I have two books I’ve put together based on my photography of native prairie plants. Each are available at lulu.com.Check out: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/breitberg IF YOU ARE A RETAILER OR LIBRARY you can order through Ingram Book distributors at www.ipage.ingrambook.com.
The Prairie State – Illinois has this nickname because of it’s beginnings. Before land was developed into cities, industries, and agriculture, Illinois was primarily prairie. Vast prairies, ranging from wet marsh to dry sand hill, swept the Illinois landscape. Prairies were the jungles of the Midwest. Inside was a vast assortment of plant and animal life, probably similar in quantity to rainforests. Native American Indians had abundant food and resources from the prairie. But settlers were unfamiliar with this wilderness and saw the prairie as something that needed to be controlled so it was relatively quickly eliminated as they set up homesteads. Finding the earth under the prairie rich with nutrients they established farmland to supply food for themselves and as an industry to supply the cities with needed food. Today, sadly, less than ten percent of native prairie remains in Illinois. Awareness of the prairie ecosystem and the riches that lay inside have been studied and has brought new appreciation for the prairie. Efforts have begun in places to restore some prairie land in this country. Whether it is reasonable or valid to try to return land to a state or condition two hundred years ago, before European settlers arrived, is up to the politicians and scientific experts. This book’s intention is merely to acquaint my readers with the beauty and uniqueness of the prairie.
Sustainable Gardening– Changes in climate and environmental awareness has led to an appreciation for sustainable gardens; ones that require less water and maintanence. Prairie plants are the easy answer for both. These species have long root systems (equal to their above ground height) which means in times of drought they are able to tap water well below the surface to sustain themself. No need for frequent watering. FYI, they also are fire resistant, the plant and prior years’ plant parts will burn but the root system stays safe deep underground waiting to show a rebirth just a week or so after a fire. Last year’s growth is natural mulch and filled with rich nutrients for this year’s growth (Don’t allow more than two year’s debris on ground or you are providing fuel for fire.) Prairie habitats range from dry sand hills to wetlands, so are suitable for just about anyone’s landsacpe situation that has fair amount of sun. Prairie plants range from a few inches in height to over eight feet tall. They are perennial so return year after year…. for free! They tend to be disease resistant and pest resistant; they are hardy plants saving time and money for gardeners.