Three Benefits of Native Plant Roots

The other day I was watching a show on television that was trumpeting the benefits of organic matter.  It really made me think.  I know organic matter doesn’t exactly get everyone fired up, but one comparison that was presented in this program really opened my eyes to the benefits of prairie plants to the soil.

They took soil samples from the edge of a field, which was untilled remnant prairie, and from the farm field itself.  The prairie edge had nearly six percent organic matter, while the field ranged from two to three percent organic matter.  That may not seem like a big deal, but the prairie provides tremendous improvements to the soil.  There is so much going on underground in a prairie.  Here is an explanation of what native plant roots do for the soil:

They add organic matter.

Organic matter is extremely important in a healthy soil.  It attracts microbes, earthworms, and fungi that bring the soil to life.  These organisms break down the thatch at the surface as well as the roots that die from year to year.

Organic matter reduces compaction, making the soil spongy and able to bounce back.

In addition, organic matter increases the water holding capacity.  It is said that for every one percent of additional organic matter, the soil can receive four percent more water holding capacity.  This is important through prolonged periods without rain.


Western Kansas Prairie-Photo by Larry Vickerman

Organic matter helps prevent soil and wind erosion by binding sandy soil particles together.  This binding property of organic matter prevents caking, cracking, and water run-off that occurs when clay soils dry.

They add nutrients.  

The breakdown of organic matter consequently infuses minerals throughout the soil profile.  For every one percent of organic matter in the soil, it releases on average:

  • 20 to 30 lbs. of Nitrogen
  • 4 to 7 lbs. of Phosphorus
  • 2 to 3 lbs. of Sulfur

Organisms in the soil are vital in the decomposition process.  They help recycle the nutrients into forms that are readily available for plants to absorb through their roots.  It is a symbiotic relationship.  Other plants, like legumes (prairie clovers, lead plant and indigos), actively fix nitrogen from the air and add it to the soil.  These native plants live harmoniously together, forming a matrix of roots that keep giving back to the land.


Purple Prairie Clover at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains

They improve soil porosity.

What we see above ground is only 1/3 of the entire prairie plant.  The roots are 2/3 of the plant and 1/3 of those roots die each year, adding organic matter to the soil and opening pores, so water can percolate deeply into the ground.  If you have a heavy clay soil, native grass roots can break through compacted soils.  It is rare to see standing water in a prairie because of the holes punctured deep into the earth by plant roots, allowing rainfall to be readily absorbed.


The rich soils of the prairie that were broken for farming were a result of huge quantities of organic matter.  In some places in the Tallgrass Prairie, the top soil was over ten feet deep from centuries of organic matter decomposition.  Think of the prairie soil as a living organism that gives and takes and gives and takes.  It is true, prairies develop healthy soils.  Why not start bettering your own soil by growing a prairie?

Five Ways Native Plants Enrich the Environment

One of the traits of being a horticulturist is a heightened awareness of plants.  The good, the bad, the ugly, the sad, and the beautiful are all critiqued.  My family is used to it, but they still roll their eyes from time to time as I stop to look at various landscapes.

Over the past few days as I shop for gifts for Christmas, I have noticed several sad landscaping attempts outside the stores.  Creativity is at a minimum and most displays add nothing to the beauty of the place.  Granted, it is a parking lot or store front, but the plants I have seen do nothing to enrich the environment.

I don’t have all the answers for these areas, but I think native plants could really bring some life to these tough spaces and our own landscapes.  Here are five ways I believe native plants enrich the environment.

Native plants increase biodiversity.

A healthy ecosystem includes a variety of plants that are in bloom throughout the year, attracting a host of pollinators.  We don’t need to give up beauty for function.  Simply put, native plants make things happen in the landscape.

Flying Flowers of Kansas

Native plants enrich the soil.

It goes without saying, but a diverse collection of native plants with deep roots benefits any soil type.  Native plant roots can grow up to 10 to 15 feet deep depending on the species.  Their roots break up heavy clay soils and allow water to thoroughly permeate the soil profile.

