Clump of grass

The Grass Garden

            They hired Timothy because of his reputation as an innovator in landscape architecture.  And, because they could well afford him: the extremely generous grant from the Morton family assured that the open land just south of downtown could be a showcase of natural beauty.  Timothy was said to be influenced by the classic sweeping borders of “Capability” Brown, that giant in English gardening history.  Timothy might snake a hedge along winding pathways.  Maybe a labyrinth, or a circular path festooned with a rainbow of color.  Though the climate was dry, the endowment could afford irrigation, a sprinkler system, fresh mulches each year to hold moisture and release nutrients not always present in Central Kansas soils. 
            Nobody was prepared for Timothy’s grass garden.  Eighteen species, one for each incorporated town in the county.  Grasses to wave, to shoot up plumes, to head, to droop with the weight of seeds.  Bluestem, switch, dropseed, Indian, wheatgrass and tufted hair.  “I’ve fallen in love with the names alone,” reported Timothy to the planning committee.  “Remember, humans first became human, two-legged creatures in grasslands.  Imagine how people will feel being drawn into grass.  The subtle shades of green, the rusts, browns, siennas of fall, the heads poking up through winter snow.” 
            Hands shot up.  No flowers, bushes, trees?  No scents of lavender, lilac, magnolia or rose? 
            “Imagine texture,” Timothy said.  “The shapely thin reed grass next to the flat broad leaves of Indian grass.  Watch what your abundance of wind can do to such eager stalks.” 
            They refused to imagine.  In their wisdom they cut their losses, paid Timothy for his trouble, and hired a horticulturist from the junior college, who lived up to their expectations.
             Today, only the grasses in the ditches wave to passersby, trying to help them feel at home in a landscape so dominated by sky.  Wild oats bow their heads on the road to the Morton Botanical Garden, where visitors will see expensive beauty, primped and poised.  Expensively designed and maintained.  As travelers leave, the heads of bluestem at the side of the road nod, as though acknowledging their passing.

 "The Grass Garden" first appeared in seveneightfive











Stone with word "me" carved in it


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Clump of grass

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