I grew up in Minneapolis and have been growing native plants for about 7 years as a way to enhance my connection with the natural history of this specific place that I live. The first plants I ever grew were a few garden beans that I threw out into our front yard when I was in about 2nd grade. They grew, and I was amazed and have been enthralled with plants ever since. I have about 2 years of college behind me, no degree. I took a great Plant Propagation course at the U. of MN. a few years ago which was excellent. Observing and interacting with growing plants , especially natives, is truly inspirational to me. I don't claim to be an expert with plants, natives included, but mostly would like to encourage others to develop their own experience with these amazing transformers of solar energy.
Ok, until I learn how to post a little comment by each picture I upload, I'll have to do it this way. Ahhh, learning curves, gotta love 'em. The top picture is Cornus alternifolia, Alternate-leaf or Pagoda Dogwood. A lovely woodland shrub which will reach to 25 feet and likes part to full shade. It's the native counterpart to the Kousa Dogwood from Asia. Really nice horizontal structure and beautiful leaves and nice berries too. Next is Silphium perfoliatum, Cup Plant, a tall plant of wet prairies, growing in hopefully the wettest part of my yard. These plants were seedlings last year, so have some work to do, but should reach 6 feet this year, I expect, if they can puncture the clay subsoil. Interesting that this photo shows a bit of petiole on the leaf, but as the species name suggests, these leaves will actually clasp the stem when mature, making small cups which will catch rain and sustain bugs and birds in their thirst. Third plant down is Salix discolor, Pussy Willow, which had a cloud of bee-like insects buzzing around them like electrons, but which escaped the camera's image, exactly opposite of the fairies so drawn to certain photographers lenses who capture them all over the British Isles. Really, they were there ! Fourth, I introduce Agastache foeniculum, Anise hyssop. If you like the smell of Anise or Black Licorice, you must obtain some of these amazing scented herbs. Wow! And pretty blue flower spikes which bees also love. (But not yet) I hear you can make a tea of the leaves, which I haven't tried yet, but I'll try to remember to do that this year. (they don't have caffeine though, as far as I know) Next, (number 5) you'll find Rudbeckia laciniata, Wild Golden Glow. This plant could easily be a replacement for the crazy tropical that some people like to grow right next to their front door as an annual, Castor Bean Plant. Why? Beacuse the clump I have in my front yard grew to be at least 8 and maybe 9 feet tall last year ! Really. And with it's awesome foliage and pretty yellow flowers, it's a fine specimen. It, however doesn't display the red on green foliage that Castor Bean does. But unlike Castor bean, it will come back all by itself the next year. And, well, native pollinators will be fed another year. It also can grow in very shady to full sun situations. I'm not sure which of either sun or water are bigger limiters of size for this one. Ok, last up for this post is Aquilegia canadensis, the Columbine, beautiful woodland forb. Really pretty red and yellow flowers, can handle full sun to near full shade, and also fine with fairly dry settings. The seedpods yield a bounty of seeds to scatter about the garden for a bigger crop next year. Note that you can click (or maybe double-click) on any picture to get a bigger version, try it