A good example would be Big Bluestem.  What we see above ground is only 1/3 of the entire plant.  The roots are 2/3 of the plant and 1/3 of those roots die each year, adding organic matter to the soil and opening pores so water can percolate into the soil.  Legumes such as purple prairie clover or wild indigos fix nitrogen from the air and deposit it into the soil as well.  The extensive root systems of native plants help stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.  Wow, so many soil benefits!

Native Plants Slider

Native plants reduce inputs.

Native plants do not need pesticides or fertilizers to promote growth.  They are able to use nutrients already in the soil to actively grow.  A healthy plant that is not under stress is able to fend off pests more easily.  Native plants are drought tolerant and require little – if any – supplemental water to survive.  If the right plant is matched to the site, that native plant will grow with minimal care after it is properly established.

ArbFlowers 263

Native plants provide habitat.

Native plants increase habitat used by wildlife, particularly songbirds. With songbird populations in decline, native plants provide the food and shelter they need for survival.  Even a small garden display can have a positive impact.

A robin looks for food in a native plant bed.

A robin looks for food in a native plant bed.


Native plants provide a “sense of place”.

Native plants thrive in the Great Plains.  They are adapted to its unique environmental conditions and require no special care to survive. Native plants growing in your area convey an understanding of the special place where we live.  Let’s look at the particular plants that are native to the land and embrace our “sense of place”.


Four Ways to Highlight Elements of Your Natural Landscape.

Many people come to the Luminary Walk each year and enjoy the prairie landscape illuminated by Christmas lights.  It is amazing how a few lights can make the natural landscape come to life at night.  Typically, the winter landscape is cold, harsh and lifeless, but warm glowing Christmas lights can invite you in and provide visual interest.  Here are some ways we use lights to warm up our prairie garden.

Up-Light Trees, Shrubs and Focal Points: 

As trees and shrubs lose their leaves, some remarkable architecture is revealed.  What we perceive as a barren, stark landscape in the winter has beautiful, often unnoticed shapes, forms and branching structure.  The simple use of well-placed lights such as spot lights under trees and shrubs brings these plants to life.  Shop lights with an incandescent light bulb are what we use, but LED can be used as well.  Weaving strings of lights through evergreens or draping lights over shrubs illuminate their round shapes.  I have even wrapped tree trunks and branches with strings of mini lights.  Icicle lights, rope lights, lath wrapped with mini lights, and shooting stars are just a few alternatives to traditional mini lights.


Outline Paths

Strings of mini lights along a path or placed on plants next to the path edge are a fantastic way to lead you through your garden.  I have even used rope lights to brighten a path or bridge.  If you are going to be in the garden at night, why not light up your way?


Less Is More

Too many lights is too commercial in my opinion.  I tend to err on the side of putting out less rather than more.  Focus on a few focal points within the landscape.  Accent the most important elements with lights, but don’t overdo it.  Too many lights will only distract from the natural beauty of your landscape.

We have also been using more LED lights.  They use far less energy than conventional outdoor lights and can be connected together in longer lengths.



Avoid Using Colored Lights:

I know this is a preference, but I really believe white lights make everything seem much brighter. At night, they really stand out more than other colors.  Warm, white lights illuminate plants and focal points naturally.  Red, blues and greens are not normal, authentic and look fake in my opinion.


Bald Cypress


I find new ideas from the web.  People more creative than me are always coming up with ways to illuminate the natural elements in the landscape.  I try to keep it simple by accenting points of interest.  Look at the lights from different perspectives to get the positioning right.  By adding just a few lights you can enjoy you landscape even when it is sleeping for the winter.





