Yesterday’s sunrise was hazy and colorful and made me late getting started on seed harvest. It’s hard to resist a colorful sun and calm winds…
The haze stuck around all day. While we were harvesting seeds at a restored wetland, we came across some big patches of lobelia – both blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Because there still wasn’t much breeze and the haze was making gorgeous light, I exercised by authority and tenure and did a little photography while the Fellows continued harvesting seed. I only felt a little bad about it.
Autumn in the Platte River Prairies is mostly about yellows and golds. Sunflowers, goldenrods, and other yellow flowers often swell up within a prairie of green-turning-golden grasses. White flowers like bonesets and asters provide accents here and there. However, if you know where to look, autumn is also the time when blue flowers make an appearance. Blue is not a common color among flowers – partly because it doesn’t seem to attract as many pollinators as other colors. This time of year, though, both blue lobelia and pitcher sage (Salvia azurea) are making their presence felt. I didn’t photograph any pitcher sage yesterday, but we definitely saw it as we carried our buckets through the prairies.
After I got home, I grabbed some lunch and caught up on some emails and other computer work. I couldn’t help noticing, though, that the wind velocity was still fairly low and there was enough haze to somewhat diffuse even a mid-afternoon sun. My mind wandered. I figured it must be time for downy gentian (Gentiana puberulenta) to be blooming. We don’t have that species in our lowland Platte River Prairies, but there are some nice populations in the loess soils of a couple nearby prairies owned by Prairie Plains Resource Institute. I decided I’d better go check on it and headed for Gjerloff Prairie. Sure enough – more blue flowers!
Feeling blue? It might be a great time to see blue flowers in a prairie near you. Even if all you see are yellow and white flowers, that’s still worth the trip, right?