25 September 2012

Prairie in late September

  I've said it before: The BEST thing about living in our neighborhood is the large expanse of prairie that runs through it. I know that not everybody appreciates the prairie landscape and it would have been far more profitable to fill it with houses than native plants, so I feel very fortunate to have such a beautiful place almost right in our back yard. A walk through the prairie almost always clears my mind.

This summer's drought really took a toll on many of the blooming flowers. But prairie plants are tough by definition and regardless of the conditions, there's always sometime beautiful to see. With fall upon us, the grasses are starting to turn a warm, rosy color.

 Most of the flowers have gone to seed, but a few dots of gold black-eyed susan punctuate the landscape.

  There are remnants of yellow compass plants standing tall throughout the prairie.

 Of course, this is the season for goldenrod. The feathery flowers seem to glow with the late afternoon sun.

And the seed pods of milkweed plants are bursting! Monarch butterflies need milkweed to survive. I recently read that the drought seriously affected milkweed in Iowa, causing our annual monarch butterfly migration to relocate elsewhere to find food and shelter.

I'm looking forward to more prairie walks in the next month, as fall ignites the landscape with color!

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