Dos and Don’ts of Autumn Yard Work

Gardening in the fall is different from gardening during the summertime.  In my opinion, autumn yard work could barely be called work and borders on fun.  The weather is perfect.  Cool days with warm sunshine lure us outdoors.  Take advantage of this wonderful season, because winter will be here before we know it.  There is so much that can be done in our landscape, but how do we prioritize those chores?  Here is a list of dos and don’ts to help focus your efforts this autumn season:


1. Plant anything and everything.

Trees, shrubs, and perennials benefit from warm soils and beneficial autumn rainfall.  Plants properly established will have a head start next spring. Perennials should be planted well before the end of October. Install spring blooming bulbs, tree and shrubs before the ground freezes.

2. Take inventory and think spring

Analyze each area in your yard to determine how plants performed through the year and what will enhance the landscape.  A quick check now will guide your efforts next spring.


3. Clean up leaves

Remove leaves from display beds so that plants don’t get smothered.  Collected leaves can be composted, which makes excellent plant food and humus.  Analysis shows that, when composted, leaves from most trees can contain up to twice as many minerals as aged manure.

4. Mulch

Fall is a great time to mulch all your plants.  Mulching now will help protect roots from extreme temperatures while also helping the soils to retain moisture in a typically cold, dry winter.  We apply 2-3 inches of new mulch around perennials, trees and shrubs.  Be careful!  Don’t allow mulch to contact the stem or trunk.  We leave a halo around the plants to aid in air exchange and drying.  Too much mulch can cause more harm than good.

Table Rock Maple

Table Rock Maple

5. Water

It is vital that perennials, trees and shrubs are adequately watered throughout the fall.  Newly installed plants don’t have a fully established root system and would benefit from periodic watering.  If the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry, the plants need water.  Evergreen trees continue to need moisture in winter, so irrigate thoroughly if needed before the ground freezes.


1. Do not remove seed heads and stalks.

In certain gardens, we deadhead spent blooms on plants such as gray-headed coneflower to prevent seeding.  Other seedheads are left through the winter as food sources for birds.  We leave ornamental grasses through the winter.  They provide texture and movement in the winter landscape.  These beds will be cleaned up in the spring. Seedheads to leave through the winter include black-eyed Susans, sunflowers, coneflowers, grasses, and trees and shrubs with berries.

Coneflower Seedhead

2. Do not remove habitat.

Logs, leaf piles, brush piles and perennials such as grasses are havens for insects that overwinter in the garden.   These beneficial insects will be drawn to your yard if you provide even just a few of these elements in the landscape.

3. Do not prune trees and shrubs.

Keep in mind that fall is NOT the best time to prune trees and shrubs.  It encourages new growth that will not get hardened off before winter, making it susceptible to damage.  Prune trees in the winter after they have gone dormant.  Shrubs can be pruned in the winter as well, but only if they bloom on new growth.  Pruning spring blooming shrubs in the winter will remove next year’s blooms.  Prune these after they have finished blooming in the spring.

4. Don’t let leaves smother your lawn.

Too many leaves will shade lawns and choke out grass.  Either rake and collect them or shred them if they are not too thick.

5. Do not leave out weather-vulnerable pots.

Clay pots are an investment that can be lost with the first freeze.  If the soil inside the pot freezes, it will expand, causing it to crack.  It is best to remove the soil and put the pot in the garage or tip upside down.  There may be ways to” winter proof” these pots with soil in them, but I don’t like to take the chance.

6. Don’t let weeds go to seed.

This seems obvious, but those weeds have a way of hiding.  Look thoroughly at your landscape.   A little work now with weed removal will pay dividends next year.


Don’t stay indoors this fall.  Do have fun being outdoors in your landscape!


Five Reasons to Love Kansas in Autumn

Last weekend, my family was invited to a get together out in a friend’s pasture.  It was away from any civilization, quiet and cool.  As we sat around the bonfire and visited, I was reminded why this is my favorite time of the year. Here are my reasons for loving Kansas in autumn, but I am sure there are more that you can add:

1. Cooler Weather

Yes, the weather is getting colder.  I love to go to work wearing a sweatshirt and then enjoy a warm late afternoon walk in my shorts and t-shirt. The sunlight is warm and bright, but there’s always a breeze to balance out the heat. It is usually not too hot or too cold, which is perfect in my opinion.

