Tag Archives: Morton Arboretum

A New Way of Gardening

Traditionally, the way plants were organized in parks and gardens reflected a culture that liked to order and discipline nature.  Contemporary planting design is not only freer, but also seeks to reflect nature.  It also addresses our concerns about how we garden sustainably and in partnership with nature.  Piet Oudolf & Noel Kingsbury Planting: A […]


Will the Real Black Snakeroot Please Stand Up? This plant was labeled Black Snakeroot (Cimicifuga racemosa) at Chicago Botanic Garden on 25 July 2008. This species has been also called Black Cohosh or Bugbane. Tall, tapered spires of fragrant, white flowers on wiry stems rise above a doily of dark green, doubly tri-leaved foliage that […]


Four for Early Summer     In my mind, summer begins with the blooming of Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) in early June.  Its flowers are arranged in a flat-topped corymb that  blooms at the top of 1 1/2 to 4’ tall stems, evocative of the flat prairie from where it comes.   It puts on […]


LET’S KEEP OUR RAINWATER HERE Part 2 WHAT FALLS IN ELGIN SHOULD STAY IN ELGIN   When rain falls, two things can happen to it.  It can infiltrate the soil and become an asset to local life, or it can run off and become a liability to life downstream. James M. Patchett & Gerould S. […]

Late Summer Bloom

      My traditional gardening friends complain that they have no flowers in bloom in August.  They obviously don’t grow Black-eyed Susan.  (Rudbeckia speciosa var. sullivantii)   View out my front door.  This week a Great Spangled Fritillary landed on my front porch stair post–alas, I didn’t get a photo.  Great Spangled Fritillary are […]

Clearing Invasives from Savannas and Woodlands

Midsummer Gardens

Mid-summer Gardens The summer prairie begins to bloom in earnest around mid-summer.   Wild Quinine opens first, followed closely by Pale Purple Coneflower and Butterfly Weed, and then Stiff Coreopsis adds its golden suns.     The flat-topped flower clusters of Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) reflect the flat prairies from where it comes.  The tiny […]

Prairie Dropseed

If you want to start a prairie garden, I recommend that you first plant Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis). If you have a perennial garden, place Prairie Dropseed between the plants. It grows in whorled, arching mound, 2-3′ tall and around. In late July-early August, delicate, fragrant, airy panicles of flowers begin to emerge on stiff […]