Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thursday Thirteen 342: An (Un)guided Walk

Sunday, Jul 13, 2014

Pisces Daily Horoscope
You shouldn't try to go it alone today — things are too complicated for that. Teamwork is easier to make work than usual, even if your people are recalcitrant or tied up with internal conflict.

This is kind of funny, considering the guided walk that wasn't. I don't know about recalcitrant or internal conflict, but teamwork was certainly the word of the day Sunday afternoon, when I decided to go on the guided walk at Grady Tract/UW Arboretum. I like to go on these occasionally to refresh my memory and learn about new-to-me plants.

I was fifteen minutes early, with others arriving soon after. By ten past the hour, a naturalist had yet to show, which is unusual as they're usually one of the first to arrive. By quarter after, someone suggested we go on our own, seeing as it was a small group. One couple had never been, another couple had not been there in three years except to ski, and the rest of us have been on the guided walks many times before. Naturally, the one weekend when a naturalist fails to show, all of us who own the UW Prairie Plants book . . . leave our books at home. In fact, I had been looking up something in mine just prior to walking up there. Figures, right?

So, about twenty minutes after the walk was to begin, our small group set off through the woods — stopping maybe once, as opposed to the half dozen times we would have stopped with a guide. We pointed out what we saw as we walked, such as the glacial kettle hole and the narrow trail crossing it choked by poison ivy (being a natural species, they do not eradicate poison ivy).

Our destinations were Grady Knoll and Greene Prairie. Three weeks ago, the knoll was blanketed in pink goat's-rue. The predominate color now is purple, as both lead plant and wild bergamot are in full bloom — and there is a plethora of both. There is also the occasional orange of butterfly-weed, the silver of sage, and the yellow of black-eyed susans and a few late-blooming puccoons. There was another yellow flower on the verge of blooming, the name of which none of us could remember. I kept wanting to say foxglove, as I know it also grows on Grady Knoll in summer, but that did not seem right. The name was on the tip of my tongue all afternoon. Naturally, it came to me as soon as I got home — primrose. Sigh.

My camera battery started indicating low battery on my walk up there, and while I was hoping it would make it through the day, it held out until we reached Greene Prairie. Which prompted my return Monday after work, to photograph what I'd missed the day before, before it disappeared. There is a saying here that if you return every two weeks, you'll see something different. Similarly, what is blooming today may not be there tomorrow, or a week later.

Two weeks ago the prairie was awash in white, as tall beard-tongue and indigo were in bloom. There is still some indigo, but beard-tongue has almost completely died out. Now, wild bergamot and lead-plant are as prolific here as up on the knoll, with gay-feathers also on the verge of blooming. There is also a riot of yellow coreopsis and St. John's Wort. We also saw mountain mint, blue vervain, rattle snake master, prairie dock, a few compass plants (they have not done as well this year — apparently they like dryer conditions than we have seen), culver's root, spreading dogbane, goldenrod and many other familiar plants.

As we wandered through Greene Prairie, we made quite a find — a rare prairie white fringed orchid. Take that, naturalist who failed to show up! We backtracked a bit to see if there were others, but did not see any. Doesn't mean they aren't there, just that they are not visible from the trail. One member of our group whipped out his phone, took a photo of it and emailed it to a couple of Arboretum naturalists he knew. These orchids are an endangered species, so they will want to document it.

Returning to the main entrance, we discovered a young mulberry tree in among the Evjue Pines that I don't recall seeing before. Not far past it, I found a small patch of Deadly Nightshade. Although the book says it grows throughout the Arboretum, this was the first time I've actually seen it inside the Arb, though I have seen plenty along the nearby bike path. And yes, it really is poisonous.

Here are a few of the many flowering plants seen on our self-guided walk, or on my return visit Monday afternoon.

Dotted Horsemint — I actually saw this Monday evening,
when I took a different route to the Knoll.

Bouncing Bet — seen by the Dotted Horsemint


Black-Eyed Susan


Common Yarrow is distinuishable by its feathery green leaves

Blue Vervain

Primrose, photographed Monday — had they been in bloom on Sunday,
I might have come up with the name as soon as we saw them.

Prairie White Fringe Orchid — a Wisconsin Endangered and
Federally Threatened Species

Common St. John's-Wort

A pair of Sandhill Cranes has taken up residence on Greene Prairie

Rain-kissed Phlox — taken on Monday's return trip, after a brief rain shower

Mountain Mint

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen


colleen said...

I'd love to take a guided flower walk. I especially like that first shot. Glad you got to go back.

Heather said...

Thanks, Colleen -- I'm glad I was able to get back up there the next day, and that I found the dotted horsemint. It's such a fun(ny)-looking plant, isn't it?

Ron. said...

Too bad I can't smell this blog. Thanks for bringing us along.

Paige Tyler said...

Beautiful flowers! And I love the cranes!


My TT ia at

Heather said...

Ron: Aw, thanks - I wish you could smell some of these as well. The mints especially. *VBG*

Heather said...

Paige: Thank you. The cranes were an unexpected surprise - it's not uncommon to see them at Greene Prairie in early spring, but I've never seen them there in summer. Of course, we've had a lot of rain the last couple months. ☺

Mia Celeste said...

Oh, what pretty flowers. I really like the black-eyed Susan.

Alice Audrey said...

It's funny that primrose should come up on your walk. The Girl made a fuss over the symbolism/ "meaning" of primrose yesterday when she ran across something about it on the internet. She's thinking of Prim from The Hunger Games.

CountryDew said...

These are lovely shots.

Jennifer Leeland said...

Absolutely beautiful! I love the White Prairie orchid!

Heather said...

Thanks, Mia! They do add a bit of color to the wooded trails.

Heather said...

Alice: Okay, I had to look up what primrose symbolizes in the language of flowers. The Girl has a problem with telling someone "I can't live without you"? Apparently it's not only edible but tastes like lettuce.

Heather said...

Anita: Thank you! ☺

Heather said...

Jennifer: Isn't that a pretty (as well as exotic-looking) orchid?

Forgetfulone said...

Oh my! Beautiful shots!

Heather said...

Thank you! ☺