Centennial Prairie Garden

The Wilmette Park District is developing a Native Illinois Prairie garden within the detention area located at the north end of Centennial Park. Seed plantings began in the fall of 2010. The project is expected to take a few years to become  established. When complete it will attract numerous birds, butterflies and other wildlife.

Click here to download a PDF rendering of  the 2010 garden site plan which is shown to the right.

Phase One: Native upland prairie flowers and grasses surrounding part of the detention basin were planted in June of 2010, by Wilmette Boy Scout Troop 2. In November the one acre detention basin was planted with wetland prairie seeds. (Planning and design by Charlotte Adelman and 3D Design Studio).

Photo taken by Joe Bruner, Boy Scout Troop 2, in September 2010 of a portion of the upland prairie flowers and grasses planted in June 2010. Visitors observed goldfinches, native sparrows, bees and a variety of skippers and butterflies that were attracted to the upland prairie's Purple Coneflowers, Orange Coneflowers, New England Asters and Blue Vervains. Although not shown in this picture, the prairie's abundance of several colorful and fragrant species of native milkweeds attracted numerous female egg-laying monarch butterflies which produced monarch butterfly caterpillars.

Phase Two: Additional native upland prarie flowers and grasses were planted by Wilmette Boy Scout Troop 2 in June 2011 to create a 15-foot wide border surrounding the entire detention basin. (Planning and design by Charlotte Adelman and Joe Bruner).


Listed below are the seeds planted in the (wetland) detention basin.

Forbs/Flowers

  • Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag);
  • Alisma subcordatum (Mud Plantain);
  • Allium cernuum (Nodding Onion);
  • Anemone canadensis (Canada Anemone);
  • Angelica atropurpurea (Angelica);
  • Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed);
  • Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster);
  • Aster umbellatus (Flat-Topped Aster);
  • Baptisia alba (White Wild Indigo);
  • Boltonia asteroides (False Aster);
  • Cacalia suaveolens (Sweet Indian Plantain);
  • Cassia hebecarpa (Wild Senna);
  • Chelone glabra (Turtlehead);
  • Dodecatheon amethystinum (Amethyst Shooting Star);
  • Dodecatheon meadia (Midland Shooting Star);
  • Eupatorium maculatum (Joe Pye Weed);
  • Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset);
  • Filipendula rubra (Queen of the Prairie);
  • Gentiana andrewsii (Bottle Gentian);
  • Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed);
  • Heliopsis helianthoides (Early Sunflower);
  • Hibiscus militaris (Rose Mallow);
  • Hypericum pyramidatum (Great St. John's Wort);
  • Iris virginica shrevei (Southern Blue Flag);
  • Liatris ligulistylis (Meadow Blazing Star);
  • Liatris pycnostachya (Prairie Blazing Star);
  • Liatris spicata (Marsh Blazing Star);
  • Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower);
  • Lobelia siphilitica (Great Blue Lobelia);
  • Lycopus americanus (Water Horehound);
  • Lysimachia quadriflora (Prairie Loosestrife);
  • Mimulus ringens (Monkey Flower);
  • Pedicularis lanceolata (Marsh Betony);
  • Phlox glaberrima interior (Marsh Phlox);
  • Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant);
  • Pycnanthemum virginianum (Mountain Mint);
  • Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan);
  • Rudbeckia subtomentosa (Sweet Black-eyed Susan);
  • Rudbeckia triloba (Brown-eyed Susan);
  • Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant);
  • Silphium perfoliatum (Cup Plant);
  • Silphium terebinthinaceum (Prairie Dock);
  • Solidago ohioensis (Ohio Goldenrod);
  • Solidago riddellii (Riddell's Goldenrod);
  • Thalictrum dasycarpum (Purple Meadow Rue);
  • Verbena hastata (Blue Vervain);
  • Vernonia fasciculata (Common Ironweed);
  • Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver's Root);
  • Zizia aurea (Golden Alexanders).

Grasses/Sedges/Rushes

  • Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem);
  • Bromus ciliatus (Fringed Brome);
  • Calamagrostis canadensis (Blue Joint Grass);
  • Carex bebbii (Bebb's Oval Sedge);
  • Carex comosa (Bristly Sedge);
  • Carex hystericina (Porcupine Sedge);
  • Carex lupulina (Common Hop Sedge);
  • Carex stipata (Common Fox Sedge);
  • Carex vulpinoidea (Brown Fox Sedge);
  • Elymus canadensis (Canada Wild Rye);
  • Elymus virginicus (Virginia Wild Rye);
  • Glyceria grandis (Reed Manna Grass);
  • Juncus canadensis (Canada Rush);
  • Juncus interior (Inland Rush);
  • Juncus interior (Inland Rush);
  • Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass);
  • Scirpus atrovirens (Dark-green Bulrush);
  • Scirpus cyperinus (Wool Grass);
  • Scirpus validus (Great Bulrush);
  • Sorghastrum nutans (Indian Grass);
  • Spartina pectinata (Cord Grass).

