Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1

October 1:  Readers, you haven't heard from me because I've been out in the prairies and gardens.  I hope you have enjoyed nature, too.  The prairies are beautiful even now (especially that gem I worked so hard to save)!

Source: Frank Mayfield (gmayfield10)/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Report on the May 12 field trip: Twenty-five Wisconsinites car-pooled down to Peacock/James Woodworth Prairie.  We entered the Nature Center to find a wall full of outstanding photography of the prairie flowers provided by photographer/author, Frank Mayfield.  He is continually taking pictures of prairie life, giving showings of his wonderful photographs, and composing yet more books about what he sees on the James Woodworth.  We were also greeted by Charlotte Adelman with her new book, "Native Alternatives to Non-Native Flowers and Plants"...this for all you gardeners out there.

Dr. Dennis Nyberg, Curator, greeted us and took us on a tour of the Prairie.  To our delight, we found the white lady slippers among other flora in bloom.  Several of the group had never seen how lush a virgin prairie can be.  Just by inspecting it, we learned a lot.

After a brown-bag lunch we drove up Milwaukee Road about four miles to The Prairie Grove.  It is the Kennicott place that I wrote about in my book, and it is now a National Heritage site with much history.  Extensive natural areas surround what are now public environmental education buildings.  The efforts to return some places to prairie that used to be there revealed to us once again how important and valuable the James Woodworth Prairie is for us all.

Our final tour of the day in Glenview was four miles to the Kent Fuller Air Station Prairie, thirty-five acres that remains of Dr. William Beecher's Prairie that I also mention in my book.  Yes, circumstances change.  Now the Village of Glenview Park Board is proud of its support of this (AND The Grove)!  And now we can visit the energy-efficient Evelyn Pease Tyner Interpretation Center and look over the expanse that invites birds, bees, and butterflies.

You might ask what good does saving these areas do for people. (1) The public and private schools now have curriculum and field trips to these places so future generations may understand the importance of their environment.  (2) Scientists may study the interconnected webs of life and the possible and yet undiscovered gifts of resources.  (3) The public can assimilate the unique and aesthetic beauty of natural areas.  (4) Gardeners can learn about the hardiness of a whole array of native plants and expand their visions beyond petunias.

Visiting Iowa:  In June I visited a friend in Decorah, Iowa.  This community has a Community Prairie!  My friend took me to the Hayden Prairie west of there.  I had heard much about it, and now I finally could see this 200-acre site that was saved in 1947.  The highlight was finding a whole colony of Turk's cap lilies in bloom.

My gardens:  Drought is no stranger to prairies, and this year we had a drought.  My butterfly weed became a mass of orange, my bottle gentians spread to new places in the garden, and now the asters are a froth of purple, white, and blue.

Presentations:  Life is short.  I'm willing to give presentations about The Importance of Saving Natural Areas, especially to people who have not, but would like to become acquainted with their environment.  Contact me.