Monday, July 26, 2010

July Prairie Update

My prairie was going into semi-dormant state due to the hot, dry spring until it rained about three weeks ago. A little rain really made a difference. Flowers started blooming again. The little bluestem grass started growing again. Now we are all watching the skies for more rain or waiting for me to flip the switch on the sprinkler system.
I love the shot of the front yard prairie, below. It looks like the real thing! It is hard to believe it is really part of a 9,800 square foot residential lot in the middle of the city. Click this link for a 2009 post and see what the rest of the neighborhood looks like.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Prairie Plant Profile #2 – Brown-eyed Susan

Brown-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba, is a tall, multi-branched perennial in my prairie. At the end of June or beginning of July the plants are covered in bright orange-yellow flowers with dark brown centers. After the initial flush of flowers, Brown-eyed Susan sporadically produces a few more flowers for the next couple of months. The flowers attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.
You may be able to extend the blooming by dead heading the spent flowers, but I usually leave them for interest in the winter landscape. Additionally, birds may feed on the seed heads. But be careful about leaving the seed heads on the plants. You may have little Brown-eyed Susan plants all over the place in the spring.
My plants usually grow between 3 and 5 feet tall depending on age and planting location. Brown-eyed Susan grows in full sun, but they can also adapt to a fair amount of shade. Brown-eyed Susan is drought tolerant, but appreciates a little water to prevent wilting in the afternoon heat. A little shade in the afternoon will help with the wilting too.
By comparison, the more common Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’, on the left in this photo, is a shorter plant and has larger flowers than Brown-eyed Susan.
Both the Brown-eyed Susan and the Black-eyed Susan are great sources of summer color after the spring flowers have faded.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Prairie Fireworks

Who needs fireworks for Independence Day when prairie flowers are just as dazzling?

My prairie flowers are coming out of a semi-dormant state due to drought and they are beginning to put on quite a show. Before last week’s rains, my prairie had not seen much water in several weeks. Thanks to Hurricane Alex and other storm systems, my prairie received several inches of rain.

Enjoy the prairie “flowerworks” show.

Indian Blanket, Gaillardia pulchella

Prairie Verbena, Verbena bipinnatifida

Gregg's Mistflower, Conoclinium greggii

Turk's Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus var. Drummondii

Bee Brush, Aloysia gratissima

Lemon Horsemint, Monarda citriodora

Frogfruit, Phyla nodiflora

Cowpen Daisy, Verbesina encelioides

Standing Cypress, Ipomopsis rubra

Green Milkweed, Asclepias viridis

Mexican Bird of Paradise. Caesalpinia gilliesii
(native to Argentina)

Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida

Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida

Happy Fourth of July from the Plano Prairie Garden!