Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My Prairie -- My Home Companion

     I have always loved to garden. But when we moved to our newly built house in 1998, and I realized what a large area of empty land we had, I decided to flank our driveway near the street with tall grass prairie plantings. My husband now calls it my "jungle." It has take a long time but the one side of the driveway has really taken ahold with 8 feet high cup plant, prairie dock, big blue stem, Culver's root, gray headed cone flowers, sweet black eyed susan, gaura, liatris, baptisia, veronica, Monarda, cut leaf cone flower, rattlesnake master, a few Baptisia, a few monkshood, yarrow, wild bergamot, purple cone flower, pale purple cone flower, obedient plant, Joe Pye weed, yellow flag, Virginia bluebells, early golden rod, Soldago (the common later large golden rod, Queen of the Prairie ,wild quinine and I let Chrysanthemum leucanthemum grow in there even though it is not native. It is short lived and I haven't found it to crowd out my other plants. Actually nothing could crowd out the cuplant, the prairie dock and the cutleaf cone flowers. For some reason, like some of my cultivated perennials around the house, this year these prairie plants have gone wild also. On one side of the driveway there are almost no invasives and there are blossoms galore. Even my husband who hates my choice of use for the land, couldn't believe the prairie dock this year. "Some of those stems are 9 or 10 feet tall with yellow flowers on them! What is that?" He was impressed. We cannot burn a prairie planting in Mequon without making a big deal and getting permission and inviting the fire department to be there etc. So every late fall, my husband mows the two areas in order to keep the woody plants like buck thorn and tree seedlings under control. He complains about this job, but he does it anyway.

     When I walked to the neighbors the other day to photograph some of the motorcycles at their Harley Davidson 110th Anniversary party (see preceding post), I snapped some pictures of my "jungle" as well. Thought I would post them here to show what these tall grass prairies can look like in a suburban neighborhood.

I was worried about the Monarchs because I haven't seen too many this
summer. Here is one on grey headed coneflower Ratibida pinnata .

Another monarch on black eyed susan.

An overview of one jungle area.

Black eyed susans, purple coneflower Echinacea purpureum
, Soldago, and early goldenrod.

Cup plant in back, black eyed susans in front.
Silphium perfoliatum and Rudibeckia hirta.

Prairie dock: Silphium terebinthinaceum

Grey headed coneflower in front, Ratibida pinnata,
 a Sinensis ornamental grass behind (even
 though it is not native).

Joe Pye weed. Used to be called Eupatorium.
Now it is named Eutrochium. I think mine is a
cultivar of Eutrochium purpureum that is a little
shorter. Eupatorium is now applied to white snakeroot.

Gray headed coneflower, Joe Pye weed,
and rattlesnake master which is
Erygium yuccafolium. .

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