I know it’s time to go crappie fishing when the dogwoods start to bloom. I know it’s time for allergy relief gear when my white oak tree leafs out fully (and our cars are covered in a blanket of pollen). I know its spring in Northwest Arkansas when I see the streets and roads lined with the yellows of daffodils and purples of iris, and I absolutely love to find Mayapples and see the fresh fronds of ferns in the forest! Plants give us the timeline of the season, they are usually punctual, and really give us a sense of place. A spring in the Ozarks is much different as it is unique to our area, and we have our natural surroundings to thank for that!
When we have common plants in our landscapes, we start to lose the value that native plants can offer, such as providing those rhythmic blooms and shows of our local color palette. Native plants can offer much in terms of providing ecosystem services such as cleaning and filtering stormwater, providing food and forage for our emerging wildlife after winter’s retreat, and require little care once established, as they are conditioned for our region and climate. Being good stewards of our natural heritage is important for our future generations and can be as simple as selecting and planting more of our native species of vegetation.
There are some great Spring-blooming native plants that may be uncommon to your yard, but are growing all through the Illinois River Watershed. Most of these plants are available at locally-owned and operated plant nurseries and you may also see them offered at farmer’s markets. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your nursery to carry them! Most nurseries are happy to fill a plant order request, especially if the request happens often for a particular plant.
Columbine is deer-resistant and highly tolerant of most soil conditions. Wild Hyacinth is attractive to a number of birds and nectar-seeking insects. Wild Blue Phlox, only grows to about 12” and can handle wet soils, great for rain gardens!
Spring is a beautiful time here in the Ozarks and we know the saying, “in like a lion…out like a lamb.” We have a lot of rain this time of year and these are wonderful plants to withstand the elements and help mitigate stormwater runoff, which protects our watershed. Plant more of these native plants in your garden and it will not only be bursting with spring color, you will be happy you did!
Blue Wild Indigo sends out a blue flare in mid-Spring, American Beautyberry produces tiny lilac flowers and then produces deep purple berries in the summer. A Serviceberry can be a large shrub or small tree, growing to 25’ in height. White blooms appear in May.
Jack in the Pulpit nhgardensolutions.wordpress.com
Lady Fern www.northcreeknurseries.com
Solomons Seal www.manataka.org
Wild Hyacinth www.illinoiswildflowers.info
Wild Blue Phlox www.florafinder.com
Blue Wild Indigo easywildflowers.com