There is so much talk about growing native plants these days: what is native, what isn't, what are weeds, what can be called "wildflowers", what natives belong in a home garden and what should best be left in the wild, on and on. In my opinion (which I don't think you asked for, but I'm gonna give it to you anyway, I'm shameless) there are many native wildflowers which can be grown in a garden. But! and here's the caveat: some just aren't suitable or even manageable in a small space. Some of them need room, lots of it! Many need the kind of environment most backyard gardeners can't give them, and may just turn up their toes and die in our nice rich garden soil with all the water they could ever possibly want.....or else, on such a rich diet, go absolutely kick-up-their-heels rampant and try to fill every available corner with their offspring or their greedy roots. A firm hand is needed with these characters. They are native plants because they have adapted to survive under specialized, and sometimes harsh conditions that exist in the local environment. A few actually need fire to germinate!
Prairie wildflowers are among those that survive on neglect, producing zillions of seeds, only a small percentage of which will actually find the right conditions to germinate. In spite of being found in full, intense sun on open prairies, a lot of them are actually shade plants, growing in the shade of tall grasses that tower over them as they complete their life cycles.
Those pictured below are all plants of the midwest. Many of them can be found all over the United States, wherever prairie-like accomodations for these hardy plants can be found: in pastures, on roadsides, empty lots, in sidewalk cracks where you would thnk they couldn't get a root-hold.
. They ask for little more than a bit of soil, sun,
and that it rains once in a while.
Mimosa nuttallii (sensitive briar, cat's claw)
A wild member of the allium family
Echinacea (cone flower)
Asclepias (Butterfly weed)
The wonderful golden seed puff of goatsbeard
Not your average garden! But this is where they all live, and do it so beautifully!
Many of these grow in my garden, and I find that they do very well. (Note: Most of them have come on their own, with no help from me, except to recognize them when I saw them.) Almost too well, in fact. With good soil and plentiful water, the majority of them tend to be a bit invasive, or at the least, extremely aggressive. They have to be tended to with a ruthless hand, pulling them out with no sentiment or there would be no paths or beds, just a sea of wildflowers to wade through! Which, come to think of it, might not be such a bad thing!
"A wildflower is just a weed with a pretty face. If ragweed was beautiful, we wouldn't care if it made us sneeze!"---Anon.
To learn more about the Roaring River Conservation Opportunity Area, please visit their website:http://mdc4.mdc.mo.gov/Documents/17987.pdf And if you get an opportunity, visit in person!