A Wildflower Garden

beard-tongue-jpg.jpgMissourians love their wildflowers
and there is no better way to enjoy and learn about these beautiful native plants than by visiting a wildflower botanical garden.
      The Wildflower Garden in the Springfield Botanical Gardens in Springfield, Missouri, promises to be an outstanding resource
Happily, the Garden in 2011 received the donation of many plants from the estate of Linda Hall and the Linda Hall Library of Science and Technology in Kansas City.
      Plans now call for the Garden in time to display some 160 species of our best-loved sun and shade wildflowers, including the Showy Beard-Tongue at left, Butterfly Milkweed, Shining Blue Star, Blue False Indigo, Ashy Sunflower, Pale Purple Coneflower, and many, many others.

Now occupying a new park location, the Garden is maintained by the Southwest Missouri chapter of the Missouri Native Plant Society, which group has also adopted the  Native Shrubs Garden.
     We're most excited about the opportunity to learn to identify so many of our beautiful native plants and flowers. We'll be following the Garden's progress here. If you, too, love our Missouri wildflowers, be sure to check back from time to time.
     The Springfield Botanical Gardens are located at 2400 S. Scenic in Springfield.

The Wildflower Garden's New Location

The new Wildflower Garden in its new location, a spot providing both sun and shade for the widest possible collection of native plants.

The Work

Talk about devotion. It was 98 degrees on a late July afternoon when these four members of the Missouri Native Plant Society set to work in the Garden. From left are Ruby Ball, Marlyss Simmons, Max Brown, and Larry Wegmann, president of the Southwest Missouri chapter. 

Missouri Wildflowers -- the Book

We can't do any better for wildflower lovers than to recommend the latest edition of Edgar Denison's classic Missouri Wildflowers. Published by the Missouri Conservation Department, it lists wildflower entries by flower color and bloom time, along with detailed descriptions and 297 beautiful color photos, 200 of which are new. We think this the perfect book for anyone who loves wildflowers and wants to learn about them. It can be found at the Conservation Nature Center in Springfield, Missouri, and most bookstores.

The Beginning

The Wildflower Garden began as an Eagle Scout project carried out by young Eagle Scout Barrett Fisk and his Troop #1 with the help of botany professor and Friends of the Garden member Dr. Paul Redfearn. The first few photos here were taken in that first garden.

Showy Beard-Tongue
The plant pictured at the top of the page is one of our most beautiful perennial wildflowers, Showy Beard-Tongue (Penstemon cobaea purpureus). In May and June it sports gorgeous blossoms lilac-to-deep-purple with a white inner ring. Growing in sun or part shade it can reach 2 1/2 feet tall and a foot wide. It does best in well-drained soil on the dry side, but also will do well with average moisture. Another common name: Beardtongue.

Butterfly Milkweed
Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a striking perennial wildflower loved by butterflies and home gardeners. It likes dry to average soil and does well in sun or light shade, growing to 2 1/2 feet tall and as wide. The flowers may range in color from very pale orange to deep red-orange and are produced in abundance from May to September. Other common names include Butterfly Weed, Chigger Weed, and Pleurisy Root.

Wild Bergamot
Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is a perennial native plant in the mint family that in June and July produces a profusion of pleasantly scented lavender flowers. It prefers sun to light shade and average to rich soil. The plant can grow as tall as 5 feet with a 3 foot spread, making it ideal at the back of the garden. The flowers are wildly attractive to butterflies and bees, and it's said that a few fresh leaves brewed in a cup of boiling water makes a delicious, fragrant tea. Other common names: Beebalm, Wild Beebalm.

Gray-Headed Prairie Coneflower
grey-headed-prairie-coneflower.jpgGray-Headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) is a cheery perennial wildflower named for its gray seed head. In June in July it blooms profusely with bright yellow flowers with drooping petals. It does best in full sun but will grow in medium shade and can reach 4 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide. The seeds are loved by songbirds and when crushed have a sharp anise scent. The flowers attract butterflies. Other common names: Grayhead Prairie Coneflower, Grayhead Coneflower, Yellow Coneflower. Drooping Coneflower. Note: The plant most commonly called Yellow Coneflower is Echinacea paradox, shown below.

Yellow Coneflower

Yellow Coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa) in June produces bright yellow flowers with a bristly brown center and drooping "petticoat" petals. Perennial, it grows to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. It likes full sun and dry to average soil. Often seen growing in Ozarks glades, it also makes an excellent garden plant. Like all coneflowers, it's terrifically attractive to butterflies and birds.

Ohio Horsemint

Ohio Horse Mint is a perennial wildflower whose blue-purple blossoms appear May-August. It likes full sun to part shade and soil dry to medium moist. The plant grows to 2 1/2 feet tall with a 1 1/2 foot spread. Other common names include Downy Horse Mint, Downy Wood Mint, and Downy Pagoda Plant. The species name, contrary to the sign, is actually Blephilia ciliata.

Willow-Leaved Sunflower
willow-leaved-sunflower.jpgNo plant we know has more beautiful foliage than the Willow-Leaved Sunflower (Helianthus salicifolius). Superb in the garden, this native perennial can grow as tall as 6-8 feet. It thrives in full sun and well-drained, average soil. In September and October it produces clusters of very showy, bright yellow, brown-center flowers very attractive to butterflies. Songbirds love its seed. Another common name is Willow Leaf Sunflower.


Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis), found growing wild in many states,
in spring brightens our Missouri roadsides, prairies, and open woodlands. This perennial plant forms clumps that can reach 3 feet tall. The stems are rather weak but the slender foliage is quite attractive. The three-petaled flowers appear from late May into early fall and range in color from violet to blue to shades of purple.

Red Columbine

Our native Missouri columbine is the Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). A wildflower in many parts of the world, it grows in virtually any soil, preferring shade but also thriving in  full sun if given enough moisture. The plant is long-lived, reseeds freely, and seedlings often bloom the first year. Other common names include Wild Columbine, Wild Red Columbine, Eastern Red Columbine, and Canadian Columbine.

Pink Columbine

Our native Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) also has a pink form, sometimes called Pink Columbine or Wild Pink Columbine

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