A Review by Kim Risley
Design your Natural Midwest Garden
If you enjoyed February’s meeting be sure to check out Patricia Hill’s book, Design Your Natural Midwest Garden, available to members through our lending library. this book is packed full of designs featuring plants native to our Midwest from front entry designs, to patio and terrace designs, designs for borders, hillsides, and woodlands; plus designs for different sun exposures and specialty gardens among many others. Each design includes pictures and a layout with the various natives identified. The written description with each design is very detailed, providing the reader with the Latin name and the common name, along with a comprehensive description of each plant used.
For instance, in the “Design for a South-facing Entry Garden,” the reader learns that “Mats of spring blooming coral pink Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) are stunning for several weeks. Its 8″ stem bear a trio of upright, urn-shaped rosy flower buds that rise above a clump of toothed, fern like basal leaves in late March or early April. A few weeks later, five narrow bracts open like a star from the middle of the now nodding buds. Then in May and June, it gets even better – the buds open wide and spill out misty, feathery mauve plumes up to 2′ long, which give it a hazy, smoky appearance and its common name. Less than a foot tall, it spreads by rhizomes, making it a superb ground cover in dry, sunny areas. An arc of Prarie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis) grows along the front foundation under the windows of the glassed-in porch. The whorled, arching mound, 1′ to 2′ tall, is emerald green in spring and summer, turning to coppery bronze in the fall. The delicate, airy panicles of aromatic flowers begin to emerge in August on stiff stems 2′ to 3′ above the foliage; the ripe seed drops by the end of September.”
Throughout her designs the reader will discover that Patricia has at least three different species of native plants blooming at the same time. At the end of the book, Patricia provides details on planting a native garden.
There is also an extensive bibliography included. More Reviews