Here is a segment of the Green Alley, drawn by Woody Melcher, so you can see each part of the future walkway up close. The middle will be lined with sections of concrete and historic brick, surrounded by permeable pavers (open-weave concrete pavers that you plant ground cover in – strong enough for trucks, but able to drain water back into the ground), and all of this will be bordered by 3-ft and 5-ft garden beds.
We spent quite a bit of time this fall planning which plants will go into these beds. There’s quite a bit of of room – the alley extends 220 ft – so we had an extensive palatte to work with. Our goal was 90% Michigan natives, and we have met that goal easily. The only plants that we currently know will not be native are the spring bulbs, and we’re adding those simply because we love them. On the native side, the plants will range from flowers like bee balm and black-eyed Susans to shrubs like the bleeding heart and swamp rose to grasses and vines. The complete list is here.
In case you’re wondering why we’re so focused on natives, here’s the story. Plants that are native to an area have developed root systems that match the climate they are accustomed to. So they require limited hand watering, don’t require special fertilization programs, and support the area’s wildlife. And they come back every year! So when we plant our butterfly weed plants, we’ll know that they have done well in Michigan for decades, if not centuries, and will not only provide a beautiful landscape for us to enjoy, but a home for our Michigan butterflies. We all win.