Today was a lovely morning, despite getting only twenty minutes of sleep. The birds were singing close by as I walked, cheerful bright songs and very loud! Makes a person wonder; if all these birds hang out on the Bluff all summer or year long, can they get so used to a person walking at about the same time of day they they stay nearby? Or is the singing a warning to me, to stay away from their territory?
It’s a funny thing, to realize that even though the greatest heat and humidity at the height of summer are yet to come, the year is already winding down. In a month or three the nights will be longer and cooler, and the hills will be colorful for a far different reason than fresh blooming flowers!
But for now, the colors are many and varied and interesting, changing every day. I’ve been watching several new ones, waiting for them to bloom completely enough to identify them.
This little beauty is the northern primrose. On the way back this morning, I stopped by the little cluster of them near the intersection of the shortcut and the prairie trail. I got there just in time to see a pair of spiders duking it out over one of the blooms. Not really sure what they were fighting about, but they were great to watch!
The northern evening primrose (Oenothera parviflora – not to be confused with Primula borealis, which only grows in Alaska and the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut of Canada) blooms from late June to early October. It’s very similar to the Common Evening Primrose; the key difference is a knob or a ridge just below the tip of the sepal (the green leafy petal that conceals the flower before it blooms). It’s a biennial native, and grows well in dry sandy or gravelly soil under the full sun – like parts of Barn Bluff!
And these pretties are – I believe – the Creeping Bellflower, (Campanula rapunculoides). The purple is intense and noticeable, and they’re interesting to watch flower. Like the Vervain, they seem to start from the bottom of the stem and bloom upward. But they’re actually an invasive non-native. They came from Europe originally, and escape from cultivation pretty easily, spreading from seed (maybe as many as 15,000 per plant!) and from root. Even if you’re digging them out, any missed root will sprout a new plant, and seeds can stay dormant for years before sprouting.
Given what the lower trail looks like right now, I do not doubt a bit that they spread and root themselves readily; they’re all over the place. Not so much up on the prairie area, though, and I kind of wonder why. According to my research, they like full shade, full sun, and thrive in dry or wet soils – so why do they grow only next to the South Trail?
Of course, they probably just need a little time. Entirely possible they’ll invade the prairie eventually.