Photo of the Week – October 19, 2012

And now for something completely different…

I feel like I’ve been in kind of a photography rut on this blog lately.  Lots of close-up photos, especially of seeds.  This week was extremely windy, and I didn’t get out and get any new photos, so instead I dug into the archives for this photo of the week.  It’s about as different as I can get from close-ups of seeds.

Cowboys moving cattle at TNC’s Cherry Ranch in the Nebraska Panhandle. May, 2001.

The photo was taken in May 2001 at The Nature Conservancy’s Cherry Ranch, near the northwest corner of Nebraska.  It’s a dry, rocky, and utterly beautiful landscape.  It’s dominated by threadleaf sedge (aka blackroot sedge – Carex filifolia) and a number of short grass species, but also has patches of big bluestem and tall grasses here and there.  Rocky outcroppings are a great place to see pretty little flowers clinging to rocks, along with the occasional nesting prairie falcon or golden eagle.  Prairie rattlesnakes are not uncommon, but easy to see (and hear) because of the short vegetation.  The mighty Niobrara River flows through the ranch, but is small enough that you can jump over it in some places.  It’s just a great place.

Enjoy your weekend!


About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
This entry was posted in Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Photo of the Week – October 19, 2012

  1. Brent Lathrop says:

    Do we still own this?

  2. John Ragsdale says:

    What a great photograph. Well done Chris.

  3. James McGee says:

    “Rocky outcroppings are a great place to see pretty little flowers clinging to rocks”

    Chris, Would you please tell us what species of flowering plants cling to rock at this preserve? As a fan of rock gardening, you have peaked my interest.


    • Chris Helzer says:

      James, it’s not my area of the state, so I don’t know a lot of the species very well. Draba milkvetch (Astragalus spatulatus) is one common species of outcrops. Sedum lanceolatum, Tetraneuris acaulis, and Thermopsis rhombifolia are three others.

      • James McGee says:

        I tried to grow Astragalus spatulatus years ago. I have not seen this one offered by seed collectors recently. I would like to try growing it again. I did have two Astragalus utahensis I had grown from seed, but the rabbits got these almost immediately after I planted them. I have since covered my entire crevice garden with chicken wire.

        I have five Tetraneuris acaulis in my crevice garden which I grew from seed this year. The variety I am growing is an alpine form (var. caespitosa) that has the flowers just above the leaves.

        Lots of people have Sedum lanceolatum, but I have not tried it yet.

        I did plant a Thermopsis in a garden on a dry clay slope. I believe it was T. montana. It slowly declined and did not return. I think it would have done better in sandy soil. In contrast, my Baptisia have really taken off.

        The T. rhombifolia is interesting. It looks much shorter. It might make a better plant for the rock garden than T. montana. I might have to try to grow that one since seed is available.

        Sorry for digressing away from the subject of your photo. I am interested in plants more than cowboys. However, I bet the women folk would rather look at the cowboys than read about my flowers. ;)


  4. James C. Trager says:

    Yeah well, I just want to know what ants live there! :~)
    Seriously though, Chris, this is a beautiful image of that sweeping landscape.

  5. It’s comforting to know a place like that is still around.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.