Blooming from top to bottom, each spike won't last but a few days in high summer. Bees will come in droves of varying sizes and colors, some so small you can only hear them. A stand of purple prairie clover is subtle until the right light hits it -- usually morning or evening, sleep heavy across the landscape.
It's the perfect garden height at around two feet -- not so tall as to overwhelm, not so short as to underwhelm. In masses purple clover is like a transition from full season groundcovers to showier blooms that flaunt their dalliance with pollinators and garden visitors. It is a shadow which gives definition to other perennials.
"To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee" wrote Emily Dickinson. And with its penchant to add nitrogen to the soil, purple clover helps the plants around it -- creating a more hospitable environment. It gives and it takes in equal measure.
Dalea purpurea. DAY-lee-uh prr-PUR-ee-uh. It echoes across the prairie, an ocean in an ocean of grass anchoring the world into this place.
It even does well in the desert, wit minimal irrigaton. Too bad it was value(less)-engineered out of a project by one of my worst architect clients ever, where I had used drifts of it...yes, for fescue lawn.
Oh, good grief! Drifts of it are spectacular.
Rabbits love to eat it as well, so I put cages around mine. They are one of my favorite blooms.
I was afraid mine had drowned over the winter, but it finally appeared a few weeks ago...even if it's just one stem, I'm not complaining. I'm thinking of adding more this autumn to fill in a few gaps...love it!
I was delighted when I found this a native plant sale! I wanted it in my garden for so long, I was thrilled.
I bought a few plants to see how they would do & overwinter in my suburban Chicago garden, zone 5.
The plants are only about 1 foot tall. The purple has beautiful orange flecks, it's so beautiful, it's indescribable! I had no idea the roots can reach 7 feet!
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