Friday, July 15, 2011

July Prairie Garden

The Prairie Garden has finally reached a condition of near respectability in the eyes of most people. Many don’t tolerate that period of growth necessary for the plant to reach flowering stage. This is the view seen from the direction of the road.

I suppose the garden would appear better tended if I had the border neatly identified with a traditional stone or wood decoration instead of having everything just spilling into the grass. Since the native plants insist on claiming a little more of my yard each year, a fixed boundary would be impractical. This is the view from the driveway.

The Prairie Garden has really developed a diverse mix of species. When I started the garden 16 years ago, I called it the Barrens Garden because I didn’t think I would get any lush growth on such a poor site. It looked barren-like for the first few years, but after the plants took hold it took on a whole new look.

Purple Coneflower is the plant that people associate with a real garden. They tell me that my plants are pretty and suggest that I try some of the new varieties that offer larger blooms and brighter colors. I guess they don’t understand my purpose in creating a mini-prairie by using native seed.

Despite their lack of sophistication, I would put my coneflowers up against any of the popular cultivars.

The flower head itself is mesmerizing. It’s like one of those optical illusion pictures. First the rows of florets seem to swirl off to the right and then they appear to be going left.

The Gray Headed Coneflowers aren’t as showy as the Purple. Despite this, they manage to attract a wide range of insect visitors. Pollen, nectar and yummy petals cause these flowers to get a lot of attention.

Baptisia flowers have been replaced with green seed pods. These plants go through many changes through the season and they always stand out. There seems to be something mysterious in everything they do. This plant was started in 1995 and didn’t bloom until its fourth season. It has bloomed every year since.

The Nodding Wild Onion project continues. The blooms are looking particularly healthy this year. Plenty of small bees are busy pollinating the flowers.

Six healthy blooming plants this year. The cage must be performing adequately to keep the predators away.

The tip end of the False Gromwell flower stalk is still blooming, while the lower end is ripening seeds.

The American Aloe is in full bloom. Like many of the plants in the Prairie Garden, the American Aloe has scattered seed and significantly increased the number of plants.

I’ve noticed one positive effect of the Prairie Garden burn this spring. Except for the small portion of the garden protected from the burn by the wet towel, there has been a total absence of Oxeye Daisy. About six plants came up in the towel area. I pulled all of the plants before they could ripen seed. I’m anxious to see what the Daisy population is like next year.

Several weedy species are still present around the edges of the garden. The most common are English Plantain and Black Medic. Since the garden enlarges itself every year, these edge areas have had less time for the natives to take control. In five years the natives will have the weeds suppressed in this area and the edge of the garden will be another 18 inches into the yard.


  1. HI Steve...It has been very warm here, today is much better was averaging 95 day and 80 nights and high humidity...If you listen to the weather man he think it lower,but my temp. guide says differently and that's what I go by!!
    When you arm sticks and sweats on the desk when at the computer yuck!!
    I'm glad to see that you Prairie garden is a success and a work in progress, even the towel see to be of good benefit : }}
    Have a good weekend!!

  2. Very nice. I like the idea of the gardens working into each other. Then I see what they "want" to do and trim back as necessary. Your garden is quite pretty - exactly what I would expect from you. :)

  3. Hi, grammie g. We had a run of hot humid weather, but the last few days have been better. At least it's cooling off at night. I'll try to send a cool breeze your way.

    Thanks, Lois. I like to let the plants sort things out between themselves. Each year seems to produce a different pattern.