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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - May 14, 2008

From: Williamston, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Planning a park along a railroad track in Williamston, SC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a railroad track in Williamston, and we are cleaning up the park. Removing trees, planting flowers,shrubs. The track is on high ground and the Fire Dept. has burnt off the weeds. What kind of flowers could we plant on this large hill that would cover it and come back every year? It would be beautiful to do something for this because you can see it clearly from the park and the road. And it there an organization that could help with the seeds?

ANSWER:

That sounds like a wonderful project, part reclamation and part new parkland. We'd like to suggest a meadow garden, with native plants that will be low maintenance and adapted to your region. In our How-To Articles we have an excellent piece on Meadow Gardening which we urge you to read. An important point made in that article is that just sprinkling seeds is not the whole answer. We are going to go to Recommended Species for South Carolina and give you a list of recommended herbaceous plants (herbs), and shrubs. We also will list some grasses that should work well there. Some of the suggested plants will be annual but self-seeding, and some perennial, so there will be return and increase of coverage every year. By using some evergreen shrubs and grasses that hold their place virtually year-round, you can develop an area that is never without some color and interest. When you look at the lists, click on the Latin name, which is a link to take you to a page of information, including propagation, whether it's evergreen, annual or perennial, etc.

In terms of help with the seeds, here is a list of Native Plant Suppliers in your area which provide seed. If you mean financial help with purchasing the seeds, we don't know of any national organization that does this sort of thing, although there may be some. However, you could probably get help locally by contacting garden clubs, nearby landowners, maybe even the owner of the railroad tracks. You might also contact the Native Plant Society of South Carolina, which may have some contacts on organizations with funds for that sort of project.

Suggested Grass and Grass-like Plants for South Carolina

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

 

 

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