As May is beginning to wind down in southern Alberta, native wildflower gardens become a canvas of natural beauty. Here in my garden, the native Red Columbines, Prairie Smoke, and Sticky Purple Geraniums are enchanting with their captivating hues and delicate forms. Follow along for a tour!
Spring Blooming Native Wildflowers
Sticky Purple Geranium (Geranium viscosissimum). These are plugs that I planted almost one year ago (see my post about planting native plugs here). The geraniums are really filling out and seem to be enjoying the poor, dry soil.
Three Flowered Avens/Old Man’s Whiskers/Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum). Such unique flowers! Because Prairie Smoke thrives where it’s hot and dry, it’s a great choice for native prairie gardens.
Red Columbine (Aquilegia formosa). Gorgeous bright blooms! They can handle shade, so they’re perfect for the north side of our house where it’s difficult to find shade-loving plants that don’t require a lot of moisture.
Richardson’s Alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii). Some folks think these flowers are unimpressive, but I am fascinated by their delightful uniqueness. The tall, slender stem with the pod-like flowers sways high above the low growing plant with its distinctly shaped heuchera leaves. This alumroot is very slow growing, so my yarrow wants to crowd it out, as you can see. Guess I didn’t think that combination through!
Here’s a close up of the heuchera flowers.
Next is yarrow (Achillea borealis), just about to bloom. If we don’t get hailed out this year, I expect the yarrow will put on a stunning display! A note of caution: yarrow spreads like wildfire. I love it’s feathery softness and interesting texture, but it’s certainly not an ideal choice for a small space.
Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana). Meant as a groundcover, this wild strawberry is doing it’s job well! The poor and dry soil doesn’t seem to hamper its growth at all. I’m eager to see if it will produce berries this year as well.
Blue Flax (Linum lewisii). The first few blue flax blooms are just opening up. Soon the plants will be absolutely smothered in blue-purple blossoms.
I believe these are Canada anemones (Anemone canadensis), but these were transplants from my grandma’s garden. Although they have pretty blooms, be aware that they spread with wild abandon.
Early Blue Violets (Viola adunca). These are nearly finished blooming; this photo was taken a week or two ago.
Spring Blooming Native Grass, Fern
Rocky Mountain Fescue (Festuca saximontana). Difficult to photograph, but the inflorescences of these fescue clumps are so beautiful and delicate. You can learn more about grasses and their flowering stages here.
Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). These aren’t technically blooming, but they’re gorgeous and I wanted to share. Ostrich ferns are late to begin growing, but they’re shooting out of the ground now! I’m hoping they spread in this shady garden at the front of my house.
Spring Blooming Non-Native Plants
These are irises dug a couple of years ago from my neighbor’s garden. They’ve really filled out and although I never thought I’d love irises, this big swath of color brings me joy!
An all-time favorite of mine, ornamental alliums! Although a little wild neighborhood bunny has enjoyed some of the leaves of these alliums, they haven’t suffered too greatly.
Salvia is another favorite of mine. These are the variety “May Night” and I’ve had great success with them. They are positively dazzling when in full bloom! Salvias prefer full sun and can handle it dry.
Salvia again, with a few alliums mixed in.
Peonies are almost ready to open!
And finally, lilacs!
Remember, I only add the non-natives as accents or because I really love their color or beauty, or because they have other supporting roles in the native garden.
Do what you like in your garden, but just remember that by embracing native gardening, we not only celebrate the unique character of our region but we also support the local ecosystem, attracting pollinators and fostering biodiversity.
As the spring landscape unfolds its colorful tapestry, let the harmony of nature’s design inspire your own gardening endeavors.