The Prescott Journal - August 13, 2003
By Astrid Strader, Project Supervisor, Horticulturist, and Garden Designer
There’s a tie between two people who guessed the name of the wild flower depicted in our Prescott Blossoms logo. Amy Whitehorne from Prescott and Bradley Markell, new to Prescott from Iroquois, guessed the flower to be the milkweed. They each win a wonderful shade perennial called butterbur (Petasites japonica). Each spring, it sends up golden-green shoots with vanilla scented button-like flowers in clusters. Then, before you know it, the dark green leaves appear, growing to 3 feet across, in the shape of an elephant ear – very exotic for around a pond or in a dark corner.
Our logo, specifically, is the showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), which differs from the silky and green milkweed. It’s flower colour is more a soft rose to purple than the other two types (which are paler). As well, the leaves have a heart shaped base.
This perennial attracts monarch butterflies. In fact, it’s the sole food source for monarch caterpillars. You’d think that makes them easy prey to other creatures but nature is so intelligent. This plant is poisonous to all but the monarch and so, birds leave the monarch caterpillars alone. It likes full sun, the grey foliage is a restful colour in a busy landscape and best of all, to me, is the heavenly scent that fills the air from the flowers.
If we follow nature’s example, we can learn a lot. Not cutting too much down in the fall, leaving the stems and seed pods on your plants all winter, will provide much needed food and nesting material for birds in the spring, like Baltimore orioles which will use the milkweed’s silky seed for nest building.
One of our team members, Lori Harper, will be training with Prescott Tourism staff and volunteers. The goal is to set up a database from survey’s taken, of visitors to the area, to assist with planning and development of a more permanent position of tourism coordinator. We really have to thank Jane McGuire from Prescott’s Public Library, who gives space, computer and internet access along with other valuable resources for all of our projects, including this one. “Often tourists from cruise ships come to the library – so we see ourselves as serving much more than just our residents”, explains Ms. McGuire.
If your friends and neighbors tell you how lovely your front yard or planter box is, then, why not enter the Prescott Community in Bloom competition? Deadline to enter is August 19. Winners of best front yard, business frontage and containers will be announced August 27. Call the municipal office at 925-2812 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.