Yours to Discover: Jack Darling Prairie Wildflower Garden

The prairie wildflower garden at Jack Darling Memorial Park was designed to delight and inspire urban residents to explore the beauty of native plants and to consider adding them to their yards.

Planted in 2013 by CVC in partnership with the City of Mississauga, the 1,500 square foot prairie wildflower garden showcases more than thirty different sun-loving pollinator-friendly native plant species. The garden is inspired by natural tallgrass prairie ecosystems and highlights the beauty native grasses and wildflowers can add to a garden using intentional groupings, planned paths and educational signage.

Tallgrass prairie is a vibrant and distinct ecosystem that once extended across much of Southern Ontario. Today, few Ontario tallgrass prairies still exist. Estimates suggest less than one per cent of Ontario’s prairies remain.

Prairie wildflowers and grasses grow in nutrient-poor, dry, sandy soils in full to part sun. These plants support wild pollinators, like bumble bees, butterflies, moths and syrphid flies, as well as managed pollinators, like honey bees.

The prairie wildflower garden at Jack Darling is maintained to support pollinators year-round. Many plants are intentionally left standing throughout the winter to provide habitat. Others are cut back to ensure the gardens maintain a neat and tidy look. In the spring, some of the stems are scattered through the garden to allow over-wintering pollinators to emerge from hollow or pithy stems.

Visit in the summer and be enchanted by the variety of butterflies, bees and moths at work. Clearwing Hummingbird Moths, often mistaken for hummingbirds, have been spotted enjoying the Wild Bergamot blooms. You may also see Monarchs, Clouded Sulphurs, Black Swallowtail, and Red Admiral butterflies, as well as many Eastern Common Bumblebees, solitary bees and syrphid flies.

Pollinators are responsible for propagating most of the flowering plants on earth, including one third of our food crops. Recent declines in pollinator populations due to climate change, habitat loss and pesticide exposure makes planting pollinator-friendly native plants one of the easiest and most important environmental actions landowners can take on their property.

Feeling inspired? CVC offers resources and support to urban homeowners in the Credit River Watershed interested in planting native plants and managing stormwater on their properties. Use CVC’s native plant lists to help you get started creating your pollinator garden, or visit cvc.ca/landscaping to learn more about environmentally-friendly landscaping practices.

Stay engaged. Sign up to our monthly e-newsletter The Garden Post. www.cvc.ca/gardenpost

Note: Due to COVID-19, the garden has not yet been maintained. We look forward to getting back in the garden as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Watch for these wildflowers in the garden – or plant them in your own yard.

Wild Bergamot

Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa

Wild Bergamot blooms a soft mauve in July and attracts many pollinators, including butterflies. Due to its height, plant it toward the back of the garden or against a building or fence. Will also grow in clay soils.

Butterfly Milkweed

Butterfly MilkweedAsclepias tuberosa

The bright orange of Butterfly Milkweed shouts, “Summer!” to both passers-by and to Monarch butterflies that use it as a host plant. Plant it in front of Wild Bergamot or beside Wild Lupines for stunning contrasting colours. Will also grow in most clay soils.

Wild LupineWild LupineLupinus perennis

The unmistakeable purple spikes of Wild Lupines emerge in late May and last until July. A striking prairie wildflower, Wild Lupine improves the soil and stands out beautifully next to Butterfly Milkweed or in front of grasses such as Prairie Cord Grass. Plant in sandy soils.

Black Eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta

Black-eyed Susans are easy to grow and provide brilliant yellow colour from mid-July until September. Plant several in a mass against a house, or along a driveway, walkway or entrance. Will also grow in clay soils.

New England Aster with Monarch Butterfly

New England Aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Asters are late season bloomers that never look tired. Blooming in August to September, New England Aster looks amazing with contrasting Black-eyed Susans, or placed in front of Wild Bergamot to begin blooming just after the Bergamot finishes. Will also grow in clay soils.

Interested in these plants? Print this page and take it with you to the nursery.

While you are at Jack Darling Memorial Park, wander up to the north-east corner of the park for a look at the tallgrass prairie covering the landscape. After discovering several prairie plants growing naturally in the park, the City of Mississauga planted this area to mimic a tallgrass prairie landscape. It is maintained as a natural area within the park and provides inspiration for the Prairie Wildflower Garden.

Jack Darling Memorial Park is located in south Mississauga between Lakeshore Rd. W. and Lake Ontario. (map)

The Prairie Wildflower Garden is a joint project between Credit Valley Conservation and The City of Mississauga.
Additional funding for this project was generously supplied by the David Suzuki Foundation.

CVC Logo              City of Mississauga Logo            David Suzuki Foundation

For more information contact us at greencities@cvc.ca.

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