Thursday 7 August 2014. Red Flowers, Gentians, and Tick Trefoil

Did not check the temp before heading out to Meadowbrook Park around noon, with my old friend Marilyn who was visiting from California, but it was comfortably cool and cloudy, even with an occasional light sprinkle of rain.

Our first stop at Meadowbrook was to check the banks of Davis/Mc Cullough creeks for cardinal flowers, which, we discovered, had just started to bloom!

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There were two plants with their first flaming red flowers and lots of tight buds for the days and weeks to come! The climax of the summer, really! Was a little surprised that the larger one was a little upstream of the place where the largest plants had been in previous years (the point of land just above the confluence of the two creeks).

Must say it took a bit of bush-whacking through thorny blackberry brambles and other vegetation to get close to it, but that’s what you do when you want to witness the splendor of cardinal flowers.

Checked the other site, down the path a little way where cardinal flowers used to grow; haven’t seen them there for a couple years, at least, but thought that might have been because of the drought then. The site this year was moist, all right, but didn’t see any cardinal flowers. Was hard to look through all the willows, though, which had grown tall and thick since I spotted the last cardinal flower there.

But did find plenty of blooming Sagitaria

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and a couple of nice clumps of winged loostrife (Lythrum alarum)

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Found cream gentians at a spot where I hadn’t seen them before, among the partridge peas, a little way down from the willows.

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Widespread through much of Meadowbrook, and adding more pink-purple to that of the still-abundant Monarda was tick trefoil, which must have been the showy species (Desmodium canadense), because it certainly was.

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A variety of grasses were coming into bloom, and Marilyn, who is more of a real botanist than I am, pointed out this handsome one: Elymus canadensis, Canada wild rye.

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At the entrance to the soft path to the middle of the prairie and the royal catchfly, we locked our bikes together at the mounted map outside the path.

In the way in was delighted to see a clump of white prairie clover, past the peak of their bloom but a first-sighting at Meadowbrook for me.

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Farther along we saw a lone monarch butterfly cruise through and not stay put long enough to get a good photo.

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Saw many, manny cream gentians with tops removed, presumably by large herbivores, but also there were some survivors in bloom

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Contrary to what I observed in an earlier post, we saw quite a few ripe blackberries, which Marilyn boldly plucked and ate and shared with me.

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It reminded me to be willing to change my interpretations of my surroundings when presented with new information, which, strangely enough, is harder to do than one might imagine.

And then there were the royal catchfly, presiding over the summer prairie.

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Royal, indeed!

Then we realized the hour was late and had to return, by retracing our path rather than be ensnared by new images if we’d gone on to the rest of the big loop.

It’s good to enjoy the prairie alone and very good to share the experience with an old friend who also knows and loves it!

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