Listed below are the plants (native prairie grasses and flowers) planted and scheduled to be planted in the upland areas surrounding the detention basin.

  • Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop);
  • Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem) - Host plant for Common Wood Nymph, Arogos Skipper and Cobweb Skipper Butterflies;
  • Andropogon scoparius (Little Bluestem)  - Host plant for Common Wood Nymph, Cobweb Skipper, Crossline Skipper and Swarthy Skipper Butterflies;
  • Apocynum cannabinum (Dogbane/Indian Hemp) – Called the Number One Butterfly Attracting Flower;
  • Asclepias purpurascens (Purple Milkweed) - Host plant for Monarch Butterflies (Female monarch butterflies only reproduce on Milkweed species);
  • Asclepias sullivantii (Sullivant's Milkweed) - Host plant for Monarch Butterflies;
  • Asclepias tuberose (Orange Butterfly Milkweed) - Host plant for Monarch Butterflies;
  • Asclepias verticillata (White Milkweed) - Host plant for Monarch Butterflies;
  • Aster azureus (Sky Blue Aster) - Host plant for Pearl Crescent Butterflies;
  • Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster) - Host plant for Pearl Crescent Butterflies;
  • Baptisia australis (Blue Wild Indigo) - Host plant for Wild Indigo Duskywing, Silvery Blue, Frosted Elfin, Hoary Edge, Orange Sulphur and Eastern Tailed-Blue butterflies;
  • Batisia alba (White Wild Indigo) - Host plant for Wild Indigo Duskywing, Silvery Blue, Frosted Elfin, Hoary Edge,Orange Sulphur and Eastern Tailed-Blue butterflies;
  • Campanulastrum americanum (American Bellflower) – Attracts a tiny oligolectic (specialist) bee, Megachile campanulae campanulae;
  • Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats, River Oats) – Host plant for Pepper & Salt Skipper, Bells Roadside Skipper and Bronzed Roadside Skipper butterflies;
  • Cirsium discolor (Field Thistle) - Host plant for American Lady Butterflies;
  • Coreopsis palmata (Prairie Coreopsis);
  • Dalea purpurea (Purple Prairie Clover) - Host plant for Southern Dogface Butterflies;
  • Echinacea pallida (Pale Purple Coneflower);
  • Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower);
  • Eryngium yuccifolium (Rattlesnake Master) - Host plant for Black Swallowtail and Anise Swallowtail Butterflies;
  • Eupatorium Purpureum (Joe Pye Weed) - Host plant for Painted Lady Butterflies;
  • Euphorbia corollata (Flowering Spurge);
  • Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium);
  • Heliopsis helianthoiodes (Early Sunflower) - Host plant for Gorgone checkerspot and American Painted Lady Butterflies;
  • Heracleum maximum (Common Cowparsnip) - Host plant for Black Swallowtail and Anise Swallowtail Butterflies;
  • Impatiens capensis (Orange Jewelweed) – A magnet for hummingbirds;
  • Liatris ligulistylis (Meadow Blazing Star) - Host plant for Painted Lady Butterflies & a magnet for monarch butterflies;
  • Monarda bradburiana (Bradbury's Monarda);
  • Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot);
  • Oligoneuron ohioense (Ohio Goldenrod);
  • Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass) - Host plant for Dotted Skipper and Tawny Edged Skipper Butterflies;
  • Parthenium Integrifolium (Wild Quinine);
  • Penstemon grandiflorus (Large-Flowered Beardtongue);
  • Ratibida pinnata (Yellow Coneflower);
  • Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower);
  • Rudbeckia subtomentosa (Sweet Black-eyed Susan) - Host plant for Silvery Checkerspot Butterflies;
  • Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia) - Host plant for Common Buckeye Butterflies;
  • Silene regia (Royal Catchfly – attracts hummingbirds;
  • Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant);
  • Silphium perfoliatum (Cup Plant);
  • Silphium terebinthinaceum (Prairie Dock);
  • Solidago speciosa (Showy Goldenrod);
  • Sorghastrum nutans (Indian Grass) - Host plant for Skipper butterflies;
  • Sporobolus heterolepis (Northern Dropseed);
  • Three Quercus bicolor (Swamp White Oak) - Native Oaks are Host plant for Edwards’ Hairstreak and other Hairstreaks and Juvenal's Duskywing butterflies;
  • Tradescantia (Spiderwort) - Host plant for Buckeye butterflies;
  • Verbena hastata (Blue Vervain) - Host plant for Buckeye Butterflies;
  • Vernoia fasciculata (Common Ironweed) - Host plant for Mourning Cloak and American Lady butterflies;
  • Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver's Root);
  • Zizia aurea (Golden Alexanders) - Host plant for Black Swallowtail and Anise Swallowtail butterflies.

Also harvested from the site in the blue protection covers are Swamp White Oaks that will be transplanted at a future date. 

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