“Why are wildflowers so important to us who care for flowers? …to encounter them in their natural habitat is an extraordinary aesthetic pleasure… .” — Katharine S. White
Hello, June! I can’t wait to see what you have in store.
In my backyard this week, an eastern blue jay has commandeered the peanut feeder. Jays tend to be, well, a little possessive, so the other songbirds aren’t as delighted as we are about this. The striking sapphire and cerulean blue feathers bring Jeff and me to the kitchen window to watch it, every time.
It’s interesting to note that the “blues” we see are actually brown. The Cornell Lab tells me the brown pigment in the feathers, called melanin, look blue because of “light scattering” (read more here). Who knew? Evidently, the “blue” we see in other birds such as indigo buntings and bluebirds is also an optical illusion. Cool!
I remember when the Corvids were nearly wiped out by West Nile Virus almost two decades ago—and you didn’t see a jay or a crow anywhere. Now, when I hear a blue jay calling from the trees or see one at the backyard feeder I feel my spirits lift. It’s a story with a happy ending. We could use more of those.
Out on the prairie, a field sparrow sways on a new white wild indigo spear, singing its accelerating series of notes. I have trouble telling sparrows apart, so hearing the song always helps.
Deep in the grasses I spy my first calico pennant dragonfly of the season. I don’t like to say I have favorites, but… how could I not?
So beautiful! Other creatures aren’t quite as flamboyant, like this bee, deep into an investigation of the cream wild indigo.
Or this tiny insect making a “beeline” for prairie alumroot.
I discover another little critter strolling through the prairie phlox blossoms. Can you find it?
And nearby, a carolina saddlebags dragonfly perches on an old plant stalk, soaking up sunlight. We don’t see many of this species here, so it’s always a treat.
Compass plant leaves, backlit by the sun, are a reminder of their towering flowers which will dominate the prairie in July.
Many of the first spring wildflowers are focused on setting seed. Wood betony’s tall stalks remind me of corn on the cob with the kernels gnawed off.
Nearby in the savanna, the snakeroot hums with more insect activity.
Nearby a pasture rose opens, flushed with pink.
What a pleasure it is to hike the prairie in early June!
Why not go see?
The opening quote is from Katharine S. White (1892-1977) from her only book, Onward and Upward in the Garden. White began working at The New Yorker in 1925, where she served as editor for 34 years. She shaped the magazine in a way that is still felt today. She married E.B. White, a writer at the magazine, who wrote many books including Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web; he was also the co-author of Elements of Style. Katharine’s book includes some lively critique of 1950’s seed and garden catalogs–fun reading.
Join Cindy for a Program or Event
Tuesday, June 7, 7-8:30 p.m.: The Garden’s Frequent Fliers: Dragonflies and Damselflies, Crestwood Garden Club, Elmhurst, IL. (Closed in-person event for members; to become a member visit them here ).
Wednesday, June 8, 7-8:30 p.m. Lawn Chair Lecture: The Schulenberg Prairie’s 60th Anniversary. The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL. Bring your lawn chair and enjoy sunset on the prairie as you hear about the people, plants, and creatures that have made this prairie such a treasure. Tickets are limited: Register here. (Note: This event may be moved inside if inclement weather makes it advisable; participants will be notified).
If you love the natural world, consider helping “Save Bell Bowl Prairie.” Read more here about simple actions you can take to keep this important Midwestern prairie remnant from being destroyed by a cargo road. Thank you for caring for our Midwestern “landscape of home”!