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A Sunny Backyard in LaGrange Park, Illinois

Mary's entire backyard started off as a very weedy mess. When a place starts off very weedy it continues to be weedy for a long time into the future. This is because weed seeds are dispersed all over the place. Regular stewardship and care will eventually allow us to get things under control. Please note the mulch path leading to the emergency generator (visible), air conditioner and other utilities (hidden). The round stone ball in the path is part of some decorations.

The backyard looking to the south (right) shows some decorations and sculpting of the garden with short plants in the front and taller plants in the back.

Looking to the north (right-the corner of the house) we see the full and lush rain garden fed by a downspout.

I like to use the Ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius, whenever possible because it is so adaptable and usable in many places. It somewhat resembles a Bridal Wreath Spirea, with small beautiful clusters of pinkish-white flowers in June and exfoliating reddish-brown bark. It likes full to a half-day sun but I have put it in shady places were it works just fine.

The Ohio or Common Spikderwort, Tradescantia ohiensis, is referred to as an "Alley Onion" in Berwyn, Illinois. It likes average to dry soil and full to partial sun. The flowers last but a single day after which they disintegrate into a gooey mess and are placed by new flowers.

The Canada or Meadow Anemone, Anemone canadensis, is a great plant to use in a rain garden setting, if you don't mind something that will take over your yard in a few years. It is short, one foot, blooms early (May-June), likes full to partial sun and "SPREADS WELL".

Prairie Smoke, Geum triflorum, is one of the earliest prairie plants to bloom (April and May). It is short (under one foot) and has closed red flowers that a large Bumblebee somehow mysteriously pollinates. The seeds are carried in the wind by fine whispy pinkish filaments. When in bloom it is said that "the prairie is smoking".

A really fine looking plant is the Sweetshrub or Carolina Allspice, Calycanthus floridus. It is an open shrub, growing eight feet high and six feet wide. The dark purple flowers bloom in May and are very fragrant. Its leaves turn yellow in the Fall.

Another good plant to use in a rain garden is the Golden Alexander, Zizia aurea. It flowers early in the year (May to June), likes it kind of wet, gets about two to three feet tall and apreciates full to partial sun. It is an important food source for Swallowtail Butterflies.

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