Updated: 4 days ago
I HAD AN EPIPHANY IN EARLY DECEMBER. It came to me after I saw the strong winds jostle leaves and seed heads here and there on a substantial clump of American beach grass that I had come upon during my walk (Ammophila breviligulata). It was a spectacular sight especially with the grasses reflecting the morning sunlight along Beulah Beach.
The seed head panicles bent and brushed the sand in the strong winds off Crystal Lake. I squinted my eyes and paused for just a moment as a thought came to me with such clarity. I visualized the use of beach grass in specialty dune-like landscapes where they would add character, function, and contrasting aesthetics.
Whoa. It hit me right between the eyes.
The stand of grasses had persisted from a fall planting four years earlier during a village landscape project that surprisingly put a local person into a tizzy. This person went around pulling up many of the newly planted culms of beach grasses announcing to all, “They aren’t native.” Yikes, neither are you was my thought. I avoided her protests by zig-zagging around her. I continued my walking and recalled the days of female protesters who were burning their bras. I'm sure she was actively involved in that long ago movement. Good news! She's no longer around and the grasses have recovered and flourished nicely due to deep roots and rhizomes that nature has gifted them to persist in sand.
This visual experience of the grasses is much like what the olfactory senses do to me in recalling a particular setting. Pine pitch seems to be that favored scent for me and it elicits my greatest memories of northern Michigan; especially after exiting our station wagon arriving at Old Orchard Inn on Glen Lake in the 1950s. The effect of the pine aroma around our cabins was mesmerizing. It must have something to do with endorphins being stimulated in our pleasure centers being associated with these happy memories.
What hit me here in December was imagining the use of American beach grass (also called manna grass) in specialty dune-like landscapes. With my interest in golf, traps and bunkers are the natural candidate to incorporate their use with their proven persistence and their absolute ornamental beauty. It makes me believe they could be successfully placed into tufts and mounds featured in and around sand traps.
This landscape feature could also be duplicated on residential properties and in parks and on trails along M-22 in mini-dune displays; but my first interest is in adding these features to area golf courses. I can't wait to discuss this with Greg Martin, the renowned Chicago landscape architect and golf course renovation specialist. He's the designer, I'm the plantsman. How fun this could be.
More will surely arise from this epiphany.
Merriam-Webster. Epiphany -"A moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way."