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As we mentioned in a previous post, the conservancy has embarked upon a project to develop a demonstration garden project at Dewey Square.  There are four parts to the project:

  1. Pollinator Garden
  2. Raised Edible Garden & Outdoor Classroom
  3. Rain Garden
  4. Urban Composting Area

Sunflowers at Dewey Square, Summer 2011

We’ll be exploring each of these project components in greater depth. To learn more about the four-season interest garden, we stopped by to talk with Darrah, part of the horticulture team at the conservancy.

Darrah, what’s the goal for the demonstration garden?

We want the garden to serve as a great example of a sustainable and beautiful urban space.  We have raised vegetable beds, pollinator plants to attract beneficial insects, native plants of the Northeast USA, unusual edible plants and shrubs, and even wildlife habitat. The goal is to create a space that is visually lively all year round and provides an educational playground for sustainable garden practices.   With that combination, we can create a learning laboratory for our Green and Grow apprentices, interns and members of the public who enjoy the Greenway every day.

What’s the process you followed to choose the right mix of plants?

I started by thinking about bold colors, four season edibles, and structure, factoring in the garden site limitations as well as the ecological principals we wanted to illustrate.  I worked with our Green and Grow apprentices to select pollinator plants and annuals, including 12 varieties of sunflowers.

By pairing selected color combinations with bloom sequences, heights and textures, we soon had a full palette of plants.  Then, I brought out my red editing pen and put on my maintenance hat. By carefully considering maintenance needs, budget and plant availability, I refined the initial design to a workable plan.

What role is the seemingly crazy weather playing in all of this?

The weather has not affected the planning process very much yet.  I am sure it will have an impact on what plants are ready at the nurseries in mid April.

Tell us a bit on how you came to work at the conservancy?

I worked at a wonderful rare plant nursery on the west coast for ten years, then 8 years working in private gardens and estates in Seattle, Maine and the North Shore.  I was ready for a change of scene, and keen to work in a more public arena. The Greenway parks are new, still changing and developing, offering me an excellent opportunity and challenge to work in a dynamic, urban, and energized environment.

What’s your favorite plant(s) that you are looking forward to seeing in the demonstration garden?

There is never ONE favorite ! Look for dahlias, cardoons, new butterfly bushes and maybe a giant pumpkin as the season progresses.