Early Bloomers Monarch City: An Urban Prairie Garden

If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for a moment. -Georgia O'Keeffe

The following blooming plants reside in the urban prairie garden known as Monarch City in the Frogtown neighborhood in Saint Paul, MN. Monarch City is a project created by volunteers at Frogtown Green, a Saint Paul, Minnesota-based group dedicated to greening the Frogtown neighborhood. Pollinator-friendly plantings are maintained by volunteers at Monarch City, on the west end and the north side of the West Minnehaha Recreation Center, 685 Minnehaha Avenue in Saint Paul, MN. Learn more about the history of "West Minne" here.

Ozark Bluestar (Amsonia illustris)

Also known as Shining Bluestar, this early bloomer is considered a shrub-like form. Its blooms are pale periwinkle blue and star shaped. Late spring and early summer finds the cluster of attractive blossoms branching out in an attractive orb shape.

Ozark Bluestar (Amsonia illustris)
Blue wild inddigo (Baptisia australis)

Blue wild indigo (Baptisia australis) is a strikingly beautiful perennial that grows at Monarch City. The plant is hardy, and its robust stems hold blue-purple, pea-like blossoms that bloom May-July.

According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center provided the following information about Blue Wild Indigo: "Amerindians used root tea as emetic and purgative; cold tea given to stop vomiting. Root poulticed as an anti-inflammatory. Held in mouth to treat toothaches. Toxic." Link 

Prairie Ninebark, or sometimes referred to as Common Ninebark, provides a galaxy of milky-white flowers loved by pollinators and passersby alike. A single flower contains both male and female parts. 

A yellow center sits at the center of the flower. Bees, wasps and other pollinators hungrily search the flower clusters in and around the thick core of flowers prized by native plant lovers.

Monarch City hosts several of this accent shrubs. Prairie Ninebark remains one of this garden's perennial favorites.

Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is an erect perennial that stands 2 ft. tall. Its showy red and yellow flowers nod gently pairs or threesomes. The attractive bell-like flowers attract long-tongued insects and hummingbirds.

Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea)

Covered with brilliant golden, three to four inch-wide umbels that bloom for several weeks in late spring, Golden Alexanders is a wildflower like no other. The striking star-like flower clusters really pop in the prairie garden, and the plant is a possible host of the Black Swallowtail butterfly.

Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea)
Created By
Renoir Gaither


Photos by Renoir Gaither