Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring in our little prairie: what's flowering this week

Spring is coming slowly this year, and it is just a reminder of the importance of species diversity in our yard. Beginning with the sagebrush buttercup (Ranunculus glaberrimus) on March 14, we have plants that flower nearly all year.

Although it was snowing this afternoon, we have had flowers in bloom for over a month now, long before tulips will spring up in gardens. Spring is slowly arriving, but a few species are flowering and a lot more will be coming in the next weeks. Since only a hand full of species are in flower it is easy to keep tabs on them.

This first flowers are small (though structurally very diverse) but provide a sharp contrast to the otherwise dormant, winter-like appearance of Missoula. Above is the shooting star (Dodecatheon conjugens), and below is the pasque flower also known as the prairie crocus (Pulsatilla patens). The pasque flower will often flower in the snow.

The sagebrush buttercup (Ranunculus glaberrimus), the first to flower (below), and because of the cold and short days, it flowers for nearly a month. In the foreground of this picture (bottom, left) are leaves of the false dandelion (Agoseris glauca), the flower I picked for the Gardening Gone Wild photo contest.

Below is the yellow bell (Fritillaria pudica), a spring staple of the short grass prairie. Most these these early flowers typically have short lived blooms, and even their foliage may disappear soon. As a result they are great to accompany other plants, or hardscape features in the garden, as opposed to being a focal point, nor will the carry your garden. When they do appear, though often briefly, they are wonderful little surprises and reminders of the summer, full of flowers, to come.


  1. I love shooting stars. I don't think mine came back this year. Now I have to go check!

  2. Good Morning,
    I'm planning to write a piece for the Great Falls Tribune on creating a wildlife friendly landscape, and would love to interview you about your endeavors. Are you willing to chat in the next couple of weeks?
    Thanks much,
    Amy Grisak

  3. Hi Amy,
    I think we have met before, and I certainly know Grant.
    I'd love to talk with you about wildlife gardening.
    Give me a call next week, I look forward to talking to you.