As hot as a July afternoon

I'm describing the bright colors of our fave native perennials. These hard-working superstars will bloom all through the summer with a little care and occasional deadheading to promote even more blooms. 

ASTER - offers hundreds of species across North America. Asters prolifically naturalize to cover large sunny, dry prairies. Excellent border plant in a broad array of colors from pale blue to regal purple. Asters bloom from July through the first hard frost. Butterflies, bees and wasps and other pollinators love the abundant nectar. 

COREOPSIS, also called 'Tickseed' comes in a range of warm colors from pale yellow to gold to rusty red and combos of these colors. Ray-shaped flowers dance on thin stems about 18-24" tall, perfect with mid-height native grasses like little bluestem or prairie dropseed. 



ECHINACEA or coneflower should be in everyone's garden, right? The common name comes from the 'cone' of densely packed seeds in the center of the petals. Songbirds love the seeds, and while you can grow plants from seed, most people prefer to used root cuttings or plant divisions. All parts of the plants have medicinal value, from the flowers to the roots. 



LIATRIS, or blazing star, is the queen of sequel blooming. With at least nine species you can plant, you'll enjoy their lavender to deep purple spikes from spring through fall. Once dominant on the Grand Prairie, blazing star does remarkably well in home gardens. Its unusual characteristic of blooming from top to bottom makes the blazing star a good choice in fresh-cut floral arrangements. The spiky foliage and pods of rattlesnake master make an interesting companion for blazing star in cut arrangements.

Blazing Star


MILKWEED - Swamp or rose milkweed is the host plant for migrating #monarchs. Fragrant, rose-colored, dome-shaped flowers form seed pods in fall, which break to reveal seeds that disperse in the wind. Deer resistent, milkweed grows in average to moist soils and is a great choice for bioswales and rain gardens.

Butterfly milkweed is also a favorite for attracting and sustaining butterflies. Unlike its cousin, swamp milkweed, this fiery orange bloomer prefers a dry, well drained location to survive and set seed.

MONARDA is a must for butterfly and hummingbird gardens with whorls of nectar-rich tubular flowers at the tip of each stem. Grow this pollinator favorite in full sun or part shade with moist, but well-drained soil. 

RUDBECKIA has 'black-eyed Susan' flowers, which bloom profusely with showy gold petals and dark brown centers. 

YARROW has the flat-topped umbrels of tiny flowers to that make the classic butterfly landing pad. Tough, drought-resistant plants bloom all summer in colors that range from white to gold to reds. 

We always include these perennials in #Bluestem landscape designs.  With beauty, performance and the benefits they give to watchable wildlife, what's not to love? Contact to start a conversation about a new, easy-care landscape for your home or business. 






Why we love sustainable (and, you should too!)

As I write this, a male cardinal is snacking on the vibrant red berries of our native Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua). He loves the berries, but he also appreciates the cover from the holly grove's dense branching. We have a suite of birdfeeders, but somehow it's more satisfying to see birds dining on seeds and berries al fresco

This brilliant red male cardinal loves eating berries from our deciduous hollies. 

This brilliant red male cardinal loves eating berries from our deciduous hollies. 

So, obviously one of my top five reasons for a sustainable home landscape is watchable wildlife (#1) . But, you should know when you invite wildlife into your yard you may see sex and violence.  Several years back, a client called to tell me how distraught she was that her children saw a black snake eat a mouse in her backyard.

"Yes, ma'am. That's a great lesson for them on the food chain."  


Hey, bringing nature home isn't all Disney. But, with natural plant and animal diversity (#2) come natural predators that are healthier for the environment--and healthier for us than chemical pesticides, herbicides and, fungicides. Think ladybugs, praying mantis, toads and more.  And, related to this are natural pollinators including butterflies, bees and, hummingbirds. 

Being water-wise is next (#3).  I'm sure our water bill is far less than some in our neighborhood with thirsty non-natives that are out of their element.  The way we've landscaped to slow, absorb and filter stormwater also helps--with a broad bioswale buffer filled with native grasses and woodies and permeable gravel strips. We're part of the solution to saving our local watershed along with those who have redirected downspouts to rain gardens and rain barrels. Household water costs will rise 40% within the next five years making affordable water inaccessible to 1/3 of American households. Do you think people would rather water plants or themselves? 

High-risk areas likely to face affordability challenges are those with a median income below $32,000.   Image by Mack EA and Wrase S, 2017, PLoS ONE

High-risk areas likely to face affordability challenges are those with a median income below $32,000. 

Image by Mack EA and Wrase S, 2017, PLoS ONE


I'd be lying if I didn't admit I love the fact that our landscape is admired by the neighbors (#4). But, that's not just because of the sustainability issues. Although a survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects found a high demand for landscape sustainabiity.  It's also because our design is a native interpretation with design intent. And, that helps give the natural connection (#5) that we all crave and need.  Recent studies from the University of Kansas and University of Michigan found that over 70% of people feel they've lost touch with nature. One finding showed children aged eight to 18 spend nearly eight hours daily in front of screens.  This disconnect leads to depression, reduced attention span, lower self-esteem, stunted academic growth and a lessened empathy for the environment. 

No wonder watching our resident cardinal makes me feel so good! 

Interested in working together? We'd love to talk with you! Email us @ BluestemServices@gmail.com, or just give us a call at 573.230.1196.