Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Plants for wet clay: Prairie Dock

Planted as small plugs three years ago, the Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum - now how do you pronounce that?) put up flowers this year. But that's an understatement. The buds are small round buttons like green peony buds, the flowers are pretty yellow disks, but the real feature, or I should say features, of this plant are the tall flowering panicles (eight to ten feet or more) and the huge leaves (think 18 inches long and 10 inches wide), which emerge in spring. These photos were taken in the first week of September. I almost prefer the seed heads to flowers.


  1. Lovely. I think wet clay is probably the most difficult of all to succeed with. In fall I selectively leave seed pods to overwinter in the garden depending on how well they hold up to wet snow. You?

  2. Wet clay, especially my very wet clay, with a water table at the surface throughout winter, is certainly a challenge. I'm still experimenting with plants to discover what thrives. The winners are mostly highly competitive plants, though the heavy clay does tend to tame them. I too keep the grasses and seed pods through winter, cutting and burning in March.



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