Saturday 29 July 2017. Height of the Summer Bloom

It was 61 beautiful degrees under clear skies a little after sunrise (6:15) this morning as I headed south on Race Street toward Meadowbrook Park.

I apologize here for having fallen behind in getting my notes of summer rides (that keep receding further into the past and my recollection of the details less certain!) shaped up to release on the blog. But still want to share these distinctive markers of the seasons, so here they are.

For a stretch of ten yards or so, several newly blooming cardinal flowers (a single plant would have been stunning!) graced the banks of dry McCullough and Davis creeks below the rabbit-statue bridge


Also were contrasting purple-blue self-heal, aka “heal-all.” It must be good medicine of some kind.


The cardinal flowers really were in their full glory.


Farther down the path in the wet (iris, in spring) area Liatris were staring to manifest their blazing feathery stars.


Noticed nearby a strangely curled stem, maybe a goldenrod.


And farther on still, on the soft path to the middle of the prairie, was the splendor of the royal catchfly,


accompanied by lots of rattlesnake master.


There was Culver’s root, though past its peak bloom.


Also past peak but still holding forth were purple coneflowers.


At least three of the “Sylphium sisters” were in bloom there, S.integrifolium (rosinweed), with its simpler leaves and smaller flowers


square-stemmed, cup-leafed S. perfoliatum (cup plant)


And S. lacineata (compass plant), the little suns of its blooms stacked high over the prairie, as tall as the emerging big bluestem grass.


and sometimes topped with a goldfinch


It was the time of abundant, fresh bloom for yellow coneflower, ironweed,


and of pink-purple Monarda.


As I write, it’s been a while already since the prairie was in full bloom, but it’s nice to revisit that time as October draws life inward.


Sunday 23 July 2017. First Cardinal Flowers and Other Summer Blooms

77 degrees F under very cloudy skies at 6:15 this morning as I headed out to, where else? Meadowbrook Park to witness the summer bloom of the prairie.

At the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek could see a faint spot of red, not quite visible in this photo.


But I could see it, so today made the trek through the “briars and the brambles” to the creekbed, and was rewarded! Was thrilled to see newly blooming cardinal flowers, on both sides of the creek.


Got to view of the first flowers opening,


the stalked bulbs of the buds peeling out into their graceful, majestic bird-shapes.


Around the corner and down the path were more flowers, starting with purple and yellow coneflowers and Monarda.


Then was taken by surprise by a deer close to this bench.


Farther along was rosinweed,


Tall Coreopsis,


early goldenrod, the exact identity of which I haven’t been able to figure out,


and wild quinine, the cauliflower-like white flowers of which were more widespread than I remember from previous years and mostly quite healthy-looking.


Dramatic clouds billowed over the prairie.

as I dismounted Rhododendron and walked into the prairie on the unpaved path.

Compass plant stalks with their version of sunflowers rose toward the clouds high above the other plants.


A red-winged blackbird lighted at the top of one,


then flew off.


There was ironweed,


the ever-photogenic false sunflower,


and Culver’s root.


And, lo, there was royal catchfly!


Which was stunning close-up by itself as well as mid-distance, framed by rattlesnake master,


or as the red splash in a prairie “bouquet.”


It was the time of the two red prairie flowers, the zenith of the summer!

Noticed (cropped!) cream gentian foliage with the beginnings of buds but no blooms yet.


On the way back to the paved path noticed white prairie clover


and purple prairie clover.


The progression along the inflorescence from pre-bud to bud to flower to spent bloom of both species looked like a flame moving from the bottom to the top.

The clouds continued to threaten rain, which came as I headed, entirely satisfied with the morning’s presentation, north on Race Street, toward home.


Saturday 15 July 2017. Meadowbrook Summer Prairie Crowned by Royal Catchfly

This morning at 6:07 it was 59 degrees F under party cloudy skies, the air calm.

Just returned from several days in the Colorado mountains (yes, they were awesome!) and was eager to see what what the summer prairie bloom at Meadowbrook Park was doing.