On the gardening front, fall’s cooler weather signals a reprieve from watering and the slowing of maintenance regimens.  This time of year allows me to step back and enjoy the fruits of our labor throughout the year.  I can spend quality time outside taking in the beauty and bounty of the landscape.  It is always good to reflect and appreciate all your energy and effort given during the year.  Otherwise, would it really be worth it?

Maximilian Sunflower


2. The Prairie’s Last Hurrah

Native grasses are at their best right now.  They are in full plumage.  They are changing color from green to bold reds, yellows, and oranges.  They have reached their full height and are spectacular.  If you combine these grasses with just a few fall blooming wildflowers like asters, goldenrods, sunflowers, blazing stars and blue sage, you have the makings for an incredible natural habitat.  I love the way our prairie garden goes a little wild this time of year, still teaming with all sorts of pollinators.



3. Changing Trees

Nothing signals the switching seasons like the trees.  Sure, it is not like New England, but we can have some amazing fall color on our trees.  Have you noticed that one tree in your neighborhood that explodes into color each year?  Since those trees are so rare in this part of the world, we should appreciate them even more.

Table Rock Maple


4. Sunrises and Sunsets

The evening sky has been incredible lately.  Vibrant reds, blues, and purples highlight the sky.  WOW!  Sunrises have been equally spectacular.  So, step outside in the evening or take a morning walk and revel in the beautiful sky.



5. The Smells of Autumn

A warm bonfire while you’re roasting a marshmallow to make a s’more. That first autumn rain after warm, dry weather called petrichor .  The smell of a cool crisp morning.  Pumpkin Pie cooking in the oven.  Anything pumpkin, for that matter.  A warm pot of soup, a freshly mown yard, the rich earth as you turn your garden.  The smell of old leaves on the ground, a freshly brewed cup of coffee, homemade bread cooling on the kitchen counter.  You get the point.


Bonfire at Luminary Walk


Autumn is a great season of the year.  Take some time to appreciate the beauty of fall.  Enjoy moments with family and friends.  Take in the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feel, and the tastes of autumn, because winter is coming all too fast.

Have You Ever Wondered What The Tallgrass Prairie Was Really Like?

In late September, I was at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Strong City, KS.  It was a great experience.  The Flint Hills were in bloom with wildflowers and the grasses were adorned in their autumn glory.  I walked to the top of the bluff on the Southwind Nature Trail and looked to the west.  It is a magnificent sight to behold.  The rolling hills covered with amber grasses were stunning.  I stood there for quite a while taking in the sights and sounds of the tallgrass prairie.


It made me think about the prairie and imagine what it must have been like in the early 1800s – to look at this “sea of grass”  moving and waving in the wind stretching as far as the eyes could see.  The Flint Hills offer us just a glimpse of what The Great Plains used to be. They show us how much we have lost.


These enormous plains with grass up to a horse’s belly or higher were extraordinary.  Early settlers and explorers tried to describe what they saw.  Here are some of their descriptions:

…we walked on over a Ridge came to high large prairies and hills.  We walked on found some cherries near a handsome Spring River and named cherry Run at which we drank at the forks then followed it or one branch to the head which came out of a ridge which joins the prairies, and went up on a high Ridge of prairie where we could See all around for a long distance in the open prairies or as far as our eyes could behold, and on the opposite Side of the Missouris we saw a large and extensive prairie which looked very handsome,…”  The Journals Sergeant John Ordway Kept on the Journey of the Corps of Discovery, July 15, 1804.


