Apiary Studio
Posted on March 21, 2019 by Hans on Experimentation

The Gurney Street Seeding Experiment

In partnership with HACE and N.4TH, Apiary Studio designed and installed 18 seed testing plots along the Conrail railroad gulch in North Kensington as a means of testing what plants might survive the conditions there and possibly help to inform future revegetation efforts. This will be an ongoing experimental trial for 2019.

As we began the work of delineating each bed in February, passersby were relieved to learn that we were not intending to grow vegetables in them, though we feel it’s important to envision a future where the soil along the corridor is clean enough that that’s not such a distant reality. At present, all of the vegetation has been razed to the ground and covered with a thick treatment of wood chips or asphalt millings along the slope, or bare soil along the top of its banks. There’s an opportunity to imagine the viaduct as a verdant swale that cuts through the heart of Kensington and Fairhill, improving air quality and visual interest, and maximizing the potential of what is ultimately an expansive marginal landscape.

The 18 plots were split into three soil type groups: existing topsoil, existing crushed asphalt millings, and asphalt millings treated with elemental sulphur to bring down pH. Initial soil tests revealed that the samples were surprisingly high in organic matter, but rather alkaline. Each plot is a 72sf bed delineated with lumber set into the ground at grade.

Six different seed mixes were applied to each of the three soil testing groups. We applied 250 seeds per square foot, with 60% forbs and 40% grasses. The seed mixes combine strictly local genotypes in some blends, with mixtures of native and non-native taxa in others. Some plots will be planted with landscape plugs as an alternative to direct seeding to determine the efficacy of this method. All taxa were selected for their tolerance to drought and high pH soil, with the additional condition that the mature height be below 18” to retain safe sight lines. Seeds were sown directly in early March 2019 in order to capture spring rainfall, and plugs will be installed in April 2019. No supplemental irrigation will be applied.

Blend A

Eragrostis trichoides | Sand Love Grass | Seed
Bouteloua gracilis |Blue Grama | Seed
Buchloe dactyloides Buffalograss |Seed

Eryngium yuccafolium | Rattlesnake Master | Seed
Dalea purpurea | Purple Prairie Clover | Seed
Echinacea pallida | Pale Purple Coneflower | Seed
Drymocallis arguta | Tall Cinquefoil | Seed
Argemone polyanthemos | Prickle Poppy | Seed
Allium unifolium | One-leaf Onion | Bulb
Symphyotrichum oolentangiense | Skyblue Aster | Seed
Solidago nemoralis | Old Field Goldenrod | Seed
Callirhoe involucrata | Purple Poppy Mallow | Seed
Pulsatilla patens | Eastern Pasqueflower | Seed

Blend B

Schizachyrium scoparium | Little Bluestem | Seed
Koeleria macrantha | Junegrass | Seed
Danthonia spicata | Poverty Oat Grass | Seed

Liatris aspera | Button Blazing Star | Seed
Yucca glauca | Soapwort | Seed
Artemisia ludoviciana | Silver Wormwood | Seed
Pulsatilla patens | Eastern Pasqueflower | Seed
Monarda punctata | Spotted Beebalm | Seed
Anaphalis margaritacea | Pearly Everlasting | Seed
Symphyotrichum | Pilosum Frost Aster | Seed
Solidago nemoralis | Old Field Goldenrod | Seed
Asclepias tuberosa | Buterfly Weed | Seed
Dalea villosa | Silky Prairie Clover | Seed

Blend C

Nassella tenuissima | Mexican Feather Grass | Seed
Bouteloua gracilis | Blue Grama | Seed
Buchloe dactyloides | Buffalograss | Seed

Achillea millefolium | Yarrow | Seed
Leucanthemum vulgare | Oxeye Daisy | Seed
Verbascum thapsis | Mullein | Seed
Euphorbia corollata | Flowering Spurge | Seed
Ratibida columnifera | Long-headed Coneflower | Seed
Daucus carota | Queen Anne’s Lace | Seed
Papaver rupifragum | Spanish Poppy | Seed
Linaria vulgaris | Toadflax | Seed
Tragopogon porrifolius | Salsify | Seed
Trifolium fragiferum | Strawberry Clover | Seed

Blend D

Sporobolus heterolepis | Prairie Dropseed | Plug
Koeleria macrantha | Junegrass | Plug
Bouteloua curtipendula | Sideoats Grama | Seed
Danthonia spicata | Poverty Oat Grass | Seed

Amorpha canescens | Leadplant | Gallon
Eryngium yuccafolium | Rattlesnake Master | Seed
Dalea villosa | Silky Prairie Clover | Plug
Asclepias tuberosa | Buterfly Weed | Seed
Pulsatilla patens | Eastern Pasqueflower | Plug
Echinacea pallida | Pale Purple Coneflower | Seed
Rudbeckia maxima | Large Coneflower | Plug
Solidago x ‘Little Lemon’ |  Goldenrod | Plug
Symphyotrichum oolentangiense | Skyblue Aster | Seed
Vaccinium angistifolium | Highbush Blueberry | Gallon

Blend E

Schizachyrium scoparium | Little bluestem | Plug
Eragrostis trichoides | Sand love grass | Plug

Artemisia ludoviciana | Silver Wormwood | Seed
Tragopogon porrifolius | Salsify | Seed
Crambe maritima | Sea Kale | Plug
Dianthus carthusianorum | Carthusian Pink | Seed
Lotus corniculatus | Birdfoot Trefoil | Seed
Allium unifolium | One-leaf Onion | Bulb
Comptonia peregrina | Sweetfern | Gallon
Linaria vulgaris | Toadflax | Seed
Foeniculum vulgare var. purpureum | Bronze Fennel | Seed
Eschscholzia californica | California Poppy | Seed
Verbascum thapsis | Mullein | Seed
Silene vulgaris | Common Bladderwort | Seed
Silphium terebinthinaceum | Prairie Dock | Plug
Seseli gummiferum | Moon Carrot | Plug

Blend F

Festuca ovina | Sheep Fescue | Seed

“Blend” F is a single seed type to test the viability of a turf type grass monoculture.

Please check back as the season progresses for updates and, we hope, some success stories and gorgeous tough plant combinations too.