In the Fall of 2021, museum staff attended a workshop on Creative Placemaking, which was the jumping off point for the Prairie Walk on Main Street. PTRM was awarded a grant to build a native plant bed in the Community Garden as a way to revive the popular Prairie Walk, which used to be on museum grounds. Staff got to work, enlisting local artist Paul Swanson to build the garden bed and get it placed on Main Street in the Spring of 2022. Plants were planted and continue to be maintained by museum staff throughout the summer season. In the Fall and Spring, seeds are planted in the hopes that new plants will grow the next year. Be sure to plan a stop to the Community Garden when you visit Bowman and check out the Prairie Walk on Main, as well as all the other wonderful Main Street businesses!
Below you’ll find information on each of the different plants in the garden.
Artists on Main Street in Bowman is a program in partnership between North Dakota Commerce, Bowman
County Development Corporation, Springboard for the Arts, and Rethos: Places Reimagined.
Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis): A genus of nearly 100 species of perennial herbaceous plants of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) native to Europe and North America. Several species of columbines and a number of hybrids are cultivated for their attractive flowers. Columbines are distinctive for their five-petaled flowers that have long backward-extending spurs as pouchlike extensions of the petals, which contain nectar. Sepals and petals are brightly colored. The leaflets of the compound leaves are usually rounded and notched. The wild columbine, or eastern red columbine, of North America grows in woods and on rocky ledges from southern Canada southward. It is 1 to 3 feet tall. The flowers are red with touches of yellow and are pollinated by hummingbirds.
New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae): Magnificent in bloom, New England Aster lights up the late season landscape with bunches of deep violet to lavender-pink flowers. Large and showy, this aster can grow up to six feet high. The flowers are an important source of nectar for late season pollinators, especially Monarchs as they stock up for their fall migration to Mexico. Bees and butterflies are frequent visitors to this amazing pollinator favorite, and larval host for the Pearl Crescent, the Gorgone Checkerspot butterfly and the Northern Flower moth. Other common names include Michaelmas Daisy.
Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillate): Whorled Milkweed has very skinny, “whorled” leaves. When Whorled Milkweed is mature it reaches a height around 2′. Whorled Milkweed can bloom anytime between July and September, which is later in the year than many other Milkweeds. There are clusters of approximately 20 flowers near the top of each plant. The white flowers can be a greenish-white on some plants. The nectar of the flowers attracts many kinds of insects, including long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers and beetles. Like all members of the Asclepias genus, Asclepias verticillata is a larval host plant for monarch butterflies.
Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea): The thimble shaped flowers of Purple Prairie Clover sit atop a spray of stems with delicate foliage. A pollinator favorite, Purple Prairie Clover is a host plant for Dogface Butterfly larvae and provides nectar to many species of butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects. One of the most widespread of the Prairie Clovers, Dalea purpurea is a standard component in prairie restorations, but it is uncommon in areas that have been disturbed by modern development. Legumes such as Prairie Clovers harbor beneficial bacteria called rhizobia. The plants are able to capture nitrogen from the air, and the bacteria assist in “fixing” it in the plant. The plants act as a natural soil fertilizer when the spent plant material is left to enrich the soil.
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum): Wild Geranium has lovely dissected leaves, beautiful pinkish-purple flowers, and it readily spreads, forming stunning patches that everything from bees to butterflies can’t resist. Mostly found in woodlands in the wild, it does just as well in full sun! Interestingly, Geranium maculatum has a unique way of spreading its seeds. Each seed is packed into a pod and the pods are attached to a structure that resembles a crane’s bill. As the bill dries, it literally catapults the seeds away from the parent plant. Each seed has a small tail-like structure attached to it that bends and moves in response to changes in humidity, which helps to drive the seed into the soil where it can safely germinate.
Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum): The unbranched stems of Culver’s-root grow 2-6 ft. tall and are topped by several spikes of densely-clustered, tiny, white flowers. The total effect is candelabra-like. Narrowly oval, dark-green leaves are arranged in whorls around the stem. The common name was to honour Dr. Culver who prescribed the plant as an effective laxative. Dense, narrow, cylindrical, spike-like clusters of small, white, tubular flowers are at the top of an erect stem over whorled leaves. The genus name, a combination of Veronica and the suffix astrum (“false”), describes this plant’s resemblance to the Veronicas. It is the only species in the genus. The root contains a powerful emetic and cathartic.
