Sunday, June 7, 2015

If the prairie won't come to the photographer

For the past several Springs, I have unsuccessfully searched for American Pasqueflowers (Anemone patens) in bloom. They are listed as being native, not rare in Washington county to the south, and Anoka county to the west, and across the St. Croix River in several counties to the east. Today, in an effort to get some photographs next Spring, we planted some in our Chisago county sand plain back yard, along with Prairie Smoke, which shows a distribution similar to Pasqueflowers, and Gray-headed Coneflower, which has a very unusual distribution in Minnesota.

monarch butterflies on Northern Plains Blazing Star
monarch butterflies on Northern Plains Blazing Star
Photo by J. Harrington

We also added four swamp milkweed plants as another of our contributions to bringing the monarch and bee populations back to some semblance of health. It's still unclear whether the Northern Plains Blazing Star we planted last year made it through the winter. I'm slowly starting to feel a very little bit like The Man Who Planted Trees, except I'm planting prairie and swamp flowers.

roadside common milkweed
roadside common milkweed
Photo by J. Harrington

While driving around Washington and Chisago counties, many of the roadsides were brightened by patches of Dame's Rocket and what I think are Ox-eye Daisies, another plant identified as invasive. I'm beginning to think that there is an interesting similarity between Minneapolis' spitting and lurking ordinances and Minnesota counties' noxious weed approach. I might not be too bothered by that except for the selective enforcement issues it raises, that, and the fact that some "invasive" plants seem to serve beneficial uses. Dame's Rocket attracts moths, butterflies(?) and bees and provides both pollen and nectar. I haven't yet found any listing of what native plants it displaces. If I had my choices, I'd declare Kentucky blue grass a noxious weed. Probably time to read some more of Walt and repeat the serenity prayer again or to study:

Hesitation Theory

By Reginald Shepherd 

I drift into the sound of wind,
how small my life must be
to fit into his palm like that, holly
leaf, bluejay feather, milkweed fluff,
pin straw or sycamore pod, resembling
scraps of light. The world
slips through these fingers
so easily, there’s so much
to miss: the sociable bones
linked up in supple rows, mineral
seams just under the skin. I hold
my palm against the sun and don’t see
palm or sun, don’t hold anything
in either hand. I look up, look
away (what’s that?), I trip
and stumble (fall
again), find myself face down
in duff, a foam of fallen live oak
leaves, with only
this life, mine at times.


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