Thanks to a grant from Ann Arbor Farm & Garden, many native perennials and woody plants were planted this summer in various garden display spaces at Matthaei.
Horticulture Technician Kayla Wanous, who worked on the grant proposal with other staff, explained that the grant came through in January 2020, just a few weeks before everything fell apart with the pandemic and Matthaei closed.
By late summer, Kayla said, she and other staff could turn their attention to the project and begin putting the plants in the ground. As a side note, this is especially impressive in light of the challenges of a shutdown, the cancellation of the summer intern program, and the suspension of the volunteer program. Kayla and other staff members conducted regular workdays where staff signed up to perform socially distanced maintenance of the display gardens.
Scroll down for an explanation of the projects and a photo gallery of some of the planting work.
  • Outside the metal gate to the Gateway Garden, between the gate and the terrace, is a rock wall with a raised bed that previously had a few natives, many weedy plants, and a honeysuckle shrub. We took all of that out and planted a variety of natives and native cultivars including maidenhair ferns, royal ferns, foamflower, and great blue lobelia. 
  • The sitting garden, located just outside the Gateway Garden on the way to the broad grass strip known as the commons, was almost completely replanted apart from large woody plants. Caarmen Leskoviansky, collections and natural areas specialist, designed the placement of the new plants, among them serviceberry, Amsonia hubrichtii, goatsbeard, phlox, and foamflower!
  • We added about 30 plants to the perennial garden to fill in some holes that had developed and to break up large clumps of single plants that had formed over time. These perennials include variegated solomon’s seal, hairy beardtongue, anemone, and agastache.
  • The last project was planting five larch trees, each 10′-12′ tall, behind the wedding arch in the perennial garden to provide a more attractive screen than the bamboo fence that we have been using. We chose larches because they are a unique native tree and the fall color (yellow) complements the red of the oak leaf hydrangea. These trees were significantly larger than any we’d previously planted. The large holes required to accommodate the trees were dug with a 36″ auger attached to the ToolCat and the trees were moved off the trailer and into the holes using a sling attached to the forks of the tractor. 
The perennials used in all the projects were purchased from nearby Northfield Farms. The serviceberry and larch trees were purchased from Gee Farms in Stockbridge, Mich. 
Ann Arbor Farm & Garden is a longtime supporter of Matthaei-Nichols. Over the years the organization has provided support for many projects and for the Matthaei-Nichols summer intern program.