Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)

As the snow from yesterday continues to melt away on this 48 degree F day, visions of plants emerging and blooming this spring continue to occur!  I’m a big fan of prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) featured in this blog.  These are many of the photos I’ve taken of this very photogenic perennial over the years.  This North American native grows quickly to 15″ or so with flower stalks, each featuring three, nodding pink, bell-shaped blooms, emerging quickly in May.  Pollinated flowers (by bumblebees) then turn upwards and silky, flowing styles elongate to create a gauzy, wispy, pink impression; hence the common name of prairie smoke.  These feathery “seed tails” help with seed dispersal.  Also called old man’s whiskers and three-flowered avens, this perennial is hardy from zones 3-7, prefers full sun (will tolerate part shade) and prefers well drained soils.  It will not thrive in overly wet or soggy soils.  The deeply serrated and pubescent leaves are interesting and ultimately get decent fall color late in the season (see bottom photo).  Deer resistant and drought tolerant, this tough perennial is pure magic in bloom but the extended “plume” or “feather duster” look is exceptional (for about a month – well in to July).  Native Americans once prepared and boiled a root tea from this plant for medicinal purposes.  This tough perennial deserves a spot in your well drained, sunny garden for many reasons!

The snow on the ground didn’t dissuade our volunteers from coming in to help out today.  Our grounds staff consisted of Larry O., Larry H., Bobby K. and myself.  Larry O. helped the irrigation guys get our system going as did Bobby K.  Both guys had other projects they worked on when they weren’t helping with our significant irrigation challenges this spring.  Larry H. worked on pruning, hauling materials and mulching.  I continue to finish off orders for the spring and am coordinating our plant deliveries with many of them being delayed due to the weather.  Our volunteers included Jenny, Steve E., Marv, Ron R., Dick H., Dr. Gredler, Maury, Ron Y., Jim, Dave, Vern and a couple of others.  We also saw Polly, John J. and others.  It was a busy April day despite the snow but at least the sun was shining!

big patch of Geum triflorum at the Chicago Botanic Garden on Evening Island (Glencoe, IL)