Wild Ones Visits a Suburban Prairie

A pleasing mix of native prairie grasses and forbs dominate Rick's backyard.

A pleasing mix of native prairie grasses and forbs dominate Rick’s backyard.

Lakewood resident Rick Brune hosted a tour of his backyard short-grass prairie on Wednesday evening, August 13th. Despite the drizzle, 10 people enjoyed a walk through the prairie where the Liatris punctata, Ratibida columnifera, Asclepias pumila, Polanisia dodecandra, Cleome serrulata and many other natives of the plains were blooming. Rick’s backyard is about one-third of an acre and although he has access to ditch water, he does not use it to water the prairie.

We all thought the Liatris punctata and Artemisia frigida made a striking combination.

We all thought the Liatris punctata and Artemisia frigida made a striking combination.

Rick says he began seeding his yard with native grasses and forbs in sections, starting in 1985. He still likes to add new plants here and there and recently spent way too much time and effort eliminating Thermopsis rhombifolia, which had become too aggressive. Never one to just sit an admire his work, Rick is now creating a Midwestern tall-grass prairie in the lowest part of his yard. He says he doesn’t think he’ll need to add supplemental water to this section either, once it’s established.

Rick is a fount of information on how to establish a prairie ecosystem. In fact, he authored articles on how to create a prairie garden for the Colorado Native Plant Society. You can purchase “The Prairie Garden, A step-by-step guide to creating a short-grass prairie garden” from the CoNPS bookstore for $6 plus shipping and tax.

The drizzle didn't stop us from enjoying Rick's (far right) tour.

The drizzle didn’t stop us from enjoying Rick’s (far right) tour.

We have four more yards to visit this summer. Three yards are featured in a tour in Littleton on Saturday, August 23rd, and then we’ll visit another yard in Boulder for our annual Seed Swap. Please see the events page for details.

Note: Rick actively collects seed from his yard and sells it to native plant seed companies. But he was kind enough to donate some seed for our seed swap, too!

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