Friday, August 11, 2017

August blooms, #phenology

We've been seeing more and more roadside plants that we thought might be either goldenrod or ragweed, but we weren't sure which. The University of Minnesota has a web page with line drawings that we didn't find to be terribly helpful in terms of "drive-by" identification. The Herbal Academy's photos strongly suggest that the yellow flowers we see, that we think might be ragweed, aren't, they're goldenrod. That determination was further confirmed by the multiple photos found on this blog page. So, from now on, if it's not a black- or brown-eyed Susan, or a compass plant, or some other kind of sunflower shape growing by the roadside at this yellow-golden time of year, if it's a bright yellow (not greenish) feathery flower, we're going to assume it's goldenrod, because if it were ragweed, we probably couldn't notice it against the other greens as we drove past at 30 or 40 mph.

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

It's also the time of year we wish the Northern Plains Blazing Star that we planted several years ago had "taken" better. We've seen no sign of it after the first year. Maybe it couldn't compete with the heavy grass growth around our "wet spot," maybe the deer browsed it beyond recovery, maybe both and or other. Perhaps the soils where we planted it stayed too wet instead of "moist" in the Winter. While it was here and blooming, it certainly made the monarch butterflies happy. That made us happy. It seems as though we're too often outnumbered or "outfoxed" by pocket gophers, moles, deer and other critters with more appreciation for a plant's taste and nutritional value than for aesthetics and biodiversity. Sigh. Probably time to try planting some more next Spring, on slightly drier ground. We would not mind at all watching more of our fields filled with common milkweed get eaten by caterpillars.

I, Up they soar



I

Up they soar, the planet’s butterflies,
pigments from the warm body of the earth,
cinnabar, ochre, phosphor yellow, gold
a swarm of basic elements aloft.

Is this flickering of wings only a shoal
of light particles, a quirk of perception?
Is it the dreamed summer hour of my childhood
shattered as by lightning lost in time?

No, this is the angel of light, who can paint
himself as dark mnemosyne Apollo,
as copper, hawkmoth, swallowtail.

I see them with my blurred understanding
as feathers in the coverlet of haze
in Brajcino Valley’s noon-hot air.


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