Culver’s Root, Must Have Pollinator Plant

Culver’s root, Veronicastrum virginicum, is an impressive plant and quite stunning in full bloom. I have this flowering in my home pollinator habitat now and just love it! The flowers are white and resemble an elegant candelabra. It blooms from late June into August. It can reach heights of 3-6 feet tall and adds an amazing vertical element to the landscape. Culver’s root is native to Nebraska and prefers a moist site. It grows well in full sun to part shade. It is an herbaceous perennial that grows in a clump with a rhizome root system, but is not aggressive. Culver’s root has lance-shaped, whorled leaves that are dark green and attractive through the season.

Culver’s root is important to many native pollinators. This plant is visited by leafcutter bees, bumblebees, sweat bees, syrphid flies, red admiral butterflies and soldier beetles.

There are no serious insect or disease problems with Culver’s root. Long flower spikes provide a noticeable accent and impressive vertical height for landscape borders, rain gardens or pollinator habitats.

MJ Frogge

Culver's Root in LandscapeCulver's Root

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Nature’s Fireworks

Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, has an amazing flower. To me it looks like a bursting firework display.  This native shrub is blooming in my home habitat now.  It can grow in part shade and prefers moist soil. Perfect plant for a rain garden. Bees love this pollinator plant.

MJ Frogge

ButtonbushBumblebee on Buttonbush flower.

Not so easy… not so fast

Erosion - Building Runoff June 2013

BEFORE Erosion after recent rains – June 13, 2013
(photo by SC)

We hauled in soil, we packed in eroded areas, we created a berm…. and then it rained, and it rained and it rained some more. Now for those of us in Nebraska, this is something we aren’t used to in recent years. We’ve been in a very stubborn drought. Thankfully, in a few short weeks we’ve swam out of the drought – our ponds are full and fields are green! The only negative has been progress on our project.

The rain amplified some of the issues with erosion and runoff from the building. We called on Tom Franti to take a look at what we were facing before we moved forward. Tom is the Extension Surface Water Management Specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. When Tom visited our site, he determined very quickly that we would not be able to install a rain garden. The slope from the building to the creek was too steep and our berm would never be able to hold the water back with the amount of water coming off the building. The soil was also not conducive to a rain garden. Tom also told us he does not recommend putting a rain garden over any utilities. Our site is full of flagged utilities with the exception of just a few places. We have a tough situation.

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Runoff to rain garden

One of the features in our habitat plan is to include a rain garden and berm. This should help eliminate some of the runoff from the roof of our building. The runoff is causing some erosion problems and could carry pollutants to the small wetlands area on the northern edge of the habitat.

What’s a rain garden? A rain garden is a small area designed to temporarily hold and allow water to soak in to the soil. It isn’t a pond or wetlands. In fact, most of the time it is dry. Rain gardens can be both beautiful and functional.  A mix of perennial flowers, ornamental grasses and woody shrubs adapted to both wet and dry conditions can be used in a rain garden. We intend to use plants that will also benefit wildlife/pollinators.

About 4-5 years ago, rain gardens created quite a “buzz” around our community. I’ve got a couple spots around my own home where I should seriously consider a rain garden. Add that to my “to do” list!

Our local government has a resource page to help people create their own rain gardens. Check it out:

https://www.lincoln.ne.gov/city/pworks/watrshed/educate/garden/

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu