There's so much that changes in the MG landscape throughout the year...we thought a plant trial and garden blog was the best way to start sharing "what's new" and "what's happening with all those new varieties" with you! Visit often for updates on how trial plants are performing in the gardens and to see photos throughout the season as we grow and change!

Welcome to the Midwest Groundcovers Landscape Blog

Welcome to the Midwest Groundcovers Landscape Blog
Astilbe 'Vision in Red' with Hosta 'Patriot' and Carex 'Ice Dance'

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Native Plant Revolution

Hello again,
Last week I mentioned native plants and then I didn't show any pictures of them. This week, I will show you some of the great natives and how they look at this time of the year. If you have not yet read Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy, I highly recommend it. It has changed my life and the way I look at plants considerably. You may agree or disagree with his philosophies, but he does have a lot of science to back it up. Here at Midwest Groundcovers, we have a prairie at our entrance that is in the process of being re-established. What was once Crown Vetch and Solidago canadensis taking over, is now a conglomerate of species thriving and looking beautiful. We still have the occasional noxious weed like Canary Reed Grass that we continue to fight and there are a couple of Lythrum salicaria or Purple Loose Strife that need to be removed pronto, and are being removed as I type. But the rest of the prairie looks stunning. Reading the stories about Purple Loose Strife and how dangerous it is to the environment make it twice as scary as I originally thought. There are few insects to eat it, so it eliminates other flora in the area. Once the other flora in the area are gone, the other insects then disappear. Once the insects disappear, the birds, mammals and amphibians that eat them disappear. When those disappear, we disappear. That is a small sampling of what could happen if we allow Purple Loose Strife in our landscapes. Ok, I'll get off my soapbox.

Echinacea purpurea
I still find the straight species to be very nice. There is variation from one plant to the next because they have biodiversity, but I find that to be one of the best attributes. I walked through our prairie yesterday and found ones with dark stems like pictured here, ones with darker flower colors and ones with lighter colors. Some with heavily drooping petals and ones without. I feel like I'm reading Go Dog Go now.

Here they are en masse in the prairie. Peaking up from in between the plants are Coreopsis tripteris and Silphium terebinthinaceum or Prairie Dock if you prefer.

Heliopsis helianthoides
This plant is also thriving in the prairie. What I've found about this plant is that it rarely does not thrive. In my yard it has reseeded often, and I kind of like that. Who doesn't like volunteers? Going away from natives, plant these with Salvia 'Caradonna' for a nice contrast of colors.

Dalea purpurea
I think the species that benefits most from Dalea is the rabbit. They love these plants. They are high in protein which makes the delicious to many mammals. In our prairie though, there are a lot of them and they are sustaining themselves well. They have very fine textured foliage and have done well in our landscape in years where there is significant drought. This year with the wet, they still look pretty good!

Eryngium yuccifolium
I had a hard time deciding whether or not to put this picture on the blog. It is not in the prairie but in our garden designed by Piet Oudolf. It looks the best I've ever seen it this year. In the prairie it looked grand as well, but here it's very easy to see. It is the alien-like white balls floating in the air. It's name is derived from the fact that the foliage looks like a Yucca.

Corylus americana
I was so happy to arrive at the Corylus in the prairie. These big guys were sporting their fancy fruit. It is quite the curiosity the first time you see hazelnuts in their natural beauty. The plants themselves grow up to 16' tall and have superb fall color. They are worthy of the back of the border. Many mammals rely on this plant in the wild.

Desmodium canadense
This member of the legume family boasts purple flowers that are very useful to bees. They love the pollen that they can get from the plant. Being in the bean family, the mammals love to eat them as well. If you have deer issues, you may not want this plant. Wild turkeys are also fond of them. In fall, the seeds stick to your clothing like no other. Stay away from them! Although, if you want more of this darling, touch away and let the seeds fall where they will.
Calamagrostis canadensis
Now we are on to some of the grasses. I've really grown to like the Blue Joint Grass. This is in a wet area where we used to have standing water. Along with plants like Asclepias incarnata, Physostegia and Lythrum alatum, they are drying the area and really providing us with a solution to the area.

Bouteloua curtipendula
Anyone that has attended a tour here in the past has heard how much I love to say Bouteloua. It's the only plant I know of that can scare someone by screaming it's name. Come to think of it, Mulberry might be a scary thing as well. Anyways, this is a nice native grass with pendulous flowers this time of year. They have a purple cast and look well with Liatris 'Floristan White'.
Asclepias incarnata
With a bloom so beautiful, it's amazing these don't make it into more people's yards. The milkweeds are the only plant that Monarch butterfly larvae can eat. Therefore, the butterflies attracted to this plant are amazing. This alone would make me plant one, but the attractive bees that inhabit this plant are almost as cool! They do get to 5' tall or a little more so some space is required. But if you want to give back to nature a little, this is a good start. And with a bloom so interesting as the one pictured, why wouldn't you want that staring at you through your kitchen window?

I typically try to stay off the political soapbox. But in this case, I feel it is important to look at some of the great native plants that could be on your palette. These American Beauties Native Plants not only offer up the beautiful blooms but offer up habitat and food for native insects and birds. I hope you like them. Thanks for taking the time to visit the blog. Until next time, have a great day!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comments here!