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Connecting to Our Food Web

Dedicated to educational resources towards building and sustaining viable food webs and ecosystems
Globe Flower - Trollius species
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Welcome to My Jungle - June, 2019

"Difficult to establish" can be an understatement for some plants. Over the years, I have out of necessity made a "three strikes, you're out" rule for how many times I allow myself to fail with a plant before accepting defeat. Globeflower (Trollius sp.) for example has a reputation for being difficult, but it is still one of my most regretful three strikes addition to "the dead list" because it has such a beautiful flower. Every time I see it in the nursery I still want it; but "the dead list" stays my hand. I just don't have the preferred sunny bog or pond edge to be successful. I could build a bog, but Trollius also despises the extreme heat of St Louis summers. It looks good the year of planting with a lot of watering but it never makes it through to the next year.

I have also failed at establishing bird's foot violet (Viola pedata), or so I thought. Also reported as being difficult to establish, this native violet grows best in a well-drained soil in full sun, but it will tolerate some shade. It is also in my three strikes dead list. Imagine my surprise then to find a healthy volunteer specimen growing in conditions not considered optimal…somewhat poorly drained soil and almost full shade. It has made it through one winter, so I think it has established with absolutely no help from me. Figures! I don't know where it came from, but it is for sure a welcome addition to my jungle.

I may never be willing to install a bog garden for water loving plants, but I did build a small sunny crevice garden in order to grow plants like our native hoary vervain (Verbena stricta). I already have a history of killing a hoary vervain plant, so this is my second chance to get it right. In my previous planting, I assumed it required the same conditions as its native cousin blue vervain (Verbena hastata), but the two really are quite different in their soil preferences. Blue vervain makes a great rain garden plant due to its preference for moist to wet soil conditions, whereas hoary vervain prefers a well-drained, medium to dry soil. Some other added Illinois natives expected to do well in the sunny crevice garden include pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida), devil's bite (Liatris scariosa), cleft phlox (Phlox bifida), field pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta), fameflower (Phemeranthus calycinus), small skullcap (Scutellaria parvula), Antelopehorn (Asclepias viridis), narrowleaf mountainmint (Pycnanthemum tenufolium) and royal catchfly (Silene regia). So far, no signs of unhappiness!

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