Where Butterflies and Books Hang Out

Outside of the Southern Boone County Public Library, butterflies flutter in and out of the flowers now in full bloom in the library’s native garden that surrounds the building. The abundance and type of plantings in the garden entitled it to become a registered Monarch Waystation through Monarch Watch, and it recently was registered as a part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.

“People just love this garden. It’s constantly changing as different plants bloom, so people like to explore what’s there when they visit the library,” said Ronda Mitchell, Southern Boone County Public Library manager.

Ashland Library

After the building was completed in 2012, a pair of experienced native plant enthusiasts made a gift to the library of landscaping plans, plants and labor so the library could get started on the project. After the initial planting, another local resident, Bill Ruppert, who owns and manages the St. Louis office of National Nursery Products specializing in perennials and native plants, volunteered to further enhance the garden area and suggested additional plants. The Friends of the Southern Boone County Library kicked in funds to purchase more landscape materials.

As of this year, 26 different native plants make up the plantings, including four species of milkweed and some larger woody plants. “It was important to us to make this area an outdoor classroom where people can see how beautiful a native garden is and also to serve as a demonstration of how we can help save our native pollinators like bees and butterflies by providing them with nontoxic food sources,” said Mitchell.

If you find yourself traveling on Highway 63 between Columbia and Jefferson City this summer, take a moment to stop in at Ashland to enjoy the beauty and wonder of this native garden. Follow Broadway until it intersects Main Street, then turn right and the library is on your left.

A Selection of Native Plants You’ll See at the Library

Forbs for monarch butterflies*

  • Butterfly milkweed
    Asclepias tuberosa
  • Marsh milkweed
    Asclepias incarnata
  • Purple milkweed
    Asclepias purpurascens
  • Spider milkweed
    Asclepias viridis

Other notable native forbs*

  • Prairie dock
    Silphium terebinthinaceum
  • Shining blue star
    Amsonia illustris

Natives for wet landscapes

  • Copper iris
    Iris fulva
  • Rose mallow
    Hibiscus lasiocarpos

Nectar plants for butterflies
and native pollinators

  • Aromatic aster
    Symphyotrichum oblongifolium
  • Blue wild indigo
    Baptisia australis
  • Eastern blazing star
    Liatris scariosa
  • Foxglove beardtongue
    Penstemon digitalis
  • Golden groundsel
    Packera obovata
  • Heartleaf golden Alexander
    Zizia aptera
  • Ironweed
    Vernonia fasciculata
  • Purple coneflower
    Echinacea purpurea
  • Showy goldenrod
    Solidago speciosa
  • Slender mountain mint
    Pycnanthemum tenuifolium
  • Wild bergamot
    Monarda fistulosa

Featured grasses

  • Little bluestem
    Schizachyrium scoparium
  • Prairie dropseed
    Sporobolus heterolepis
  • Sideoats grama
    Bouteloua curtipendula

Woody shrubs

  • American beautyberry
    Callicarpa americana
  • American smoketree
    Cotinus obovatus
  • Aromatic sumac
    Rhus aromatica
  • Wild hydrangea
    Hydrangea arborescens

*Forbs are broad-leaved herbaceous plants, distinct from grasses, shrubs, etc.

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