“I felt motion in the landscape; in the fresh easy blowing wind, and in the earth itself, as if the shaggy grass were a sort of loose hide, and underneath it herds of wild buffalo were galloping, galloping…” —Willa Cather, My Antonia, 1918


…boundless and beautiful / For which the speech of England has no name– / The Prairies…

…Fitting floor / For this magnificent temple of the sky…

– William Cullen Bryant (1866, “The Prairies,” D. Appleton, New York, NY)



“Elysian (heavenly)  fields of tremendous areas of luxuriant grass” (Fremont 1845)


I would encourage you to visit the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.  Sure, it is not the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, but it is unique to our part of the world.  It highlights an ecosystem that is nearly gone, but worth saving.  It made me more aware of how quickly something can be lost.  I can still hear the birds, feel the wind on my face and picture the hills of grass spreading into the distance as I stood on that overlook.  It was a snapshot of the prairie that will stay with me forever.

Three Reasons I Am Intrigued by the Monarch Migration

Last week (late September) the Monarchs began to congregate in the arboretum.  There are hundreds of them hanging from the branches in the hedgerow of our amphitheater.  They are pooling here until the next north wind can help push them south.


In the last few years, we have only seen a handful in the arboretum during their annual migration.  When I first started working here many years ago, they would cover the trees, turning them orange and black.  We have certainly seen the decline of the population since then, but I am hoping the Monarchs hanging from the trees today signal a turn-around of the decrease encountered since the 1990s.

It is a wonderful and exciting sight to see so many of them.  I could spend hours watching the Monarchs.  They are mesmerizing, thought-provoking and captivating all at the same time.  Here are three reason why they intrigue me so much.

1. They are delicate but strong.

How can something so beautiful and fragile make the nearly 2000 mile journey from Canada to central-Mexico?  Every autumn, millions of monarch butterflies survive this incredible journey.  From start to finish it takes them two months to make the trip.  These delicate monarch butterflies are a marvel of nature.   We admire their beauty and endurance.  If you really think about it, the migration is one the most amazing in the natural world.


2. They love milkweeds and find them in the landscape.

I have heard that Monarchs can smell milkweeds from over two miles away.  It may be from even further away if the milkweed population is large.  Wow, do they have good senses, but their survival depends on them finding milkweeds.

Monarchs use receptors on their antennae to “smell” the milkweeds in your landscape.  As they get closer to the plants, sight takes over to land on the actual plant.  They make the final assessment of the plants with receptors on their feet. So more milkweeds in your landscape will only increase the odds of attracting Monarchs to your garden.


Baby Monarch Caterpillar


3. They use the winds to aid their migration.

As they have been resting and waiting at the arboretum this week, the Monarchs have been feasting on the wildflowers in bloom such as asters, goldenrods, and sunflowers.  I anticipate their departure as soon as the next north wind comes sweeping down the plains.

LateSummerFlowers-2008_ 048

They use the updrafts called “thermals” and prevailing winds to their advantage, much like migrating birds, to preserve energy.  Their flapping wings can propel them southward at speeds ranging between 10 to 25 miles an hour.  Monarchs can travel 50-100 miles per day to complete the two months journey.  There will be time to rest when they finally make it to the warm Central Mexican Oyamel fir forests in the Michoacan hills.

The annual Monarch migration is a magical event.  These winged wonders captivate my/our attention every year.  How can something so small go so far?  It is truly extraordinary how they flutter all the way south.  They are worth saving.  Join me in planting milkweeds and establishing the habitat sanctuaries they need.  We can all be part of the solution.

Asters: Autumn’s Crescendo

Mention fall blooms to most gardeners and they think of chrysanthemums.  Blooming in September and October, “mums” are the major source of color in most late-season gardens.

Another group of fall-bloomers that are just as attractive, but not as well-known, are the asters.  Asters are related to chrysanthemums (both are in the Sunflower Family) and have similar daisy-like flowers.  Like chrysanthemums, asters also come in a wide variety of sizes and colors and are perennial, meaning they come up year-after-year.  There are several native asters in the collections of the Dyck Arboretum and these are discussed below.

