WEEK OF MAY 10th – Spring has sprung, and many plants are flowering. Main Library Associate Steve Oakes has a few species currently blossoming that you will also find in nearby parks and conservation areas. In his own landscape, he has focused on reducing the amount of turf in his yard and replacing it with plants native to the area. The yard incorporates the use of wildflowers that blossom during different parts of the growing season. The week of May 10th has provided the following explosion of color.

Rose Verbena (Glandularia canadensis) is one of the earlier plants to flower. The verbena is not only beautiful but is being used as a ground cover as it spreads readily.  In addition, the leaves will remain green for a good part of the winter.

A small part of the backyard is dedicated to prairie plants. Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) has unique, fun flowers. Another name for the plant is “Old Man’s Whiskers.” However, if the Lorax were to visit, thoughts of miniature Truffula Trees may come to mind. The low-lying leaves of this hardy perennial act as a ground cover as well, reducing the need for mulch. It will spread by rhizomes and by self-seeding.

Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa) has poppy-like, white flowers. 

It is a member of the buttercup family and is often found in wooded areas. Use of the cut flowers in arrangements is desirable due to their long-lasting qualities.

Three Eastern Blue Stars (Amsonia tabernaemontana) were planted two years ago in the prairie section of the yard. This spring, two more of these star-shaped flowering plants emerged to the delight of pollinators seeking nectar in late April. It grows up to three feet in height and expands as a clump up to three feet wide; however, the spread will occur over many seasons. It enjoys at least six hours of direct sunlight.

A flood of yellow, Round-leaf Groundsel (Packera obovata) graces the shady side of the house. It, too, is a spreading perennial that retains its green foliage throughout winter. The plant remains flowering for several weeks.

In addition to supplying food for pollinators, there is also edible landscaping, including strawberries and blueberries. Sometimes, a small batch of strawberries will be ripe by Mother’s Day. The blueberry bushes (in the bottom photo), however, will take a little longer before the fruit is produced. The leaves will turn a crimson red in autumn.

This woodland wonder, Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), is hard to spot in the wild. 

It is well camouflaged, blending in with other early emerging, low-lying vegetation typical of forested areas.

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), or Canadian Columbine, welcomes Ruby-Throated hummingbirds returning northward on their spring migration. Also pictured is Bee Balm, or Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). This will be covered in the next post.

All the plants pictured in this blog are perennials and do well in the Kansas City climate when planted under the right conditions (shade or sun, moist or dry, etc.). All the plants pictured, besides the blueberries, have multiplied, and the extras have been shared with many friends, neighbors, and family.

For more information on planting native wildflowers in your landscape and the benefits thereof, visit the FL Schlagle branch of your own Kansas City, Kansas Public Library at Wyandotte County Lake Park, 4501 West Dr., Kansas City, KS 66109. There, you too can see what’s in bloom. And check out the butterfly garden as well.

This website provides tips on the growing trend of native landscaping.

Plus, the following are just a few of the books from the Kansas City Kansas, Public Library that may be of interest.

The Midwest Native Plant Primer: 225 Plants for an Earth-Friendly Garden by Alan Branhagen

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy

Photos by the author

© Steve Oakes