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

img_1740

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

img_1729

The cardinal flowers really were in their full glory.

img_1741

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

img_1745

Noticed nearby a strangely curled stem, maybe a goldenrod.

img_1749-1

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

img_1793

accompanied by lots of rattlesnake master.

img_1799

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

img_1780

Also past peak but still holding forth were purple coneflowers.

img_1776

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

img_1761-1

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

img_1813

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

img_1815

and sometimes topped with a goldfinch

img_1769

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

img_1831

and of pink-purple Monarda.

img_1830

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.

Advertisements

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.

img_1462

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.

img_1470

Got to view of the first flowers opening,

img_1468

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

img_1466

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

img_1474

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

img_1476

Farther along was rosinweed,

img_1489

Tall Coreopsis,

img_1484

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

img_1494

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

img_1496

Dramatic clouds billowed over the prairie.

img_1491
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.

img_1509

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

img_1517-2

then flew off.

img_1518-1

There was ironweed,

img_1523-1

the ever-photogenic false sunflower,

img_1526-1

and Culver’s root.

img_1525

And, lo, there was royal catchfly!

img_1536

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

img_1535

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

img_1551

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.

img_1568

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

img_1576-2

and purple prairie clover.

img_1581-1

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.

img_1583-1

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.

img_1258

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

img_1268

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

img_1266

Saw spiderwebs finely beaded with dewdrops.

img_1278

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

False sunflowers, Monarda,

img_1261

yellow coneflowers, Liatris,

img_1263-1

Culver’s root.

img_1275-1

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

img_1262

large, bursting-yellow radiating flower-discs

img_1327

stacked on its outrageously tall stalk,

img_1283

alone and in groups,

img_1282

was compellingly photogenic.

There were abundant rattlesnake master and mountain mint

img_1287-1

purple coneflower.

img_1329

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

img_1308-1

close-up,

img_1299

and in combination with other flowers.

img_1307

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

img_1336

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

img_1337

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

img_1342

Was glad to be there for the presentation!

Saturday 17 June 2017. Lots of New Flowers at Meadowbrook but No Visible Queen of the Prairie

It was 72 degrees under progressively more cloudy skies at 6:05 this morning as I pointed Rhododendron down the driveway, toward the street and Meadowbrook Park.

First, looked at wild roses in my own back yard, which were attracting lots of pollinators.

img_9559

At Meadowbrook stopped at the arresting sensory garden

img_9570

where there were poppies, common milkweed, purple coneflowers, Delphinium, (a shameless mixture of natives and exotics, i.e., a garden) and more.

img_9579

As I walked toward the Art and Billie Spomer Prairie, noticed that already black-eyed Susans were starting to bloom.

img_9582

Crossed the wooden bridge over McCullough Creek

img_9584

and walked out, i.e., off the path, into the dew-covered prairie, looking where I’d see them before (but not last year, I don’t believe) for queen of the prairie flowers. Did not, however, see any.

It was pretty much worth the soaking shorts and shoes, though, because I did get decent views of other prairie flowers: common milkweed

img_9598

butterfly milkweed

img_9599

rattlesnake master

img_9613

purple coneflower,

img_9602-1

Baptisia

img_9608

false sunflower,

img_9597

wild petunia.

img_9631

Saw stalks of cup plant

img_9618

and compass plant

img_9592

elongating upward.

Spiderwort, though past its peak, continued to produce nearly perfect violet-blue triangular flowers.

img_9601

Got back on the paved path and rode past the wet area, the place of irises, where my eye was caught by an unusual (two, actually) bird. They turned out to be, unmistakably, two rose-breasted grosbeaks!

img_9623

Farther on by the Freyfogle overlook,
lead plant continued its bloom.

img_9634

Was sad not to see queen of the prairie, but its absence reminded me not to take it for granted and to appreciate the unique floral symphony that the prairie offers each year.

Friday 5 August 2016. Not One but Two Meadowbrook Cardinal Flower Places!

Actually made it out a little before (5:35) the sunrise this morning,

img_9026
when it was 70 degrees F, the sky party cloudy, though the phone ap claimed, erroneously in my exact location, that it was raining (?).

Rode to Meadowbrook Park to see whether the cardinal flowers had appeared and also whether the cream gentians (of which I’d seen the beginning of buds) had started to bloom.

Took the Vine Street route and saw the bifurcated ash tree at the edge of Blair Park,

img_9027
which was still mostly leafy. Close to it was a newly planted tree. Was not sure that it wasn’t another ash. Ashes, ashes, so many are falling down….

At Meadowbrook took the loop around the Art and Billie Spomer Prairie

img_9028
in a clockwise (not my usual) direction. Was happy to see the colors of the dawn sky over the prairie again, after what seemed like a long time.

Rode fairly directly to the Freyfogel observation deck, where there were tick trefoil

img_9032
and a bumble bee getting what it could from an old wild bergamot flower,
full green pods of white wild indigo

img_9033

as well as dark, ripe ones,

img_9041

aging Culver root,

img_9036

tall Coreopsis and two of the “Sylphium sisters” (compass plant and prairie dock) in the same frame,

img_9035

and foliage but still barely buds of cream gentian.

img_9039

The false sunflower were present and photogenic as ever.

img_9042

Liked the human-like forms of rattlesnake master flowers.

img_9044

Noticed a lot of “browning” in the flowers;

img_9043
wondered whether it was more than maturity, maybe disease.

The sky over the prairie was gorgeous and dramatic this morning.
and it was hard to resist taking lots of photos.