The New England aster (Aster novae-angliae) occurs in eastern Kansas.  One of the taller species, this plant may reach three to four feet in height.  The flowers are generally a shade of purple in color, although pink and white-flowered forms have been found.  ‘Purple Dome’, ‘Hella Lacy’, ‘Alma Potschke’ and ‘Vibrant Dome’ are good varieties for the garden.

LateSummerFlowers-2008_ 044

New England Aster with Monarch

The sky blue aster (previously Aster azureus, now Aster oolentaniensis) grow two to three feet tall and has a bright blue flower.  Also occurring in eastern Kansas, this species in particularly useful as a garden plant because it can tolerate dry shade.  ‘Bluebird’ is a nice selection.

The aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius) grows further west than the previous species, and is a more drought-tolerant plant.  Its name alludes to its fragrant purple flowers and pungent foliage when bruised.  This species grows about two foot tall.  We have ‘Dream of Beauty’ (short with pink blooms), ‘October Skies’ (2’ x 2’ with light blue flowers)  and ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ (3’ x 2’ with light blue flowers).

Aster October Skies

Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’

The heath aster (Aster ericoides) has the smallest flowers of any in the group, but it produces them in large enough numbers to make an impressive show.  In the late summer, it is covered with tiny white daisies.  Typically, it grows to two feet tall.  This adaptable plant occurs throughout much of Kansas.  ‘Snow Flurry’ is a groundcover form only reaching 6-8 inches tall.

Fendler’s aster (Aster fendleri) is the smallest of all the Kansas asters, only reaching about eight inches in height.  Occurring in central and western Kansas on dry, rocky prairie, it is probably the most drought-tolerant of our native asters.  In September these low plants are literally covered with lavender daisies.  The variety ‘My Antonia’ would make a nice addition to a xeric garden.

A few varieties for shade would be White Woodland Aster (Aster divaricatus ‘Eastern Star’) which makes a great groundcover with white blooms and mahogany stems.  It only reaches 12 inches tall.  The other woodland aster is Blue Wood Aster (Aster cordifolius) which is taller (3’ X 3’) with loads of tiny light blue flowers.

white wood aster

White Woodland Aster

In addition to being appreciated by humans, many asters also attract many different pollinators including Monarchs.  Planting asters is a good way to bring these beautiful creatures into the home garden.

Of the asters described above, only New England aster is widely available for purchase.  We carry many of these asters at our FloraKansas plant sales.  The others can be obtained from mail-order nurseries that specialize in wildflowers.

These native wildflowers are good examples of plants that are not only beautiful and useful, but also hardy and adapted to our climate and growing conditions.  In my opinion, you should give them a try.


Osage Orange: A Historical Living Fence

It is so common around this part of the country that we take it for granted, but the Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) is a very special tree, valuable to both farmer and wildlife, and integral to the agricultural history of Kansas.

Osage Orange, of course, is the tough, thorny tree of Central Kansas hedgerows.  To many people, it’s also known as hedgeapple, or simply hedge.  It grows so well here, even escaping out into fields and wood lots, it seems that it must have been here before the pioneers arrived.


Osage Orange Hedge


Actually, Osage Orange did not occur naturally in Kansas: its original range was limited to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana until it was brought in for windbreaks and living fences in the 1880s.  At that time, many miles of hedge were constructed by planting thousands of young Osage Orange trees closely together in a line.  Many hedgerows still can be seen dividing fields and pastures today.

Once established, the thorny young trees were pruned to promote thick, bushy growth.  The term “Horse high, bull strong and hog tight”, used to describe the Osage Orange, simply means that the hedge rows were pruned so that they were tall enough that a horse would not jump it, stout enough that a bull would not push through it and woven so tightly that even a hog could not find its way through.  Hedge is tough!


Hedge thorns


When barbed wire was invented, the hedge fences were torn down or left to grow on their own as shelterbelts, field borders and windbreaks.  Along with its attributes as a hedge, Osage Orange has long been valued for the strength and durability of its wood.  Ironically, barbed wire is usually tied to a hedge post to make pasture fences.

