“I love it when a plan comes together.” Col. John “Hannibal” Smith.
Last summer, my wife and I were exploring at the Niobrara Valley Preserve and found what we thought were pasque flower plants, though they were well past blooming. There were hundreds of plants on north-facing slopes in the mixed-grass prairie north of the river. The soils in that mixed-grass prairie are more loamy than the vegetated sand dunes south of the river, and they support a different prairie plant community. We don’t see pasque flower along the Platte River or at my family prairie, so I was really excited to see it. I hadn’t realized it grew at the Niobrara Valley Preserve, so it was a pleasant surprise.
As Kim and I walked around those hills last summer, I promised myself I’d figure out a way to photograph the pasque flowers in bloom during the spring of 2018. As spring finally staggered out of the gate this year, I kept a watchful eye on Facebook and Instagram posts and checked in periodically with friends – all in an effort to gauge the best time to head north for pasque flower photography. A couple weeks ago, our Hubbard Fellows made a trip up to the Preserve, and I had them scout the site for me. Olivia sent me a photograph of a blooming pasque flower, but said the majority of plants hadn’t flowered yet. Shortly after that, the area got over a foot of snow, which I figured would slow things down a little. For the next two weeks, I nervously watched the calendar, focusing on this week’s scheduled staff meeting at the Preserve, and hoping the timing would work out for pasque flowers too. I was sorely afraid I’d arrive only to find that I’d missed the peak bloom by just a few days.
Finally, this Monday, we drove up to the Niobrara Valley Preserve, arriving about 45 minutes before our noon meeting was scheduled to start. I immediately hopped on my ATV and rode out to the hills north of the river to find the pasque flowers. The sky was cloudy, but the clouds were thin enough to create beautiful diffused light, and winds were light. I tried not to get my hopes up as I climbed the last hill to one of the spots Kim and I had found the flowers last summer. As I crested the hill I grinned from ear to ear.
I spent the next 30 minutes frantically scampering about, trying to photograph as many flowers as I could before I absolutely had to head back for the meeting. Later, during a break before supper, I talked a few colleagues into coming out again with me, and I managed another hour or so of photography. I could have stayed for days. Everything had worked out just as I’d hoped. I was right on time for peak bloom, and the light and wind cooperated as well. Life was just perfect. I loved the world and the world loved me.
The very next day, I broke my ankle. No kidding.
My photography outings might be a little limited for the next few weeks, but I’ll have a whole raft of pasque flower photos to stare at in the meantime:
Glad you made it there in time! Look forward to your photo of the week coming in my e-mail! Hope you heal quickly.
I’m curious about other plants that thrive well on a northern slope???
Thank you for sharing! I hope your ankle is better soon!
Heal soon! I can look at a lot more Pasque flower photos. I used to have them in my garden and I really miss them.
I, too, go chasing after those fleeting moments of wildflower beauty. Living in OK with extensive travel across both OK and TX, I get the opportunity to stop and “smell the roses” figuratively; trying to capture the beauty of massive, picturesque wildflowers. Love your column. I tell all my fellow employees with PFQF to sign up for your newsletter. Broken ankle – so sorry you have to go through that. Broke mine about 6 years ago and it’s never been the same!
I’d love to see more photos of the pasque flowers! Gutted to hear about the broken ankle though. Take care
Awesome image awesome subject !!!!
Yes, they are so photogenic to the point of being addicting. I know. They bring out some obsessive behaviors…maybe because winter is long.
I can’t remember ever hearing of these flowers, let alone seeing them. They’re so beautiful — I can understand why you’d find it hard to stop photographing them. I suspect all of us will happily look at as many photos as you’d like to share. I don’t anticipate boredom setting in.
Sorry about that ankle. I hope you heal quickly, and without complications. I’m sure it’s even more frustrating during this beautiful season.
Beautiful flowers! May you heal quickly!
Gorgeous! Thanks for your efforts, and sorry about your ankle….be careful out there!
Beautiful flower, hope you heal up quickly!
Lovely photos. I have a few pasque flowers in my yard and they always start out lavender and fade to white before dropping.
I agree that the pasque flower is addicting. I saw them in the Colorado foothills, and have heard that they occur here is Washington County for the next decades, but have never found them here, at the right time. Your photos are really great. Very sorry to hear about your leg, especially frustrating in spring! Be patient. ;)
Thank you for sharing. I have never heard of these flowers. Must be a western species. Hope you can get around ok with your broken ankle. So sorry.
I love it when a plant comes together!
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