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,
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.
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.