We are fortunate to have as a backyard, over one hundred acres of prairie. Since part of our livelihood involves propagating and growing native plants it is good to view the potential of what we advocate. Many of our customers are working on lakeshore restorations, rain gardens, and other projects involving the planting of native plants.
Although it is good to have lots of native grasses in a restoration area, it’s the flowering plants that probably excite us the most. My daughter remarked to me once, “Am I a complete plant nerd if I have a favorite native grass?” Certainly we plant lovers go to great extremes as we embrace the flora of the world, but even plant nerds get most excited by the explosion of colors that the flowering plants provide.
We are now entering the high season of color on the prairie. Echinacea, Ratibida, and Asclepias are only some of the excited participants in the big show of summer hues on the plains. Although hidden among the grass camouflage for most of the year these plants now give away their locations in unashamed brilliance. If sound was part of their display the roar would be deafening.
The peak of the prairie bloom is always a bitter/sweet time, for as the grasses and flowers reach bloom time they are at their peak of size and maturity. From now on it’s a time of gradual decline. The plants set their seed crop and all the beauty wanes as the most important thing on the plants’ minds is carrying on the species, setting seedpods and preparing them for the eventual drop back to earth with the hope of another season.
Enjoy the fireworks now; they don’t last long and of course in Minnesota we all know what awaits us just around the climate corner.