Student internship project
The Grass Garden
In spring 2013, CAHNRS provided special funding for a student internship project to design and install the fourth phase of the Display Garden – the Grass Garden. Luke Vannice (’14), a WSU Landscape Architecture senior, was selected for the project.
For his internship, Vannice was responsible for developing, designing, and installing a garden of ornamental grasses in the existing empty planting beds west of the Shade Garden. A grass garden had been envisioned for the area in the original Display Garden conceptual plan (below, section “A”).
The long, concrete-curbed beds were once used to grow cut flowers, such as chrysanthemums and roses, in the old Horticulture greenhouses. Vannice was asked to design a grass garden with consideration for the Garden’s overall conceptual plan, existing site conditions, environmental sustainability, and its appropriateness in the urban campus landscape.
Prior to planting, Vannice conducted a site inventory and analysis (below), and he worked closely with his mentors to research and select potential plants. He was challenged to utilize a relatively limited, yet interesting, plant palette to create a contemporary design that would have maximum impact within the planting space.
Vannice designed the planting plan using site-appropriate perennial plants and small-statured shade trees selected for their aesthetic characteristics, potential invasiveness, future maintenance considerations, and local availability. His primary goal was to select plants that would exhibit interesting characteristics in all seasons. Features such as plant shape, color, texture, motion (with wind), and flowering were considered. Vannice worked with local nurseries to obtain plants and select alternate species and cultivars, if his first choices were unavailable.
The Grass Garden utilizes the surrounding lawn irrigation system and requires little supplemental water. Vannice won a Crimson Award (highest honor) for his presentation summarizing his internship in Spring 2014 at the WSU Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA).
Grass garden plants
(All illustrations © Luke Vannice, 2013)