I spun a lousy fishing trip into a stroll among a hundred acres of unbroken prairie with the same soil characteristics as my half-acre, thinking it might provide some template for planting the property.
The ragged grassland looked out of place up close, hemmed in on all sides by neat rows of corn and wheat pocked with farmhouse lots with manicured fescue lawns dotted with beds of iris and peony. The needlelike leaves of sedges, blue-gray mounds of cream indigo, rough lumps of blackberry and prairie rose were incongruous up close. Letting your eyes wander out thirty, fifty, a hundred yards though, and it melded into a knee-deep blanket of green mounted with pale pink spires of shooting star. There’s something soothing about early season prairie, manageable vegetation and clean lines of sight offering some primal sense of security. I wondered how much effort goes into winnowing down the 250 native plants found here to only a handful of mostly exotics.