The Osage Indians, from which the tree’s name is derived, were noted for using the wood to make bows.  It is reported that Osage Orange bows were so highly regarded by Indian tribes to the north that they were willing to offer a horse and blanket in trade for one.

Anyone who has ever been around the trees in the fall is familiar with their “oranges” (or “apples”). These softball size fruit are produced on the “female” trees, while “male” trees have only pollen producing flowers and do not bear fruit.

Available Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) cultivars include ‘Wichita’ and ‘Whiteshield’ (vase-shaped). Use fruitless and thornless cultivars only.



This common tree is often overlooked, but is a valuable and iconic component of our Kansas landscape. The resilient Osage Orange holds the soil well, and provides cover for wildlife and a windbreak against strong winds. Though it may not function as a fence for modern farmers, its presence here reminds us of the ingenuity and tenacity of our farming ancestors on the Great Plains.


Connecting People with the Prairie

One of the most important components of our mission is connecting people with the prairie. We try to accomplish this in a number of ways, such as through educational programs, plant sales, tours and the Earth Partnership for Schools program.  There is a feeling of value, necessity, stewardship and even urgency to establishing a native plant wildlife garden.  The arboretum is a model of this type of landscaping using prairie plants.  It is our hope that visitors and members desire to learn more about the prairie ecosystem and/or see our displays and decide to follow our example by starting a prairie garden of their own.

One place to begin is to try a few native plants from our FloraKansas fall plant sale.  You can start by transitioning the land surrounding your home to native plants.  Believe it or not, even a small garden can make a difference.  You will be amazed what happens by adding just a few wildflowers to your landscape.  It will be a prairie oasis of beautiful plants that will provide habitat to a variety of pollinators and other wildlife.

Help the Monarchs by planting one of these milkweeds available at the sale.

  • Common milkweed-Asclepias syriaca
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Common milkweed

  • Butterflyweed-Asclepias tuberosa


  • Swamp Milkweed-Asclepias incarnata
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Swamp milkweed

  • Green Antelope Horn-Asclepias viridis
  • Whorled Milkweed-Asclepias verticillata
  • Sullivant’s Milkweed-Asclepias sullivantii


Plant a tree this fall.  Here are the trees available at the sale.

  • Downy Serviceberry-Amelanchier arborea
  • Pawpaw-Asimina triloba
  • Pecan-Carya illinoinesis
  • Shagbark Hickory-Carya ovata
  • Mockernut Hickory-Carya tomentosa
  • Chestnut-Castanea mollissima ‘Bond Orchard Selection™20817’
  • Redbud-Cercis canadensis
  • Yellowwood-Cladrastis kentukea
  • Eastern Wahoo-Euonymous atropurpurea
  • Black Walnut-Juglans nigra ‘Orchard Selections’
  • Eastern Hophornbeam-Ostrya virginiana
  • Black Cherry-Prunus serotine
  • White Oak-Quercus alba
LateSummerFlowers-2008_ 002
White Oak
  • Bur Oak-Quercus macrocarpa
  • Chinkapin Oak-Quercus huehlenbergii
  • Dwarf Chestnut Oak-Quercus prinoides
  • Shumard Oak-Quercus shumardii
  • Post Oak-Quercus stellata
  • Sassafras-Sassafras albidum


Do you have shade?  Choose from some of these shade-loving perennials.

Woodland Phlox-Phlox divaricata

Greenhouse.4.20.2015 (9)

Woodland Phlox

Wild Columbine-Aquilegia canadensis

Native Columbine

Native Columbine


Does your landscape attract garden friendly wildlife? Do you implement good land management practices such as using less water, spreading less fertilizer, applying little or no insecticides?  Utilizing wildflowers and grasses from the prairie in your landscape will foster a sustainable future for us and the world around us.  Be part of the conservation movement.  Imagine your native prairie garden combined with other native landscapes in our area providing food and habitat for a host of wildlife.  It will make a difference.