I’m so excited–my gardens are included on the Garden Walk this year.


Normally, my garden would look like this on June 23:

But they already look like this today, Friday, June 15–will they last another week in the coming 90 degree heat?

Whoever named Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) was a marketing genius; whoever named Butterfly Weed–not so much.

While both attract butterflies in profusion,  our native Butterfly Weed attracts caterpillars, as well, necessary for the life cycle of Monarch butterflies.  (Everyone knows Monarch caterpillars only feed on our native Asclepias.)

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias  tuberosa) thrives in my gardens–I have mesic soil–no clay.  The plants are not long lived, but they seed themselves about and multiply rather fast.  All my seedlings pop up next to the sidewalk–Butterfly Weed is a calciphite (my spell-checker wants to call it a caliphate) and loves to grow next to concrete or flagstone.  It’s combined with Stiff Coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata), Little Blue Stem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolis heterolepsis) in the above picture.


Stiff Coreopsis is native to sandy or gravelly prairies; it can be quite aggressive in mesic prairies. I usually wait until a matrix of Little Blue Stem and/or Prairie Dropseed is established before planting off-shoots of Stiff Coreopsis.  The grasses help keep it in check.


Butterfly Weed also combines well with Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium).








The blossoms of Wild Quinine grow in a flat-topped corymb, evocative of the flat prairie, at the top of 1 1/2’ to 4’ tall stems.  It puts on a longer show than any other prairie flower, looking as fresh in  August as it does in June.



Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) is another frequent companion of Butterfly Weed.


It resembles the more familiar Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), but its petals are narrower and more reflexed and are a lighter, brighter pink.  It is also taller–up to 40”–and has narrower leaves.

So what comes next?  What are we likely to see next Saturday?


Purple Prairie Clover (Petalostemon purpureum) and Prairie Baby’s Breath (Euphorbia corollata)  are beginning to bloom now.








A purple fringed tutu of blossoms climbs up the tubular cone and becomes a long purple cylinder as the season progresses.  Bright purple-stemmed , golden-orange anthers dot the purple petals–a stunning contrast.  It grows 1-3’ tall on stiff stems with sparse, compound, needlelike leaves.



Flowering Spurge is the “official” common name for Euphorbia corollata, but what would you rather purchase–Flowering Spurge of Prairie Baby’s Breath?  It does, indeed, resemble the more familiar Gypsophila paniculata of florist’s bouquets and old-fashioned gardens.  Its erect 1-3’ stems branch out near the top, then branch again and again, forming a flat-topped corymb of dainty, white, 5-petaled, blossoms that add an airy note to the sunny garden during July and August.



Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis) sprawls along the edges…







and in the lawn.


The lavender-blue, flared trumpet blossoms of Wild Petunia do indeed resemble the annual petunia we’re familiar with, but are smaller and not as flared.  First planted along the edges of my gardens, it has seeded itself exuberantly–I’m thrilled it sprinkles itself throughout my lawn.  One can mow the lawn and with it the petunias, but in a few  days they will pop up and bloom again.


All the above are pictured and featured in more detail in my book, Design Your Natural Midwest Garden on pages 12-15.


I will send another reminder of the Garden Walk next week, but will not post a blog until after the walk–I’ll let you know how it went.




8 Responses to GARDEN WALK

  1. Suzanne Massion June 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    Pat, I was invited to paint at one of the Woodridge Court sites on this garden walk. I told Peg Caughlin I needed a lot of shade to paint all day long. Terri and Dan Grow have an almost totally shaded garden, but oh how I am going to miss seeing what is growing in yours. I don’t think any other site on the walk is so devoted to native plants. We sure do need rain, but not on the 23rd!

    • PatHill June 15, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

      Suzanne, you can come visit my garden any time you please. I don’t have much shade, so you wouldn’t want to paint here.

  2. Mary Alice Masonick June 17, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    I am looking forward to visiting you and your garden, Pat!

  3. Peggy Timmerman June 19, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Dear Pat,

    In our native dry prairie we have Butterfly Weed plants that ecologists estimate are 75 years old–so I’m curious that your plants do not seem to be long-lived. Could they be a garden cultivar? We had a very hot burn this spring and the butterfly weed are blooming in profusion, so I guess they liked it.

    Peggy Timmerman
    Lone Rock, WI

    • PatHill June 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

      No, they absolutely are not a garden cultivar. They were grown from plugs purchased from The Natural Garden. My records aren’t clear enough to know how many I purchased, but if you look at the design that I did on page 3 of my book, that’s close to what I did, I do still have the clumps I planted to the left of the sidewalk (as you look at it), but the clumps on the right disappeared because there was quite a bit of shade from the neighbor’s tree. There was a small berm at the corner of my lot (not shown) where I planted several clumps of Butterfly Weed and Little Bluestem, but neither one was happy theere and they both seeded themselves next to the sidewalk and didn’t reappear where I planted them. I also planted some-7- on my west parkway within a matrix of Prairie Dropseed. In addition to what I have planted, I have 24 more plants that seeded themselves, mostly growing right next to the sidewalk or street.

  4. Charlene Breitlow June 19, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    what is the date of the garden walk?


    • PatHill June 19, 2012 at 11:07 am #

      The garden is this coming Saturday, June 23, from 9 until 3.

  5. David Dornblaser June 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    I had the pleasure of stopping by Pat’s house today at the end of the garden walk. It is even more beautiful in person than viewing pics here and in her book. We are evolving to a natural cottage garden and seeing Pat’s garden gave me a number of ideas. I am glad that I snapped a few pics as I will revisit those again between now and the fall sowing/plug season. The treat of the day, however, was meeting Pat. She is a gracious and nice lady.

Leave a Reply


Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes