By Marcy Bean
Native prairie plants are beneficial for clean water and habitat, but they have the added virtue of being beautiful. We are lucky at the MWMO to have our very own urban prairie to watch change through the seasons. As the spring showers come, we’ll start to see some of the early spring blossoms: Pasque Flower and Prairie Smoke.
Pasque Flower (Anemone patens) is a subtle plant that starts coming up with fuzzy pale green foliage and then will surprise you with multiple pale purple-blue flowers in a few weeks. I have the same species in my flowerbeds at home in a shadier spot, so they come up just a bit later than the full sun location in our Stormwater Park and Learning Center‘s main raingarden.
Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) has an almost evergreen leaf with a tinge of red. They start to green up earlier than most of the prairie plants here. The blossoms are sweet little pink-red buds that, when seeding, start to open up to look like smoke.
Both of these plants stay quite short, so they’re great to keep on the front edge of a native planting, along your sidewalk or strategically placed on a little rock garden wall. They stay relatively compact and tidy. They self-seed, but are not aggressive in the garden.
I’m a plant lover, not a botanist, so if you really want more details on these plants, check out these resources:
- Anemone patens (American Pasqueflower) – Minnesota Wildflowers
- Prairie Smoke, Geum triflorum – Wisconsin Master Gardener Program
(Top photo credit: Krista Lundgren, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)