Through the Year 2014 July–December

Through the year 2014 July–December

front walk 2014

6/28/14  Classic prairie combination for late June-early July:  Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium), and Stiff Coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata).  They don’t seem to be as prolific as usual this year, perhaps because it was a rather cool summer, as Midwestern summers go, and we had more rain than usual.  All the above plants prefer dry or sandy prairie or savanna in which to grow.


  royal catchfly 2014

7/25/14  The red stars of the Royal Catchfly (Silene regia) flare out at the top of a long tubular calyx, one of the showiest flowers of the prairie, in bloom in mid-to-late July.  It likes full to partial sun in dry to mesic soil.   It is attractive to Black Swallowtail butterflies and, not surprisingly, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  It’s state endangered and no longer for sale in Illinois, but I believe it can be purchased in Wisconsin. (If it is endangered, wouldn’t it be better to propagate it?–Just asking.)

I had 2 small patches growing in the garden next to my driveway and one died out completely in the drought of 2012, although the smaller patch hung on.  Then last summer the dead patch sent up a new plant that bloomed, so I hope it will recover.  Silene regia has a central taproot, but also has short rhizomes that can spread vegetatively and create small colonies.


bountiful side yard

7/31/14  Bountiful beyond measure.  But the pallet has self-selected:  there is no longer any Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya), Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), or Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium), while Royal Catchfly (Silene regia),  Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea), and Cream Wild Indigo (Baptisia leucophaea) diminished quite a bit.  And then there is an overabundance of False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthus), Rosin Weed (Silphium integrifolium), Joe Pye Weed, (Eupatorium purpurea) and Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans).

back walk

8/13/14 Walk from house to garage

I pass by the window in my back door many times a day, so I’ve been sure to make the view interesting and beautiful.  The red garage door draws the eye down the walk; the red begonias in the red wall planter echo the color. The tall spiky plants next to the door are Horseweed (Erigeron canadensis) that decided on its own to seed itself within the bricks  of the walk.  It’s the perfect accent to the composition–a feather duster plume at the top of a tall, unbranched stem.  I wrote about it extensively last year–you can see it here.  (It has also decided to seed itself within the cracks of the sidewalk leading to my front door.)  A few False Sunflower lean over the sidewalk–also unplanned.

front of house aug 2014

8/16/14  Overall view of my bungalow from Orange St.  Little House on the Prairie, some call it.

nodding wild onion next to front steps

8/16/14 Close up front steps with herb pots and Nodding Wild Onion (Allium cernuum) growing in the crack between the sidewalk and the steps.

As far as I’m concerned, one can never have too many Nodding Wild Onion.   Sharply nodding, leafless stems rise 18” from long, flat, narrow, onion-like basal leaves.  Then clusters of tiny, individual bells form a globe at the end of the stems, white at first, then becoming pink and rose as they age.  They pop up everywhere–especially in sidewalk cracks and along garden edges next to concrete sidewalks and driveways.  I don’t, however, recall ever seeing one in the wild.

Arch Sept

Arch 9/18/14

The blossoms of Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) and Short’s Aster (Symphyotrichum shortii)  combine with the scarlet fall foliage of Prairie Baby’s Breath (Euphorbia corollata) and the “Hedgehog” seed heads of Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) next to  the arch and bird bath at the entrance to my savanna garden.

 Arch oct.

Arch 10/15/14

One month later:  the foliage of Black Haw (Viburnum prunefolium) has turned to scarlet; that of the Prairie Rose (Rosa setigera) to bronze; while there is still some Short’s Aster (Symphyotrichum shortii) in bloom.

prairie dropseed oct SW corner of house

10/15/14  Cluster of Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolis heterolepis) and Smooth Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum leave)  on the south west corner of my house.  (One can never have too much Prairie Dropseed either, but mine has never re-seeded itself.  Have any of you  been so lucky as to have it reproduce?)

aster nov front of house

11/1/14  Self-sown Short’s Aster along my south-facing front wall.

arch in snow 2013

This is what we would expect in December and this photo was indeed taken in December–December 2013.

Dec 2014 arch no snow

12/15/2014  But this is what we have this year.  Good reason to have man-made articles in the landscape to add interest and beauty.


Thanks for reading my blog this year–hope you will continue on this journey to visit, become familiar with, and above all, plant native Midwestern plants.  It will literally help save the earth.

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