In the spring of 2018 I was awarded a $3,000 grant from the Landscape Architecture Canada Foundation to explore different approaches for creating resilient perennial plantings in urban public spaces.
I've been learning about novel European approaches for creating sustainable urban plant communities for years, including a trip to Sweden for a conference on the subject in September 2017. The Growing Grit project allows me to to explore these ideas in depth in a real-world experiment.
Some of the approaches being used in Europe include growing plants in deep mineral mulches ( such as gravel or sand ), or artificial substrates ( like engineered green roof soils ) as a way of both reducing soil fertility, which allows for the creation of much more diverse plant communities, and reducing the potential for weed invasions. Taken together these qualities could enable the creation of designed plantings that are very simple to manage over the long term by maintenance crews who may not have advanced horticultural training.
In May 2018 I established a trial garden at an elementary school in Prince Edward County to explore how a range of different plant species ( herbaceous perennials, grasses, and bulbs ) perform in our Ontario climate in a range of different substrates ( green roof soils, gravel, sand, and recycled concrete aggregate mixed with compost ). A second phase of building to further test different plant species and substrates was established in September. The results from the trial garden will yield valuable information that can be adopted in landscape architecture practice to encourage the spread of beautiful, biodiverse and resilient designed plantings.
Press release from the Landscape Architecture Canada Foundation here.
View the grant application here.