Prairie or Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) is worth considering as a garden alternative to Common Milkweed (A. syriaca). A key difference is that Prairie Milkweed is much less aggressive, in fact in my garden it has been fairly slow to establish.

So I had the good fortune to meet a fellow avid gardener recently. His name is Mike Miller and he lives in the adjacent town of Wilmette. He was nice enough to invite Judy and me to visit his garden. As soon as we pulled up to the curb, I could see that it was something special.

It seems that plants are always teaching me new lessons about how they behave in the garden and respond to weather and other conditions. This summer, there are three native plants that have been on my mind.

The Driveway Border

First, Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata). I’m fond of this plant with its central cone like a clown’s nose and bright yellow yet droopy ray flowers. In rich garden soil, though, it tends to grow too tall (5′ or more) and flop. To limit this tendency I use tall tomato cages.

So we got back from our trip to New York about a week ago. We had an excellent time, though travel wears me out more than it used to. Judy took about a thousand photographs (not an exaggeration). Most of the material I’m going to keep for later, but I do want to do one post now about a garden in New York that just opened this year.

Little Island is a 2.5 acre garden that is built on the remains of an abandoned pier on the Lower West Side.

So guess what. Judy and I are going to New York City for a few days and I have to get ready, so this will be a short post.

July is the month of Monardas here. We have one straight species (Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa) and three hybrid cultivars: ‘Raspberry Wine’, ‘Purple Rooster’, and what I suspect is a home-grown hybrid that looks like a cross between Wild Bergamot and ‘Purple Rooster’.

Gardeners interested in Monarda should check out two trials of various species and cultivars conducted by the Mt. Cuba Center (published earlier this year) and the Chicago Botanic Garden (published back in 1998).

The view from our front door with all our types of Monarda represented.

A Tour Of The Back Garden In Early July

So now let’s take the overview of the garden to the back of the house.

A flagstone path leads to the Back Garden.

Happy 4th of July. July is when things start to pop in the garden after the June lull, so I thought this might be a good time to provide a tour or overview of where things are right now.

Right now there are two species of Milkweed blooming in our garden: Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and Butterflyweed (A. tuberosa). As you probably know, native Milkweed species are essential to the future of the Monarch Butterfly.

Right now is the peak Clematis moment here in our garden. This refers, first of all, to what we call the Great Wall of Purple filled out by Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ on part of the west-facing wall of the house, around the corner from the front door.

Here we are walking up the driveway to the Great Wall of Purple.

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