12 July 2011

Wisconsin Prairie at Riveredge Nature Center

Purple coneflowers bloom amongst the prairie grasses.

Traveling south to north along a route that once held vast prairies comes with an advantage. First, the daily high temps go from 104 degrees F to about 85 degrees. {Sigh.} Second, one also sees a succession of prairie plants maturing; it's a little like traveling through time. It's also an opportunity to see things a bit like the migrating birds and butterflies might see them. The further north they go, they come across plants that are just at the right stage of growth to suit their seed- or leaf-eating ways.

In Texas, the spring-blooming prairie plants are way done. They have gone to seed and stand brown awaiting for next year. Further north, the spring-blooming Kansas prairie plants were just at their end. Beebalm and a few others are still blooming, but the show is mostly over. The big yellow-blooming asters and grasses are just getting ready for their fall show.

In Wisconsin, especially along Lake Michigan where spring is always late and this year it was even later, the early prairie plants are in full form. John and I visited Riveredge Nature Center outside of Newburg, Wisconsin with his parents and had a great time checking out the native prairies in bloom. John's parents actually worked out here decades ago, helping to sort and plant seeds and convert this center from agricultural fields to prairie. They even spent some time cavorting with Lorrie Otto, the "Prairie Queen," and Andy Larsen, the center's director for several decades.

If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit. The 370-acre center features an array of native Wisconsin ecosystems, from river bottoms to tallgrass prairies. Here are a few photos from the day:

Prairie blooming with some kind of yellow aster, butterfly weed (Asclepius tuberosa), and pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida).

Beautiful, ghostlike pale purple coneflower, Echinacea pallida.
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), leadplant and pale purple coneflower, among others.
Happy prairie.
White wild indigo (Baptisia alba)
Butterfly weed (Asclepius tuberosa) was putting on quite a show.


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Absolutely lovely and magical. Thank you for sharing this rare view. I am a wildflower crack pot.

All joys,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Anonymous said...

It's beautiful, and it makes me sad 'cause I want to live in Wisconsin and not in Texas, but I can't. Laura