Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Prairie Garden - Old Section

The Prairie Garden has really suffered because of the drought.  Even in normal years, growing in the shallow soil of a steep, south facing slope causes the plants to suffer from moisture stress. The floral display that is supposed to clearly show everyone that this is not a weed patch, never happened this year.

This is the season for the grasses to dominate, but the grasses just aren’t developing.  This scene looks like it was taken in early June instead of August.

Little Bluestem only put up a fraction of the seed stalks normally produced.  This clump is typically thick enough to block out the background.

There was a new blooming plant in the Prairie Garden this year.  Wild Potato Vine, Ipomoea pandurata, is a native member of the Morning Glory family.  It produces a large tuberous root that will carry the plant through the worst drought.  I planted these seeds three years ago.

The Round-podded St. Johnswort has had a rebirth.  It began flowering earlier in the year, but died back as the soil dried out. 

The lack of grass competition has allowed the resurrected St. Johnswort to flourish and produce an abundance of seed.  This plant has managed to fare much better than it does in a typical season.

Butterflyweed has had a similar resurgence.  New growth is emerging from ground level as well as from old stalks.

Gray-headed Coneflower was almost non-existent.  This plant normally creates a cloud of yellow that overtops everything else in the garden.  This year, the species was represented by only a few short plants scattered through the stand.

Wild Petunia has been as vigorous as ever.  The petunia grows in the lawn just as readily as in the garden and seems impervious to drought, flood, mowing or herbicide.  I never had to introduce any seed to get this species growing.

Baptisia was knocked down by the storms, but it seemed to produce a fine crop of seed pods.

Unfortunately, there are few seeds inside and the wet conditions have caused mold to grow inside the pod.

False Aloe flowered, but has failed to produce many seed pods.  I’ll have to wait a few weeks to see if these contain any viable seed.

Very few Purple Coneflowers actually bloomed.  Those that did produced short lived flowers.  I’m not expecting much in the way of seeds from these plants.

False Gromwell only produced about 25 percent of its normal seed crop.  This is going to be a tough year for collecting prairie seed.

Western Sunflower normally produces the last big flash of color for the year.  These flower buds give promise of flowers to come.

The lack of competition from tall grasses is also benefiting the Western Sunflower.  This may be its year to rule the Prairie Garden.


  1. Nice looking at the meadow and plants. You can see a great sensitivity to the natural world.

  2. It's interesting that the St Johns Wort is flowering again, isn't it? It provides for me a second harvest for tincturing though, which is fantastic. It's definitely different to see the flowers coming at different times than usual, though.

  3. Thanks Tojav.

    Hi Tiffany. I was really surprised when I saw all of those flowers. The odd year continues.

  4. You have some lovely and fascinating plants in your prairie garden.