I had a long awaited meeting with West Monroe, Louisiana’s Mayor Dave Norris, Parks Director Doug Seegers, and Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharjee yesterday. It was a year and a half in the works. The question was, will the Mayor sign-off on a scientifically designed wildflower garden devised by Dr. Joydeep, installed and managed by yours truly, for Kiroli Park, the crown jewel of the West Monroe Park system.
The answer from his honor, the Mayor, was a resounding YES!!!!
Mayor Dave Norris has been mayor of West Monroe for over thirty five years. He seemed a very personable, kind and wise man.
Dr. Bhattacharjee is a plant and restoration Ecologist at the University of Louisiana, Monroe. He and I have been discussing the design concept for project and finally got the chance to present it to the Mayor. The design is “aimed at evaluating recolonization potential of prairie species in open fields”. Nice! 🙂
These experiments will be subtly built into a colorful, flowery Bluestem grass garden where he and his students will set up study plots within the planting to collect information on the planting’s establishment and development over time. They’ll do what scientists do, collect and analyze data.
Meanwhile, the estimated 140,000 people who visit the Park each year will be the beneficiaries of a cool rare-plant native wildflower garden.
I consider Joydeep’s garden design to be high art. I wish I could show it here but he wants to hone it more before divulging it to the world. That’ll come later. I’ll let him do the honor when the time comes.
above: Dr, Joydeep Bhattacharjee, Associate Professor Plant and Restoration Ecology, University of Louisiana, Monroe.
Kiroli Park is sixty acres loaded with wonderfully old second-growth upland Pine and bottomland Cypress-Gum forest habitat remnants that have been sadly separated for many years from their cousins, the native flowering herbs and grasses. This news should put smiles on those old trees’ faces. This thought harkens me back to the old Peaches and Herb singing duo’s song lyrics, “reunited and it feels so good!”
What is particularly special about our meeting yesterday is that we also got permission to manage the flower garden with controlled burns. The fire will encourage natural succession to occur progressively over time, revealing the most delicate and beautiful flowering plants within the seed collection.
Without fire, a prairie is just a faux meadow.
With fire, its a biodiversity garden: a micro-prairie.
Go! Dr. Joydeep!!!