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.