In Bloom this Week in My Prairie Garden

 

In Bloom this Week in my Prairie Garden

side yard june 2015

Overall Side Yard

spiderwort and white wild indigo

The morning star of the early June garden.

The iridescent sapphire blossoms of the Ohio Spiderwort open with the dawn every morning, closing by noon  (except on cloudy days when they remain  open all day).  It’s a common plant, found in sandy Black Oak savannas, in degraded prairies, and in railroad ballast.  It multiplies freely and you will soon have way too many–but way too many give the best show.  It becomes unsightly after blooming and needs to be cut back to the ground.

It combines beautifully with the tall white spiky flowers of White Wild Indigo in bloom now, also.

white wild indigo 2

The emerging smooth, purple-green stems of the elegant White Wild Indigo resemble–no, look exactly like– asparagus spears.   The buds on the tall stems soon open into waxy, alabaster pea blossoms that bloom from early June into early July.  No longer common in our area, I have only seen it growing in made prairies, such as the one in the former Sears prairie in Hoffman Estates, the Geneva River Park, and Snuffy’s Prairie in Dundee Township.

foxglove beardtongue

Foxglove Beard Tongue (Penstemon digitalis), another tall white spiky plant, up to 3’, is blooming now also.  Its sparkling white trumpets dance along the sometimes wine-colored tall stems.    The fine violet lines within the trumpet act as a bee guide. It  grows in sun or part shade and is found in mesophytic woods and in mesic prairies.  In my experience, it is not a long-lasting plant; but it does reseed itself.

prairie indian plain 2014

I don’t remember how Prairie Indian Plantain (Cacalia plantaginea or C. tuberosa) first came to my attention.  I have a photograph of one as early as 2006, but I don’t recall the circumstances. It is mentioned in my book, published in 2007, written in 2006 and earlier. Oddly, it doesn’t appear in my bloom chart until 2011.

prairie indian pla,tain

Anyway, I’m glad I have it–it’s extraordinarily beautiful.

Its tall stems rise up to 3’ and end up with a saucer-sized, flat-topped cluster of tiny, cream-white  disc flowers that begin to bloom in June, carrying on through July.

indian plantaim leaves

The long-stalked, waxy, parallel-veined leaves do bear a superficial resemblance to the leaves of the common plantain, a ubiquitous European weed of lawns and compacted paths.  But Prairie Indian Plantain is a high- quality denizen of wet and mesic prairies with a distinct elegance

prairie dock june 2015

Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum) isn’t in bloom yet, but its magnificent leaves make a stunning statement at the front of a border.  One or two or perhaps three scattered clumps of Prairie Dock throughout ones property add drama.

prairie alum root and sign

I’m very fond of Prairie Alum Root (Heuchera richardsonii), particularly when used as a border or an edging.   While the flowers aren’t  as colorful as Coral Bells, its Rocky Mountain cousin, provocative orange tongues stick out from the center of their bells in May.  Its robust leaves turn to a lovely burgundy in fall, which lasts through most of the winter.

I hope all of you local readers qualify for  Conservation at Home, a  Backyard Certification Program.

 

 

 

4 Responses to In Bloom this Week in My Prairie Garden

  1. Meredith Schroeer June 19, 2015 at 10:11 pm #

    I loved this stroll through your garden. In addition to several of the flowers you mention, our swamp milkweed is putting out its first dusty rose buds, and our calico beardstongue is now over. Queen of the Prairie is also in bud!

  2. mike weis June 20, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    Hey Pat, I saw your book on display in the glass case at one of the Chicago Public Library branches. It was a gardening themed display.

    • Pat Hill June 22, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

      Thanks for letting me know, Mike.

  3. Jason June 21, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    The Ohio Spiderwort and Foxglove Penstemon are blooming in my garden as well. I don’t have the white Baptisia, unfortunately. I’m very sad that the rabbits seem to have dispatched the Prairie Baby’s Breath I ordered from Prairie Moon. Maybe I’ll plant some more in the fall. They only sell it bare root.

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