To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee
One clover and a bee,
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.
The past two weeks have been busy ones with little free time for blog reading or keeping up with the garden. But it's been a good "busy," so I am not complaining. One of those busy days was spent with Beckie last week when we took advantage of her day off from work to visit two places we have been wanting to see for awhile.
Our first stop of the morning was at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana, Illinois where approximately 30 acres are devoted to a prairie restoration area pictured above. With a plentiful supply of clover and bees, no "revery" was necessary to conjure up the sight of the tallgrass prairie--it lay in plain view before us.
Clumps of native river birch shaded some areas, but most of the prairie restoration project was in full sun, the perfect place for a host of native plants.
Naturally, I was drawn to the purple coneflowers, and if you click to enlarge this photo, you'll see I wasn't the only visitor drawn to these tall natives.
The plants here are not labelled, so it is up to the visitor to identify them for herself. I'm not sure, but these coneflowers closely resemble the original Prairie Coneflowers, Echinacea pallida.
It was very easy to identify this milkweed, although not which particular species it belongs to. It is likely the Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, because most of these specimens were at least five feet tall.
Are you impressed by my ability to give the Latin botanical names here?:) Well, don't be--I took along a handy guidebook of Illinois wildflowers checked out from the local library to help in the identification. Beckie and I consulted it often to help us identify several of the species we didn't know. Without the book we would never have been able to identify this native, Culver's Root, Veronicastrum virginicum.
Nor would we have known the specific name for this monarda--Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa.
There is no planting scheme here; all the natives happily mingle with each other.
Finally, I have a name for this plant--Daisy Fleabane, Erigeron strigosus, which also grows abundantly around our farm. Or is it False Aster, Boltonia asteroides that I have on the farm?? Even with my handy guide, Beckie and I couldn't identify every plant we saw.
This tall plant remains a mystery to us. I thought it might be ironweed, but without any blooms, it's hard for me to tell.
We also weren't sure about this dainty lavender bloom. Any ideas?
The compass plant, however, is easy to recognize. Rising above the prairie field, it reaches heights of 8 feet or more.
When it comes to other yellow flowers, though, there are so many possibilities. These are black-eyed Susans, or are they brown-eyed Susans??
This looks like some type of Helenium; then again, it might be a type of Helianthus. Beckie and I gave up trying to compare the several pages of yellow wildflowers in the guide to the flowers in front of us and just enjoyed the sights.
After an hour of sensory stimulation in the prairie park, we hit the road and traveled through the countryside to find our main destination of the day: 5 Acre Daylily Farm. Neither of us had ever visited a daylily farm before, so this was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.
Beckie has already posted about our visit, but one thing she neglected to mention was that while we were there she was asked for an interview by a local news reporter/journalism instructor. You can check out the end result by visiting the online version of our local newspaper; on the right sidebar click on "Audio Slide Show: Devoted to Daylilies." If you do check this out, please be advised that in the photo with the side view of me, that is NOT a chocolate bar I am stuffing in my mouth. We had missed lunch, and I was trying to re-energize with a granola bar. After seeing this photo, I will definitely be checking out the weight loss book recommended by Carolyn Gail:)
After over an hour of roaming through the fields and oohing and aahing, I hit the wall--is there such a thing as daylily overload?? It was time to make some hard decisions about our purchases. I had come prepared with a list of choices from 5 Acre's website, but I had to whittle this down to fit my budget. I purchased "Little Grapette" after reading glowing recommendations for it from many of you.
My other choices, though, were determined by my own very scientific method. Number 1, is it pretty? "Tangerine Rose Ruffles" fit that bill, and a fan was dug up to take home.
So did "Moonlight Serenade," still blooming here in my shade garden. My other criteria for selection was . . . a catchy name. "Prairie Blue Eyes" was chosen for obvious reasons, and what English teacher could pass up "Canterbury Tales"? Neither was still in bloom, so no photos available here. "Tennyson" was a little pricey, but "Divine Comedy" and "Romeo Lies Bleeding" might just find their way here next summer.
Before leaving, though, the owner enticed us with one more offer. As daylily breeders, they create new hybrids each year. At the end of the season, some are selected to be propagated next year, but the nameless leftovers are sold off for $15 a clump. That meant Beckie and I could easily divide and share these unique lilies and give them whatever name we chose. Beckie has appropriately named hers "Dragonfly Corner" and already shared a large fan with me.
My choice has been temporarily planted in the shade garden until I can create a new flowerbed just for daylilies. It is also still nameless, though I am thinking of calling it "Prairie Sunrise"--what do you think?
Beckie also admired this large orange and yellow beauty, and I purchased this to give to her in memory of my goddaughter Andrea. I know it will cast a special light in the Dragonfly Corner garden.
All in all, it was a wonderful day to stimulate the senses and nourish the soul, not to mention spending it in the company of a very dear friend.
For more Muse Day posts, please visit our hostess, Carolyn Gail of Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.