Rode Rhododendron the road bike southward to Windsor Road and barely stopped before pushing the button and crossing. They seemed to have worked the bugs out of the system, hooray!

Then entered Meadowbrook at the Race Street entrance, passed by the Sensory Garden, and walked the bike toward the Art and Billie Spomer Prairie.

On the way, at the edge of the wooded area next to the pavilion were American bellflowers.


McCullough Creek under the little wooden bridge was low and pooled. Was there some kind of dam upstream? The water level seemed to have gone down quickly.

Out in the prairie, looked for queen-of-the-prairie where I’d seen it a couple years ago but couldn’t see any this morning. Did not walk out into the dew-drenched vegetation to look more carefully.

But saw the early sunlight coming through the thin layer of mist that still lay over the prairie


and through the condensation on the flowers and leaves of the prairie plants.


Saw spiderwebs finely beaded with dewdrops.


There was a gorgeous variety of prairie flowers blooming in synchrony, like a massive bouquet:

False sunflowers, Monarda,


yellow coneflowers, Liatris,


Culver’s root.


Compass plant, with its erect, finger-like leaves,


large, bursting-yellow radiating flower-discs


stacked on its outrageously tall stalk,


alone and in groups,


was compellingly photogenic.

There were abundant rattlesnake master and mountain mint


purple coneflower.


Best of all, the royal catchfly were newly in bloom! They were stunning in bunches,




and in combination with other flowers.


On the way out got pretty close to a buck who seemed to have planned to walk right to where I was.


Was not afraid he would charge me or something, but did have respect for his size, strength, and independence as “wild” creature. So I calmly stood where I was and tried to look at him in a way that conveyed: “No worries, dude, I’m not a threat,” and he veered off to the left.

Got a nice view of the sky over the prairie


and headed back, stopping first for a view of McCullough Creek from the rabbit-statue bridge.


Was glad to be there for the presentation!

Tuesday 4 July 2017. Almost to Flatville

It was 68 degrees F and mostly sunny and calm at 6:45 this morning of American Independence Day as I filled up Rhododendron’s tires (it made a helpful difference!) and headed east on Washington Street into the dappled canopy.


Could not skip a stop at Weaver Park, even with having to traverse a stretch of trail-less grass, across which a couple of apparently well-fed ground hogs undulated toward the tree-lined street side of the park.


The edge of the purported buffalo-wallow pond was richly decorated with newly blooming prairie plants, like Monarda,


yellow coneflower, cup plants, an early aster,


and, most whimsically, the candelabra of Culver’s root,


all beautifully set in front of the water lily pads and cattails of the pond.

Then headed back on Washington to Route 130 (High Cross Road), where there is a lovely place to view the sun rising over the landscape


and on past Cottonwood Road to the “T” at 1800N.


A couple of cyclists behind me went right (perhaps to Homer Lake) and I turned left, to the north. The road was narrow but smooth and mostly without farm houses (that is, potential loose dogs) close to it.

The bridge over I-74 was simple and without much bordering vegetation.


Continued north, crossing the Saline Ditch,


and detecting some roll in the grade of the road.


Just before heading back stopped to look down into a creek


then turned back at the road just past Ford Harris Road.


Came back to Ford Harris and an debated just continuing to retrace my path, but craved a little novelty. At the same time, could not remember this stretch, so took a bold gamble about its safety and plunged westward on Ford Harris Road.

Close to High Cross Road was a cemetery on the side of a little (central Illinois) hill.


Got a distant shot of a dickcissel


the calls (which which sounds to me something like “Uru ahim!” (“awake, my brothers!”) from the Israeli folk, song “Hava Nagila”) [Note: the dickcissel recordings I found on YouTube were not exactly like the birds I heard, but maybe you get the idea. Head out on a country road some morning and see what you think.) from conspecifics of which had been accompanying me for much of this trip.

At Perkins Road was a nice prairie planting that included non-native but handsome mullein.


It was another satisfying 20 miles!

