can provide a brief design summary. Since the site is sloped, we decided to build a terrace out of 1/4″ metal similar to weathering steel, with steps offset across the middle and a platform near the top. Our aesthetic for the plantation was to make the space look like a reclaimed farm, since we are part of the Department of Agriculture, and when the metal patinaed, the coppery green would fit perfectly with the landscape. They have five large terraces, allowing us to repeat the trials with locals over three years, and the space around them will have less formalised assessments of the species. Perforated pipes were installed and covered with gravel to capture rainwater on site so the terraces don’t turn into Plantery waterfall gardens.

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