Poplar Heights Awarded Grant
From Missouri Prairie Foundation
For Native Prairie Gardens
The Missouri Prairie Foundation launched its new Prairie Gardens Small Grant Program in 2012. Poplar Heights Farm was selected the recipient of their first ever grant. We planted four gardens featuring native Missouri forbs and grasses which would have grown on our prairie lands in the 1800's.
The large garden is adjacent to the Learning Center. A border of limestone blocks, the original Main House foundation stones, outlines three sides of the garden. The fourth side is fenced with recovered osage orange fence posts used over 100 years ago on the Farm. Entering thru the fenced gate on the west side, a pebbled path leads to the center of the garden with a large hand carved field stone birdbath. Native prairie plants are all labeled with both common and botanical names and range from Marsh Mallows to Black Eyed Susans along with Little Bluestem grasses.
The three mini gardens are at stopping points along the walking trails on the Farm. Each garden features a stone bench using the foundation stones from the Main House and different native prairie plants. One garden is at the old windmill in the northeast pasture. One garden is on the peninsula of the wildlife pond in the northwest field. The third garden is at the end of the pine forest on the wagon trail.
All four gardens have educational signage explaining different aspects of prairie ecosystems. At the Learning Center is a display of a prairie ecosystem, a resource guide book showing native plants found on Poplar Heights Farm and expanded details on prairie plants benefits and their role in the overall ecosystem of our area.
Construction began on the gardens in late April, 2012 and a formal ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the Taste-The Flavors of Yesterday event in September. Members of the Missouri Prairie Foundation were on hand for the ribbon cutting and a tour of the gardens. Missouri Master Gardener Melissa Phillips oversaw the design and planting of the gardens. A team of dedicated volunteers tended, watered and weeded.
Next to the Native Prairie Garden, volunteers and staff put in a "Plow Garden" to showcase plants that came with the settlers. For 8,000 years the native prairie ecosystem stretched across the middle of the United States. With John Deere's development of the steel plow, settlers plowed up the prairies and today less than 1% of this huge ecosystem remains. A small section of native prairie remains on Poplar Heights Farm and is being restored through controlled burns and removal of invasive new plants.
Poplar Heights Farm thanks the Missouri Prairie Foundation for their grant and making these demonstration gardens possible. Visitors are encouraged to visit the gardens and the resources on prairies at the Learning Center.
The Missouri Prairie Foundation was founded in 1966 by a small group of conservation professionals and volunteers who were concerned about the rapid decline of greater prairie-chickens and the degradation and loss of grassland habitat throughout the state. Since that time, MPF has grown and developed with several goals in mind, including the permanent protection of prairie habitat and the need for greater understanding of the role of native grasslands in wildlife conservation, energy security and carbon storage. What began as an all-volunteer advocacy group has grown into an organization that both owns and/or manages nearly 4,000 acres of land, produces one of North American's only magazines on native grasslands and has more than 1,500+ members---and continues to advocate for state-wide prairie protection.