You are an Awfully Pretty Drainage Ditch

“You are beautiful!” We see that so many places, stickers on walls, buildings, posts, signs, etc. It is plastered many places, but you can’t plaster that on natural areas. I have driven and biked by this drainage ditch since we moved to the area this past Winter. Little did I expect the beauty that arrived in the past few weeks! The rudbeckia, spiderwort, butterfly weed, purple clover, and iris are a beautiful collage of native bliss. Someone put some great thought and care into this ditch. I, for one, am very grateful.

What a perfect example of how to incorporate natives into a setting. This spot holds run off from rains. The iris, that bloomed late spring/early summer, in the middle loves wet feet, and the plantings around the perimeter can let their roots reach down into the moist soil below and be taken care of for the entire season. There is little open space to allow the soil to dry out. There is no need to dig and disturb. There are pollinators fluttering and buzzing about. Little maintenance is required to make such beauty. It is all about the right plant in the right place.

Blue flag iris loves wet soil and provides protection for amphibians and snakes. Not that you want to think about these guys, but they are important to a healthy ecosystem. The sword like, upright foliage is a wonderful backdrop to all the mid summer blooms.

Spiderwort likes moist to dry spots in full to partial sun. Individual, purple flowers open in the morning for just the day. A favorite of larger bees.

Rudbeckia, purple prairie clover, and butterfly weed all love drier full sun. The mix of these three creates a powerful display of color.

The USDA , Natural Resources Conservation Service Illinois, offers up a complete list of natives to use in stormwater retention areas, streams, and ponds. They also have list for other microclimates worth a bit of your time. Now is the time to introduce natives into your space.

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