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum): Clump-forming, warm-season grass with open, lacy sprays with small seeds, Aug-Oct. Purple stigmas at flowering time. Switchgrass is a 3-6 ft., rhizomatous, loose sod former with a large, open, finely textured, reddish-purple seedhead. Fall color is pale yellow. Bright green leaves occur up and down the stem, turning bright yellow in fall. Switchgrass is a perennial. Grows in large clumps, with many persistent, curly leaves. Switchgrass is one of the dominant species of the tallgrass prairie, but also grows along roadsides where moisture is present. The rich, yellow-colored clumps last throughout the winter.
Lavender Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum): The bright purple flowers and textured foliage of Lavender Hyssop are popular in the sunny perennial garden, and in the herb garden as well. Lavender flower spikes up to 6″ long are produced in midsummer, and persist for up to 2 months. The crushed leaves have a fragrance of mint and licorice and can be used to make herbal teas, or dried for use in potpourri. The seeds can be used as an alternative to poppy seeds in baking. Also known as Giant Blue Hyssop or Anise Hyssop, this upright, clump-forming perennial of the mint family is typically found in dry upland forest edges and fields. The flower spikes are a pollinator favorite and offer a rich source of nectar to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Lavender Hyssop is also a host plant for the Spring Azure butterfly.
Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula): Sideoats Grama is a bunchy or sod-forming grass with 2-3 ft. stems in erect, wiry clumps. Purplish, oat-like spikelets uniformly line one side of the stem, bleaching to a tan color in the fall. The basal foliage often turns shades of purple and red in fall. This is a perennial warm season grass; clump forming. Two varieties are recognized: variety curtipendula is shorter and more rhizomatous and ranges from southern Canada to Argentina. Variety caespitosa spreads more by seed than by rhizomes, is more of a bunchgrass, and is restricted mostly to southwestern North America. Not only is Sideoats Grama the state grass of Texas, but this medium-tall grass mixes well in plantings with spring wildflowers, because it stays short in the spring. Birds love the ripe seeds. This plant increases rapidly in nature when its site is damaged by drought or grazing. Sideoats Grama is a larval host plant for several Skipper butterflies and moths.
Ox Eye Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides): A common, 3-5 ft. perennial with stiff, branched stems; sunflower-like heads; and opposite, toothed leaves. Resembling a small version of a yellow sunflower with a cone-shaped central disk and opposite, toothed, simple leaves. The yellow flower heads are 2 in. across and have raised, yellow centers. This plant looks like true sunflowers, which are in the genus Helianthus. Unlike sunflowers, its rays persist on the flower heads; the rays of sunflowers wither and fall away. It is placed in Heliopsis due to its cone-shaped central disk. Oxeye is hardy and easily grown as a showy garden perennial in dry sites and is a good choice for clay soil.
White Prairie Clover (Dalea candida): Often occuring in patches, these perennials bear at least 8-10 slender, 1-2 ft. stems and groups of short, narrow leaflets. Tiny, individual flowers cluster around a cylinder-like cone. Several branched stems with smooth, bright green leaves, and dense spikes of white, bilaterally symmetrical flowers. The bright, white flowers start as a ring around the base of the cone and work upward as the season advances. This species, and others with only five stamens and petals that are all rather similar, were once placed in the genus Petalostemon. White Dalea (D. albiflora), found from Arizona and southwestern New Mexico south to Mexico, resembles White Prairie Clover but has 10 stamens.
Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa): Bergamot is a well-known and highly adaptable native plant that thrives in all but the wettest soils. The fragrant lavender flowers are a popular nectar source for pollinators and attract a wide variety of bees and butterflies. Hummingbirds may also visit. A member of the mint family, Bergamot has long been used by indigenous people for a variety of medicinal applications. The distinctly aromatic leaves are commonly used to make tea, and the button seed heads are popular in dried floral arrangements.
Prairie Spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis): The erect, branching stems of this perennial are up to 2 ft. tall. Its leaves are long and narrow with a whitish bloom. Several flowers, in clusters at stem or branch ends, are subtended by bracts similar to the leaves. There are three blue-violet petals and six stamens with yellow anthers. Spiderwort flowers close by mid-day and last only one day. Western Spiderwort is a member of the family Commelinaceae, which includes herbs with more or less swollen nodes, and flowers arranged in clusters enveloped in boat-shaped bracts. Named after John Tradescant (1608-1662) who served as gardener to Charles 1 of England. Tradescantia species will hybridize in just about any combination.