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Anyone who has tried starting a garden in Alberta knows that our climate can make it a unique challenge and gardening tips that work in other parts of Canada don’t always cut it here. That’s why this June, we’re sharing one plant description every Friday from Alberta gardening books and plant guides. Today’s Flora Fridays feature comes from Native Plants for the Short Season Yard: Best Picks for the Chinook and Canadian Prairie Zones by Lyndon Penner.
In this book, Penner—a well-known Calgary-based gardening expert and landscape designer—gives us the definitive guide to gardening with native plants in the prairies. Gardening with native plants has lots of advantages, not only for your yard, but also for the ecosystem. This book is perfect for anyone looking to plant a beautiful, low-maintenance yard that preserves biodiversity and withstands the harsh Alberta climate.
Dalea spp. (PRAIRIE CLOVER)
Prairie clover flowers are rich in nectar and draw bees and butterflies in great numbers. If you are looking for a plant that will attract pollinators, look no further!
Previously classified as Petalostemon, these plants are not true clovers although they are in the same family. Dalea purpureum is a gorgeous little prairie plant with very fine leaves that reaches a height of 6–24″. The brilliant pink to magenta flowers are arranged around a central cone and usually open at the base first, creating the impression of a thimble surrounded by a band of pink.
This is a great native plant for gardens because it is reasonably quick to establish, quite easy from seed, and very drought-resistant once established. It also flowers over a very long period (July through September), and it will self-seed pleasantly. I would definitely recommend it.
There are also two white-flowered species (Dalea candidum and Dalea oligophyllum), but they are less common and certainly less showy in the garden.
I have come upon purple prairie clover in Grasslands National Park growing with blue flax and native grasses, and the effect was tremendously beautiful. This is an easy pairing to recreate in a garden and one that I would recommend.
From Native Plants for the Short Season Yard: Best Picks for the Chinook and Canadian Prairie Zones by Lyndon Penner (Brush Education Inc 2016). Image and excerpt provided courtesy of the publisher.
At the end of June, we are giving away a prize pack containing the gardening and plant guides from our Flora Fridays series including Native Plants for the Short Season Yard by Lyndon Penner. Sign up for our newsletter to win! If you’re already signed up, you’re already entered! This giveaway is open to Canadian residents.