Mothers Day Blown Away by Prairie Smoke

I like to spend Mothers Day communing with Mother Nature and planting.  I used to content myself with converting our lawn into flower beds, but now  Doug and I focus on  plants that recreate the diversity of a natural community on our 44 acres.  For Mothers day, we got  54 of  the plants at the UW Arboretum plant sale.

Prairie Smoke, Geum triflorum

We made our selections while volunteering to help  prepare for the sale, spending a pleasant Thursday afternoon organizing thousands of plants as they were trucked in from local nurseries and arranging them alphabetically, grouped according to their preferred environment on long tables under a big tent.   It’s one of my favorite volunteer activities of the year.

While sorting and pricing, you can browse the info cards about all the adorable little plantlets, all native to this area.  Each flat of seedlings sits in front of a photo of itself in radiant maturity, and each label lovingly lays out the soil and light conditions needed to make the transition.  It’s my own personal Disneyland, filled with fantasies of an invasive-free world where deer don’t particularly love freshly planted trout lilies.

..assembling the troups

The dream now includes actual Prairie Blazing Star and Sideoats Grama Grass in the savanna, Prairie Dropseed in the prairie, Marsh Milkweed, Joe Pye Weed and Bluejoint Grass along the edge of the pond, and Prairie Smoke next to the barn.

..filling the burn circle in the glade

I’m especially excited about the Prairie Smoke Geum triflorum.

It is one of the first prairie flowers to bloom in the spring

Its seed heads look like trails of rosy smoke drifting away from a fire.  It evidently spreads slowly by rootstock and makes a great low-growing ground cover for hot dry spots, and I have the perfect hot, dry spot in front of the rock wall by my barn.

Amazingly I saw this wonder for the first time just a few weeks ago surrounding the base of the towering Sun Singer statue in Allerton Park outside Monticello IL.  It was love at first site.  Seeing it again in the Arboretum plant sale was like a dream come true.

...The Prairie Smoke is thick around the base of this rather incongruous statue in the middle of the Sangamon River Valley.

What is your favorite spring prairie flower?  Where did you meet?

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