Controlled Chaos in the Prairie

Controlled chaos is what I call my native prairie – emphasis on chaos.


Echinacea pallida (Pale Purple Coneflower) was drop dead gorgeous in it’s second season.


The following winter I discovered voles or 13-lined ground squirrels, comfortably nested under the snow, having a banquet on the corms. Goodbye Flowers. After that, the weeds moved in – Bindweed, Quackgrass, Black Medic, Sow Thistle – I got ‘em all.

So I just began digging.

And digging . . .

And digging . . .

Then pitching the entire mess into the dumpster. Hey – would YOU want Bindweed in YOUR mulch pile?


Support staff is “ready and able”.

When you have GIANT HOLES to fill, adversity can be an opportunity for improvement.

This season’s additions include Cacalia plantaginea (Prairie Indian Plantain), a sweet thing I first saw at Hitt’s Siding, a prairie remnant courtesy of the Burlington Northern RR (below):

Cacalia plantaginea -Prairie Plantain

Melanthium virginicum (Bunch Flower) is touted by Prairie Moon Nursery. When bare root plants were offered on sale this spring, I bit.


Silene regia (Royal Catchfly) – can’t get enough of this exceptional plant. This is what it looked like last year, blooming concurrently with Ratibida pinnata (Yellow Coneflower). I have a sinking feeling this gorgeous specimen ended up in my dumpster.


Anemone canadensis (Meadow Anemone) is known to grow in gravel along roadway edges. Might it keep the Chickweed and Clover at bay?

Don’t let me down, Meadow Anemone. Grow . . . please grow!

Last year’s Anemone in the Ditch Garden:


So, there’s hope. (I hope.)

Solidago graminifolia (Grass-leaved Goldenrod) is both rhizomatous, aggressive, and downright scary when let loose in the garden. I’ll include a picture from as mine are pretty darn puny.

Desperate conditions require desperate measures.


Callirhoe involucrata (Wine Cups) — I really don’t understand why I keep killing this thing. It has this charming habit of threading itself amidst its companions with vivid cup shaped flowers reaching for sunlight. Lovely with Diervilla lonicera and, well, just about anything!


Now to figure out how to mark these things so I do not destroy them with my pick and shovel next year in a weeding frenzy.


There will be no more weeding my weeds!




Peonies now spent, roses beginning to open and the prairie is filled with shapes and textures that are so lovely to look at.


This time of year is so exciting to me, like the moment you feel at a horse race when the gate is about to open.


Echinacea purpurea (Pale Purple Coneflower) below:


Tradescantia ohiensis (Spiderwort)


Baptisia leucantha (White Wild Indigo)


In a few short weeks a cacophony of color will follow.


Join me for a stroll?