KWEC reaps benefits of donated native grasses, wildflowers

The grounds around the Kansas Wetland Education Center near Great Bend were looking a little barren on the day that Dennis Lutgen of Star Seed, Inc., Osborne, decided to stop in and see what the center was all about.

"I had heard about the center, and decided to stop in," he said. "There is a lot of enthusiasm for it in the community."

That simple stop changed the face of the center forever. After visiting with Curtis Wolfe, manager of the KWEC, Lutgen and Star Seed decided to donate native grasses and flowers to brighten up the grounds.

"I thought they might have a need for native plants and grass at the facility," he said. "We wanted to help them out."

"Having native plants is important because wildflowers have always been associated with the Kansas prairie," said Wolfe. "It will provide some color, giving the center a new look that will be more eye catching."

The generous donation by Star Seed included seven varieties of wildflower plus buffalo grass and blue grama grass. The wildflowers are annuals and will go to seed every year, sustaining the growth just as in the wild. Donated plants include New England asters, black-eyed susans, purple coneflowers, Illinois bundle flowers, partridge peas, purple prairie clovers and Canadian tick trefoils.  All the plants are native to the Kansas prairie.

The flowers were planted along the fenceline bordering Kansas Highway 156 and around the parking lot. The grasses will cover front lawn of the center.

"We hope the flowers along the highway will attract attention to the center and bring in more visitors," said Wolfe.

The grasses and flowers aren’t just eye-catching: They're educational too.

"We have many classes for kids that involve insects," he said. "The flowers are a great attractor for butterflies and bugs for kids to catch and examine."

For more information about the KWEC, visit the website at

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