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!


  1. I love your prairie. Funny how many plants we have in common, even though we're in the Hill Country and you're near Dallas. Cowpen Daisy and Bee Brush are the only two in this post I don't have. The Bee Brush is new to me, going to check it out.

    I admire your fortitude about watering. I can't stand it when we're dry for 3 weeks, the ground cracks and the plants wilt. So I water the beds around the house. And any new trees. Every year I say no more trees but somehow we get a few I can't live without. This year was a desert willow transplant and an escarpment black cherry, both super drought tolerant once established, but needing attention at least every 2-3 weeks in summer temps if we haven't had rain. Next year...

  2. Kathleen, we do have many plants in common. It seems like many of the native plants on the market up here come from the Hill Country. I try to locate plants that are native to this area. I have been known to get seeds and an occasional plant from along railroad tracks.

    Bee Brush is great. It blooms after a rain (or watering) and the flowers have a nice fragrances. Bees love the flowers. If you were nearby, I have a spare plant I could give you.

    I think I actually put more water around the foundation of the house during the summer than I put on the garden. The clay soils are rough on foundations. At least we should all be getting some rain this week!

  3. Well, shoot, I'd love to have the bee brush. Surely you're planning a Hill Country river trip sometime this summer?

  4. I loved your garden, how much would it cost to build one from scratch?

  5. Littlebear, this one was built from scratch, but I have no idea what it cost. Probably not much. The biggest expense was my time and sweat. The biggest financial expense was the decomposed granite used for pathways. The plants were probably the smallest expense because I got many of them on sale and divided others. Natives usually reseed pretty easily too.

    Sorry, Kathleen. No river trips planned. I did that a few years ago when I was down there for work and had a great time.

  6. Great looking garden!! I moved here from the Hill country. I now live in East Dallas. I have very heavy compacted clay soil. How much amending did you have do to have such great success? And, besides compost, what did you do to loosen up your soil?
    Did you use a tiller?
    Thanks for the blog and the great pictures. Keep fighting the good fight.

  7. Hello Anonymous. Welcome to Dallas!

    I did not do much to improve my soil. After removing the grass, I turned it with a turning fork. I mixed in some lava sand and expanded shale, but not nearly as much as is normally recommended. I think I only added about three bags of cotton bur compost for the whole front yard.

    Most of my plants are native to this area, so they are used to growing in this soil. Even with minimal soil improvement, a light annual application of organic fertilizer and infrequent watering, my native plants will get much larger than they would in the wild. If you over improve the soil, over fertilize or over water, many natives may have weak growth and flop over or they may die. Of course, the extent you prepare the soil, fertilize, and water will depend on what you plant. If you want to grow azaleas, it’s a whole different story.

    Good luck gardening in Dallas.

  8. Hey Bluestem! I live in Allen, TX just a few miles from Plano. This might be a really stupid question, but I would LOVE to plant frogfruit seed in decomposed granite between flagstone on our patio and I am not certain if it will grow....Do I have to take out the decomposed granite and replace with soil before I plant? Any advise would be appreciated :) Thanks, Hannah

  9. Hannah, my frogfruit is growing into my decomposed granite pathways. The plant spreads by runners where ever it wants to and then the runners take root. You should not have any problems with it growing, but you may have problems with it covering your flagstones too. It could be a lot of work if you want to keep the runners trimmed off of the stones. The little sprig I planted last year now covers at least 10 square feet--solid!

  10. That really makes me sad! I just fell in love with frogfruit!!!! Well I will have to find another place for it. Do you have any ideas for a low growing ground cover for a flagstone patio? I wanted something that would be low maintenance, drought tolerant, and can be grown in full sun. Any ideas?

  11. Hannah, you should give the frogfruit a try. If you get a lot of foot traffic on your patio, it could keep the growth in check. I have seen it growing close to the ground where it gets walked on a lot. Mine does not get walked on. There are a few references on the internet about using it between stepping stones. Here is one:
    The only other plant I can think of is thyme. Good luck!


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