Native Wildflower Garden behind Ostermeier House
An idea generated by University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist and Master Gardener volunteers in the Spring of 2012 has grown into a flourishing native wildflower demonstration garden at Lincoln Memorial Garden.
By the summer of 2013, the 64’x34’ garden plot in the Ostermeier Prairie Center began showing off its sun-loving natives. This flower and small grass-filled garden provides ideas and inspiration about how area gardeners can use and enjoy native prairie plants in their own home settings.
The garden bed is designed to feature various plant heights and widths, bloom times and colors. Through the spring, summer and fall, visitors can see flowers that bloom in yellows, purples, reds, pinks, whites and grays. These native flowers are set off by short native grasses.
A variety of different sun-loving native plants is labeled for easy identification. In addition, the U of I Extension has produced a brochure (link to brochure) giving basic information about the wildflower garden. In the summer of 2023, QR codes will be added for visitors to reference.
Native prairie wildflowers offer a practical solution to diminishing environmental resources. They love heat. They grow in poor soil. They don’t need fertilizers; and, after the first year, they need little water.
Many of these plants host a variety of bees and butterflies, including the monarch butterfly, the state’s official insect. Among the other beneficial insects they attract are lady bugs, which feed on pests, such as aphids. Several species of birds feast on the wildflower seeds, including the goldfinch, which feeds coneflower thistle to nestlings in late summer.
A brief description of each of the plants featured in this garden can be found here (pdf link). For more comprehensive descriptions, including photos of seedlings and flowerheads, visit the LMG Nature Center and ask to see the notebook compiled by University of Illinois Master Naturalists giving extensive information on each plant.
And remember, these are but a few of the many native sun-loving prairie wildflowers that could be incorporated into a separate wildflower garden or nestled among other groupings of plants (e.g. flowers, grasses, vegetables, bushes).
This garden does not include any of the hundreds of shade-loving wildflowers (e.g. bluebells, jack-in-the-pulpit, etc.) thriving along the paths of Lincoln Memorial Garden and across our state.
For further information on wildflower gardening, contact:
University of Illinois Extension