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TOM STUART-SMITH HOME GARDEN – 2011

Toms “prairie field” covers approximately 2000m², with a discontinuity of soil type across the site, the lower area is clayey, the upper much sandier and free draining. To accommodate this I designed two seed mixes, that share a core group of species, so as to allow for site difference but maintain some visual coherence across the organically shaped sowing  areas.  The vegetation is a North American-South African hybrid with a small number of Eurasian species also present.  Perhaps because of too frequent irrigation during the spring 2011 germination window Toms site experienced massive levels of worm casting, breaching the sand mulch surface and depositing many weed seeds on the surface.  Consequently maintenance was much more intensive than normal in the first year.  As a highly skilled planting designer, Tom continues to shape the evolving vegetation adding new species and reducing the density of any species that become too competitive, such as Aster oblongifolius.


June 2011, 6 months post sowing
June 2011, 6 months post sowing


September 2011 (10 months after sowing)
September 2011 (10 months after sowing) The pale orange flowers are the perennial hemi-parasite, Castilleja integra.


June 2013
The first major wave of colour in the year is the European Dianthus carthusianorum. This species was only sown on the sandier soils.


September 2nd 2013
By early September the dianthus is only visible as brown seed heads, and the North American prairie species are at their peak. The vegetation in the foreground is the sandy soil community, and that in the distance the clay soil community.

September 2nd 2013
A close up of the structure in early September

September 2nd 2013
One of the most dramatic species in early September is Liatris pycnostachya, the tall blazing star.

The mown grass paths and nodes create a series of gathering spaces within 1m tall, mean height of the prairie.


September 2nd 2013
South African Kniphofia uvaria (in orange) provide striking contrast to the Prairie species but are otherwise very compatible as members of the community, even tolerating spring flash burning over as a weed control technique.  They are much less numerous than expected; seedlings are likely to have been confused with weed grasses and accidentally weeded out in the first year.