Prairie Flower & Herb Garden

Selections for a natural-style flower and herb garden in the northern prairies. Low-maintenance; sunny, dry location; zone 3 hardy; perennial. Whimsical meadow theme; attracts beneficial insects; many are good cut flowers.

Overwintering: water well and mulch generously before first freeze. Pile extra snow on top. Give extra protection on years when cold and winds come before a good layer of protective snow has arrived.

Achillea (Yarrow) A. ptarmica 12-24″ White blossoms; ground cover. “Love Parade” has baby-pink blossoms; grows in clumps. A. millefolium 24″ White, pastel or deep colours. Drought tolerant; deer-proof.

Allium (Onion) Many varieties; many sizes. Vibrant pinks, purples, yellow, white blossoms; perfect globe shaped; late-spring to mid-summer. Water regularly while actively growing. Drought tolerant. Looks best planted in odd-numbered groups, not singly. (cm-may not do well in a crowd)

Delphinium belladonna <5′ Purple/blue blossoms; loose spikes; late spring to midsummer. Some work: 3-4 year lifespan, self-reseed not as spectacular; deadhead & divide regularly for sturdier plants & longer lifespan. Likes rich soil – feed regularly.

Digitalis grandiflora (Foxglove) 24″ Yellow blossoms; tall spikes; early to mid-summer. Deer- and pest-proof. Biennials – may self-reseed, or may need help. (cm*)

Echinacea (Purple coneflower) 36″ Pink or lavender-purple blossoms; summer through fall. E. angustifolia: medicinal. E. purpurea: classic purple. (cm*)

Echinops ritro (Globe thistle) 36″ Blue; large spiny globes; mid- to late summer; cut & dry before fully open. Drought tolerant; pest-proof.

Helianthus occidentals (Sunflower) 48″ Yellow blossom; cone or disk-shaped. Drought tolerant.

Lavendula angustifolia (Lavender) This variety is the one popular for herbal uses. Drought tolerant.

Malva (Mallow) 20″-28″ Pink or white blossoms; pairs nicely with nepeta.
(Variety M. sylvestris has violet blossoms on tall plants, 36″.)

Mentha (Mint) Tea. Cultivars: spearmint, peppermint, and many more. Aggressive spreader –  contain in out-of-ground planter or raised bed; or plant in wide open area with no neighbouring gardens where they are welcome to spread.

Mondara citriodora (Lemon bergamot) 30″ Rose-purple short-lived blossoms; summer/fall. Tea.

Nepeta racemosa (Catmint) 6-36″ varieties. Lush, rich lavender-blue blossoms; spikes; long-blooming, throughout summer to early fall. Drought tolerant, deer- and pest-proof. Divide every 3 years. (cm* “lovely”)

Origanum (Oregano)

Papaver (Poppy) Asst varieties 8″, 12″, 36″ Variety of coloured blossoms; early spring.

Salvia (Sage) Purple blossoms; spikes; throughout summer. Grey-green savoury scented foliage. Doesn’t overwinter well. S. nemorosa sap. tesquicola: 24″ Sturdy, brilliant large blossoms. S.  officials: <30″ Culinary herb. Deer-proof.

Thymus (Thyme) Lots of hybrids – the fancier, the less hardy. Overwinter in a pot. Thymus x citriodorus: 10″ Lemon thyme. Lavender-pink blossom. T. doerfleriBressingham‘: 4″ Creeping thyme; hardy. Smells nice when trodden on; set along paths. T. vulgaris: <12″ Culinary herb.  Drought tolerant.

Verbena hastata 48″ Dark blue, pink, or white flowers. V. stricta: 24″ Lavender-purple blossoms. Native to prairies; drought-tolerant. Pretty little “confetti cut-out” shaped flowers.

Veronia (Ironweed) 6′ Purple-viotet blossoms; late summer. Does well in heavy soils, even clay; also tolerates drier areas.

 

Sources:

The Northern Gardener: Perennials That Survive and Thrive, by Barbara Rayment (Harbour Publishing)

Lois Hole’s Perennial Favourites, by Lois Hole and Jill Fallis (Lone Pine)

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