Friday 7 June 2013. Penstemon/Spiderwort from the Soft Path and the Big Loop: Clouds and Colors of Early June

Started hearing birds at 4:10 this morning. By 4:30 the lead robins were going at it, chirping insistently, and of course the cardinals were not far behind.

The temperature was 59 degrees F; the sky was cloudy. Set off a little after 5 on Rhododendron; rode on Vine directly to the Windsor/Vine bridge. Stopped briefly to check the beaver-chewed alders (more leaves obscured the scars), then locked Rhododendron to the rack next to the Race Street pavilion and walked the soft path to the middle of the prairie.

It was so strikingly quiet, and so green, with abundant white Penstemon and the blue (though many seemed not fully open) spiderwort.

On the southwest side of where the soft path turned toward the middle of the prairie, there was a dense stand of cup plants (Sylphium perfoliatum), with their

Penstemon among Cup Plants

whimsical leaves that wrapped, tightly at the bottom and more loosely at the top, around the square middle stem, forming the eponymous cup. Seems like the wet spring has made this a good year for the cup plants, so far. Got a shot w/ Penstemon among them.

Liked the quiet and the solitude but was expecting to find some new flowers in the middle of the prairie, this place where, at other times in the season, the shooting stars, royal catchfly, and bottle gentians are hidden. But the Penstemon were glorious, at the height of their bloom: developing seeds were succeeding the first blossoms, but mostly there still were open flowers, and buds to keep the bloom going a while. The common but always graceful spiderwort probably would be showing more blue a little later in the morning.

Maybe the clouds were inducing this moodiness, but found myself wavering among mixed feelings–a little disappointed and sad (Oh, the quest for novelty!) yet still partly content. Knew the beauty of just this combination of flowers likely would soon sink in.

Penstemon and Spiderwort Under Clouds

Got close to a deer that actually seemed to follow me a little way.

Walked all the way to the paved path and then west to the blue flag iris patch. The large patch showed few fully-open blooms, so it didn’t seem worth walking through the water to photograph them. But there was an irresistible smaller patch that called to me “loudly,” and so in went the Mary Janes. But it was worth it! 20130628-144023.jpg

Unlocked Rhododendron and rode around the rest of the big loop, where the Penstemon were snowy-thick. Then close to the Freyfogel Overlook were bright pink pasture roses and

Coreopsis among the spiderwort and Penstemon.


Followed a redder purple off the path a little way to discover it was a redder spiderwort.

Redder Spiderwort

Right in front of the overlook platform was the lead plant, and noticed another one close to it. The buds were apparent, and the foliage made me think of the

Lead Plant in Bud 7 June 13

styles in the time of Mr. Selfrige.

Moody sky notwithstanding, was glad to have sampled the early-June palate of this prairie morning.


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