Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Tiny Urban Prairie Garden

This tiny urban prairie garden consists of a small bed at the left that is approximately 5' x 6' and a planter that is approximately 2' x 10'.  The planter has the very fine texture of prairie dropseed grass flowing over the edge, a tall fluffy fine textured lead plant about two thirds of the way down the planter, and coarser textured plants like spiderwort, several kinds of prairie onion, prairie coreopsis, and cream wild indigo.  Shown in October, when nearly all flowering is done, the textures still make a showing.
At left, the small bed is filled with yellow coneflower, swamp milkweed, and prairie dock.  The dock has huge green oval shaped leaves from spring through late fall, and over them, slender graceful flower stalks sway, topped by bold round buds, brilliant yellow flowers, and later, round seed heads that attract goldfinches, for second show of yellow flash!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Layers and Repetitions

 Although selecting plants from an exclusively prairie palette limits the range of colors available, the use of design is still an important tool available to the prairie gardener.  This garden features layering of plants in horizontal bands from various points from which the garden is typically viewed.  Using plants in long narrow bands perpendicular to the line of observation is a way to maximize the visual depth of the space.  This fairly small prairie front yard looks deeper than it is due to such layers.

There are two repeated elements that further organize the aesthetics of this garden.

One is the repeated use of the tall yellow coneflower. The heights of the plants serves as a background layer that also hides pockets of the garden from view, so that they can be revealed as the observer moves around the space.  The repeated use of this yellow color as well as others that flower earlier and later provide a constant against which other colors wax and wane.  During some parts of the season, there is more pink, during others, more white, and various purple flowering plants come and go, but yellow is always there.

Another repeated element that is present even before flowers appear and long after flowering is completed is prairie dock.  The large bold leaves stand in contrast to the finer foliage of most other prairie grasses and forbs, and remains into the winter as large dried curled structural elements.  The garden has lines of compass plant that organize it into shapes and in other places, large clumps that move the eye from point to point around the garden space.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Urban Leadplant Attracts Urban Pollinators

Fine textured leadplant shares a long planter on a city street with courser textured leaves of compass plant and even finer textured prairie dropseed grass.  Even in this downtown business district, the native prairie plants attract pollinators.  This bumblebee is filling the pollen sacs on its legs with the leadplant pollen which is much more orange colored than the usual yellow pollen of most plants.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pollinators in the Prairie

On this day in early August, the layers of flowering prairie plants are not only beautiful, but the many species of pollinators present on one single day show that this front yard prairie garden is also serving as habitat.  The Monarch butterflies can be seen from the street on the white rattlesnake master flowers at left center.  But closer inspection reveals many more insect pollinators are present. Shown are several kinds of butterflies, an abundance of wasps, a few bees, and these are only the ones that are still enough for me to photograph.  I failed to capture the abundance of tiny fast flying native wasps and a couple other butterflies that are more skittish.  In autumn, when the flowers have gone to seed, there will be birds out there pecking at the seeds, which will occur all winter as various kinds of seeds soften from their seed heads and become attractive as food sources.






Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer at the Lake House Prairie, Year Four

 The lake house garden in July of 2013, when the plants have filled out, meshed together, but diagonal lines and repeats of colors are still very much evident.  The designed shapes will soften as plants interseed, or it can be maintained with some thinning out and transplanting, as desired.  In general, the whites are expressed first, then various purples and yellows come into to and go out of flower as the summer goes on.  Always, the prairie dock serves as a bold structural element with its huge bright green leaves and tall thing flower stalks.