Sunday 7 July 2013. Time Lapse: More Kinds of Flowers, Full-Bloom Lead Plant

Just back from a family vacation, where I took some pictures but rebelled against journaling: at the beginning of the trip my notes were again swallowed into the ether of cyberspace. 😦 So all of my vacation writing was devoted to trying to catch up on Velo du Jour. How far from being in the present can we go?

It’s getting to be a while, again, but I know I was beyond happy to be back on Rhododendron to see what had appeared at Meadowbrook Park since my last visit!

Fortunately did record the weather information: temperature 66 degrees F and humid, sky cloudy, breeze from the south. Got a bit of a late start, but here I was!

There was a blanket of fog over Meadowbrook but could see it dispersing as I approached.
So here are the photos and what I remember about them.
McCullough/Davis creeks were this full; still running.
Purple-pink Monarda were getting thicker, yellow cone flowers were newly blooming, mountain mint also was showing its many little white flowers. 20130707-095958.jpg
The dark yellow Heliopsis showed up well in foregrounds. 20130707-100046.jpg
And, ah! The glorious, audacious lead plant! Was sad to think I missed the very peak of its bloom, but so grateful to have seen this year’s growing buds and this still-lovely post-climax.
Could see many kinds of flowers from the Freyfogel Overlook, but overall green was the dominant color. There was an occasional spiderwort flower but mostly lots of plants in seed.
The candelabra flowers of Culver’s root had appeared, but I did not get a good photo.

Saw my first Meadowbrook compass plant bloom of the year! 20130724-100535.jpg
It wasn’t very tall. Will there be taller ones later or is it just a year for them to be shorter?

Have not given up on catching up on old trips! Time is short, but, to overuse a currently popular phrase, “It’s all good!”

Friday 29 May 2012. The Elusive Royal Catchfly, and Other Prairie Flowers

Rode Discovery this morning; the back tire is good as new after a minor adjustment.

This was, hands down, the very hottest morning of the year so far. Didn’t get a numeric reading, but it just felt hot, which it normally does not, at 5:15 AM.  But it did cool off some going from home toward Meadowbrook Park.

Again today there were some clouds to give the sunrise some color and texture.

Compass plant against sunrise

Today’s post is pretty much all about the flowers of Meadowbrook.  At the southwest corner of the park, the yellow coneflowers were starting to make a yellow blanket.   More blooms were opening on those sentinels of the prairie, the compass plants.  There

Way-blooming compass plant

also were good-sized areas of green with white flowers: Baptisiaand rattlesnake master, especially.  Clumps of tall prairie grasses are becoming more evident.

Tall but still young prairie grass and sky

Really wanted to spot the royal catchfly this morning.  Stood on the observation platform and looked and looked but didn’t see

Can you find the royal catchfly? Hint: it’s behind a Baptisia.

it.  So was just going to go into the prairie and search but did finally see it from the edge before I went ahead, ignoring the possible attacks of chiggers and deer ticks (they must be out there, with all the deer) and got close and photographed the few

Royal catchfly hiding among a lot of other tall plants.

plants with the gorgeous red-star flowers.  It’s so easy to get a decent photo of them!  Cardinal flower (who knows what kind of

Royal catchfly closeup

year it’s going to be for them?) is still my favorite, but I do get a similar surge of endorphins when I look at these.

Also got a fairly decent close-up of Culver’s root.

Best shot yet of Culver’s root

Farther on, stood on the Windsor/Vine bridge for a while; heard a couple of brief bullfrog solos; saw the spreading rings where the tadpoles touch the surface to gulp air.  Occasionally one would jump part way out of the water, like it couldn’t wait to be in the more terrestrial stage of its life.  But I detected no beavers.  Also wonder where the duck family went.

There were at least three species of blooming plants the identity of which I was not sure.  Will have to look them up.

Saw lots and lots of red blackberries, especially at the northwest corner of the park.  The SD card had only one shot left, and I didn’t want to do a bunch of deleting just then.  Will get a pic another time, maybe when I figure out the mystery flowers.

Crazy flowers, including a mystery species, and sky