Got a modest shot of the Marker statue with a good sky behind it.

img_9056

Whether or not you like the sculpture, I think one has to admit that it really interacts well with its environment.

Saw gentian leaves near the statue

img_9058
but wasn’t sure whether they were of the cream or (blue) bottle species. Soon there should be flowers that will tell.

There was more dramatic sky farther along the path

img_9060

and then, when I went to get a close shot of the Liatris by the two little trees, saw some blue vervain and, wonder of wonders, in the place they had been for several years, then not for at least the past two, there were cardinal flowers!

img_9067

There were at least two different plants with the red flowers!

img_9068

Ah, the joy of having let go of something loved and then for it unexpectedly, against hope, to have it return!

img_9073

Yielded to the draw of another shot of the sky

img_9076

then stopped briefly at the rabbit-statue bridge to check the cardinal flowers there.

img_9078

There they were (if you look really carefully!). But was content not to get into the stickers to be close to them; was just glad they were there.

Felt overflowing with the abundance and generosity of my surroundings, this place, this day!

Tuesday 2 August 2016. Lingering with the Tall Coreopsis and Wandering Eastward on Curtis Road

Though I glimpsed the pink sky from inside the house early this morning, a list of things (like headstand, which I never used to leave the house without doing and am returning to that practice) kept me from bringing out Rhododendron, the road bike, until 7:45. It was 73 degrees F and humid at that time, with thinly spread clouds that allowed plenty of light through but kept the sun from blazing too brutally.

The plan for this morning was to ride by the north edge of Meadowbrook Park, the part that I’ve tried (with mixed results) to hurry past toward the end of many a ride, and then eastward on Curtis Road.

After a grumpy passage through the “micromanaging” stoplight system on Windsor and Race streets rode (downhill!) east on the sidewalk along Windsor Road and stopped for lots of photos.

I’ve seen better compositions of August prairie flowers at this edge of the park, but there still was beauty aplenty, if one looked.

img_8919

White wild indigo lifted their plump green and darkening pods.

img_8939

Blooming purple coneflowers still were abundant, and dense, in places.

img_8928

The star of today’s display, it seemed, was the tall Coreopsis.

img_8927

many individuals quite worthy of their name.

Here they make a nice background for a thistle

img_8930-1

It certainly was good to be out among the summer-worn bloom: vigorous, colorful, diverse, abundant. But the word “fresh” was not the first to come to mind. Reminded me a little of the awesome week-long yoga intensive I did last week, many (but not all!) of the participants of which were at least as old as I am and/or bearing various manifestations of life’s progression, even as we drank in the sunlight of BKS Iyengar’s teaching through the channel of dear Lois.

Also thought about the current installment of difficulty and pain that happens to be passing through a lot of people in my life (including, I suppose, myself) these days. It’s real and not to be dismissed, especially that of others. But still it has gaps, where, e.g., the summer prairie’s healing glow can shine through. I’m not entirely sure (and others insist to me) that allowing this joy isn’t a form of painting a smiley face over the pain. It just seems like a good alternative to despair.

Saw rosinweed flowers in interesting positions.

img_8931

Was not expecting to spend the morning with wet feet, but barely stepped into the mowed edge of the prairie and my Keen sandals and feet were thoroughly soaked. Amazing how much liquid water can be produced by condensation. Oh well. The dew is a fact of August morning prairie life.

Did not intend to turn into the big loop of the “Art and Billie Spomer” prairie,
but there it was,

img_8941

featuring compass plants

img_8944

whose stacks of large yellow flowers practically throw themselves at your phone camera, white wild indigo pods, and rattlesnake master that look like pompon girls.

img_8947

and the always photogenic false sunflowers

img_8943

Only went as far as the Freyfogel observation deck then turned back and headed out Windsor to Philo (passing lots of sweet little goldfinches atop the high chain-link fence) and then east on Curtis Road.

Also saw but didn’t try to photograph lots of dickcissels and at least two (or was it the same one twice?) red-tailed hawks gliding over the corn.

img_8948

The ride was easy, which made me worry a bit about the return trip, but mostly just enjoyed being out between the corn and beans.

img_8955
Went as far as 1250N and 1975E and turned back.

Stopped at creek (must be a tributary of the Salt Fork) where I’d seen wood ducks before, though it was a little ways north. No ducks today but there were quite a few ebony jewelwing damselflies.

img_8954

Was glad to get a few good miles in.

And the way back was easy, too.

Saturday 23 July 2016. Pink-Purple, Yellow, and a Bit of White in the Little Prairie

It was 72 degrees F at 7:02 am, with the unimpeded sun rays already starting to blaze.

Time was short. Pined for the royal catchfly at Meadowbrook and wondered whether cardinal flower might be starting to bloom there (as it is in my front yard, by happy circumstance!)

img_8478

So went as far as the prairie planting on Florida and Orchard, which was crowded with tall, blooming prairie plants.

img_8481

Included on today’s roster were rosinweed

img_8480
and yellow coneflower, false sunflower, and black-eyed Susan, which are not pictured.

Among the pink-purple examples were purple coneflower, (not pictured) ironweed

img_8482

wild bergamot

img_8486

blue vervain (Verbena hastata)

img_8489

and an early-blooming aster

img_8496
near which also were white rattlesnake master and mountain mint.

Saw a nice brood of immature milkweed bugs clustered at the tip of a common milkweed pod.

img_8484

Then went on with the day!