Ken Sikora wrote this in an e-mail the other day: “Thanks for the Winter Seeding of a Prairie, Donna! Just last Thursday I did broadcast seeds in an existing prairie, trying to improve the wildflower diversity and fill in some thin spots. I did it knowing it was going to rain Friday, which would help force the seeds to the ground. Now, I’ll just sit back and wait a couple of years to see the results.”
A Small Native Plant Garden
Generally, I have been asked to assist in the plant design of large prairie fields, but this one is a small planting. One of the objectives of the design was to create a somewhat bold statement in sheer volume of foliage and color to draw attention to the site, as well as create a natural setting to attract pollinators and birds.
The site is a northeast corner lot that receives morning sun and faces south. It is shaded by a mature Red Maple (Acer rubrum) tree. The tree is approximately 8 feet from the edge of the area to be planted. The soil is medium. The area is approximately 9 x 18 feet or 162 square feet.
Maple trees are notorious for hogging surface water, so this will make a difference in the plant selection. The maple tree is likely far enough away so the root system may not interfere all that much with the garden (although their roots seem to extend forever), but I suspect the canopy will. We definitely want to stay away from plants that require a lot of moisture, like rain gardens do.
Native Plant Suggestions in Order of Bloom:
May-Jun Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
May –Jul Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea)
Jun-Aug Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis)
Jun-Jul Smooth Penstemon (Penstemon digitalis)
Jun-Sep Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) or,
Jul-Oct Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) Deadhead some Brown-eyed Susan in fall; aggressive seeders.
Jul-Aug Nodding Pink Onion (Alliium cernuum) Deadhead some Nodding Onion in fall; aggressive seeders.
Jul-Sep Lavendar Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Aug-Oct New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) Pinch back in June to maintain a shorter stature.
Aug-Oct Heath Aster (Aster ericoides)
Aug-Oct Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
Others native plants to consider include:
May-Jun Long Beaked Sedge (Carex sprengelii)
Jun-Aug Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Jul-Sep Bergamot (Monarda fisitulosa) Will stay shorter in dryer soils.
Jul-Sep Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) Will stay shorter in dryer soils.
Jul-Oct Zig Zag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)
Aug-Sep Meadow Blazingstar (Liatris ligulistylis) Over 3 feet tall, but not bushy. As a specimen plant, the city might not object.
This is a small garden. No need to plant spectacle plants. That is NO Siliphiums (Cupplant, Campusplant, Prairie Dock and Rosinweed). NO Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium). NO Baptisia (Blue False, Cream False and White False Indigo).
To develop a successful garden with plants blooming throughout the season, we need to be mindful of the amount of moisture as well as sunlight the plants require.
Remember! A native plant out of place is not a native plant.