Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes

From a post on Mastodon by Catherine, I was introduced to “Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes”. Catherine’s comments intrigued me such that I found the book to read.

I’m only part way into the first chapter but there is a lot to unpack! As I currently understand the message in the book, we can create resilient landscapes using both native and non-native species. That is, the landscapes do not have to be composed of exclusively native species of plants. I admit to leaning toward the former line of thinking but I have also allowed myself to believe that the only correct environment is one that contains only native plants.

The authors have stated that what matters is the density of plants in an environment and how self-sustaining the plant community is. By self-sustaining, they mean a community of plants that does not need continuous weeding, fertilizing, or watering. Density is a question of “is every niche occupied?”

Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is an introduced plant to North America. Many people consider it a nuisance weed. I’ve had a mixed relationship with it. I recognize that it is viewed as a weed by many people but I also recognize its value to bees because it is one of the first flowering plants in our yard. I’ve spent countless hours pulling creeping charlie from gardens in an endless effort to keep it under control.

After partially reading the first chapter in “Planting in a Post-Wild World:”, I now know I am approaching the situation from the wrong angle.

I don’t need to be concerned about creeping charlie because it is not a displacer in our yard. It doesn’t survive in the dense parts of the yard. There is no creeping charlie anywhere in our yard except in the turf grass areas and planted gardens residing in full sun. The native wildflowers, which grow thick and dense in the rest of the yard, crowd out the creeping charlie.

My new approach to creeping charlie will to let it grow in the turf grass while focusing on crowding it out in the sparsely planted gardens on the periphery of the turf grass lawn.

Monarch Butterflies and a Hummingbird

While photographing Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) on Easter Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), a Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) came by to feed.

A picture of two monarch butterflies on purple coneflowers
Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) on Eastern Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)
A picture of a monarch butterfly and hummingbird flying
A Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

Budding Maple Trees

Maples (Acer) are one of the earliest plants in Minnesota to bloom in the spring and, as a result, are an important source of food for pollinating insects.

Flower buds on a maple tree
Flower buds on a maple (Acer) tree.

Because the flowers are normally high up in the tree, we don’t see the flowers. On our evening walk, I was excited to see that our neighbor’s maple tree was in bloom at a level I could actually photograph.

A flower bud on a maple tree
A flower bud on a maple (Acer) tree.


It was with dismay that I discovered there was ragweed growing in our front lawn. None of the plants were particularly large but, unfortunately, some had begun to flower. Ragweed pollen is a primary cause of allergic rhinitis, AKA hay fever in late summer and fall for many Midwesterners. While I am not allergic to ragweed, Kat is and, therefore, I have a particular anathema for ragweed.

An image of ragweed growing in our front yard.
Ragweed growing in our front yard

There are three species of ragweed native to Minnesota. Ragweed can be found growing everywhere in the Twin Cities, including along the medians and shoulders of freeways and highways. Because of its widespread prevalence, there is no chance of eradicating it. I just do my small part by removing it from our yard whenever I discover it.

The following are photographs of Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) taken by Katy Chayka of Minnesota Wildflowers.

An image of common ragweed
Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia). Copyright 2007 k. chayka

An image of Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)
Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia). Copyright 2007 k. chayka

An image of common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)
Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia). Copyright 2007 k. chayka

A point I would like to clear up is that goldenrod does not cause hay fever. Goldenrod and ragweed are completely different species. Both are native to Minnesota, are widespread, bloom in late summer and fall, and grow near each other.

An image of goldenrod in our backyard
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) growing in our backyard.

Goldenrod pollen is spread via pollinating insects whereas ragweed is dispersed via the wind. One clue that indicates goldenrod relies on insects for pollination is that its flowers are bright yellow. Ragweed flowers, not needing pollinating insects, are hardly noticeable. As such, whereas there may not be much goldenrod pollen floating in the air, ragweed needs to release a lot of pollen into the air. It is all the ragweed pollen floating in the air that triggers allergic rhinitis in so many people.

An image of goldenrod
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) growing in our backyard.

While goldenrod can be a nuisance because it can crowd out other species, I much prefer the fields of goldenrod growing in our yard to the stands of ragweed along the highway.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)

Five years ago, we planted a small native wildflower garden in our back yard. Every year we add more native wild flowers. One of the first plants we planted was Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia). They have established themselves and are slowly spreading.

Picture of Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)

Picture of Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea angustifolia)

Picture of Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea angustifolia)

A frequent visitor to the coneflowers are Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus).

Picture of two monarch butterflies

Picture of a Monarch butterfly on a Purple Coneflower