Thursday, March 27, 2008

What Season Is It?

As proof certain that the real seasons are unrelated to the calendar seasons, it is snowing outside for the third time since the Vernal Equinox on March 20 at 05:48UTC. Actually, it is more of a srain at this point, because the great big snowclumps that were being driven at a significant angle just moments ago are now falling straight down because they seem to be heavier due to being partly melted. But that could change any minute now.

I don't care that much. I am leaving on Spring Break in a couple days and for now, I have my cheater branches. Techinically it is called 'forcing' but I prefer to think of it as bribing. You know. where you bring branches indoors and give them warm air and water for their feet and watch their little buds unfurl magically and grow into huge wonderful green things? So it may be dark and . . . white . . . out there but I have my little bit of green right here in my kitchen!

Pale Purple Coneflower in Prairie Dropseed

Pale Purple Coneflower
Echinacea pallida

Prairie Dropseed
Sporobolus heteroleptis
Recreated prairie in mid June

At the Olbrich Botanical Garden in landscaping in June, 2012

Prairie Phlox

Prairie Phlox flower
Shooting Star seed pods

White Wild Indigo

White Wild Indigo

Baptisia leucantha
Foliage 24" to 30" tall
Flower stalks 30" to 42" tall
Blue green foliage stands out from green of other prairie plants
Flowers followed by deep blue black pods

Prairie Front Yard Landscaping

Prairie Plants in Place of Front Lawn

Prairie Dropseed
and other short forbs

Solomon's Seal in Landscape

Solomon's Seal
A savanna understory plant
Used in a garden

Natural Variety in Flower Form of Pale Purple Coneflower

Pale Purple Coneflower
Echinacea pallida

Natural variety of flower form in open pollinated plants

Prairie Dropseed

Prairie Dropseed
Sporobolus heteroleptis
Foliage 15" to 24" tall
Flower/Seed Stalk 24" to 36" tall

Pale Purple Coneflower in a Restored Prairie

Pale Purple Coneflower
Echinacea pallida

Priaire Dropseed
Sporobolus heteroleptis

Mid June

Bur Oak

Bur Oak
Quercus macrocarpa
In flower in May

Prairie Landscaping in Fall

Mix of stiff goldenrod and New England aster in prairie landscaping

Prairie Under Restoration

Layered appearance of bands of prairie grasses and forbs in a prairie under restoration

Autumn Grasses

Little bluestem in foreground
Indian Grass in background
Mid to Late October

Late Autumn Mixed Prairie

Prairie Dropseed
Dried curled leaves of
Prairie Dock
Mid to late October

Prairie Dropseed

Prairie Dropseed
Sporobolus heteroleptis

15" to 18" tall
Turns yellow in fall.
Mound of very fine arching grass with upright light airy seed heads that are fragrant, reminding one of buttered popcorn.
Salt tolerant.
An excellent grass for the edge between turf and prairie garden.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is a native vine.  The oil from bruised leaves causes a rash on the skin.  On exposure, wash immediately, preferably with an oil-cutting dish soap like Dawn. Birds eat the berries in the late fall and winter.  The fall color is a beautiful orange.  The plant can be a low ground cover, a below height bushy shrub, a waist high bushy shrub, or a vine.  It often appears along paths as a spindly tall shrub because it has been brushed into and worn back.
You will have to chose whether to patrol for and remove it as part of your maintenance or leave it where it grows naturally and avoid touching it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Green Dragon

Green Dragon
Asarum draconitum
15" tall leaf with 24" flower
Uncommon relative to Jack in the Pulpit
Savanna shade wildflower

Wild Quinine

Wild Quinine
Parthenium integrifolium
3' flat topped flower cluster over 2' cluster of long oval leaves
Long flowering period

Rattlesnake Master

Rattlesnake Master
Eryngium yuccifolium
Flower 3' tall
Leaves 2' tall

Yes, these white 'balls' are the flower clusters of this pretty stately plant.  The leaves are pretty on their own, a blue-green that stands out nicely from other green-green foliage.  Because the ball is a cluster of individual white flowers that mature into individual seed over time and then linger on into winter, these have the appearance of a very long bloom time. 

Wild Senna

Wild Senna
Cassia hebecarpa
Yellow flower at top of plant
3' to 6' tall
Upright dense plant of fine texture foliage makes an excellent shrub substitute in the natural landscape

Prairie Dock Flower Stalk

Prairie Dock
Silphuim laciniatum
5' to 6' tall stiff unbranched stalks tower over 2' tall basal rosette of deeply divided lobed leaves.

Mountain Mint in Very Late Fall

Mountain Mint
Pycnanthemum virginianum
Seeds atop plants turning from summer green to winter dried brown
The silvery buttons of seed heads persist into winter

Dutchman's Britches

Dutchman's Britches
Dicentra cucullaria
A spring wildflower found in the shade of the savanna


Sanguinaria canadense
A woodland wildflower commonly found in the shade of the savanna in the springtime.



Hepatica acutiloba

A spring wildflower of the woodlands, Liverwort can also be found in the shade under the trees of the savanna

May Apple

Podopphyllum peltatum
12" to 15" tall
Grows in the shade to part shade under the savanna trees


The ragweeds are some of the worse offenders to hayfever sufferers. They produce copious amounts of pollen, as can be seen by the swollen yellowish stalks of the Giant Ragweed below. They are weeds of disturbed areas, especially the edges of agricultural fields and unmaintained properties, but cannot compete with true perennials, including prairie plants. Goldenrod flowers at the peak of the ragwood flowering season, and since the green flowers of the ragweed are inconspicuous compared to the brazen Goldenrods, blame for the pollen is misplaced.
Pollen that is light enough to be windborn is released by green flowers, such as these ragweeds and many trees, while pollen that is too heavy to be carried on the wind is held in flowers with showy colors that attract pollinating insects.

Giant Ragweed

From 4' to 8' tall with large leaves

Common Ragweed
3' to 4' tall

October Mix as Landscaping

New England Aster and Sawtooth Sunflower

Compass Plant Seedhead

Compass Plant Seedhead
Silphium laciniatum

Grassleaf Goldenrod

Grassleaf Goldenrod
Solidago gramnifolia

2' tall

Common Milkweed

Common Milkweed
Asclepias syriaca
Frequent host to Monarch Butterfly larvae and other larvae and beetles

Indian Grass

Indian Grass

Sorghastrum nutans

6' tall

Early fall

Little Bluestem in Fall

Little Bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium
3' tall
Autumn and winter foliage are a russet color