Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Prairie in Early Fall, and Some Vegetables

It's getting to be fall, and the summer prairie plants are winding down. The fall ones are getting started - fall is my favorite time of year: the light is starting to have a lovely angle, and the days are warm and nights are cool. Fall is also a beautiful time on the prairie - there are fewer things flowering but the grasses are maturing. It's mostly a time of golds and purples.

In the mornings now when I go to the barn, there are soft colors to the east:

It's the time of the Goldenrods - there are many types, and they are hard to identify - let me know if you think I've got any of these wrong. The most common - it's so vigorous that it can become a serious pest - is the Canada Goldenrod:

Then there's Ohio Goldenrod - a flattish, spread-out flower head and narrow, lance-shaped leaves:

This is Stiff Goldenrod - a large, compact flowerhead on a single stem with large leaves:

I'm not sure which of the Goldenrods this is, but it was very small, less than 1', and had distinctive leaves:

I believe this is one of the Grass-leaved Goldenrods:

Prairie Docks often have flowers that reach 7-10' in height - these had fallen down near the trail and make an interesting picture - I also managed by chance to get both of my mares in the background!

The grasses are really getting beautiful this time of year. Here's a Big Bluestem seedhead against the sky:

This is an Indian Grass seedhead - they glow a lovely gold in the lower fall light:

This is one of the Bonesets, just coming into flower:

These New England Asters are a lovely blueish/purple:

And here is a Blue Aster - very delicate and lovely:

I like the stems and leaves of the Tall Coreopsis - they are very architectural:

The Maximillian Sunflowers are in flower now that they've attained their full height - these plants were easily 8' tall:

The Brown-Eyed Susans are lovely and profuse in their flowering:

And here are a couple of bad guys - the first is Phragmites grass, with its pretty plumes, which is a serious invasive of wetlands - it spreads like wildfire and soon becomes a monoculture if you let it:

If you're an allergy sufferer, here's one for you - Giant Ragweed. There's a cousin called Lesser Ragweed which is shorter with finely cut leaves. It blooms at the same time as Goldenrods and for years many people thought Goldenrods were causing allergies, when in fact it was the Ragweeds with their inconspicuous flower heads that were the real cause of the problems.

And to finish up, here are some vegetables that I liked for their patterns and textures - all squash family members except for the okra, which a member of the Hibiscus family: on the left is Lady Godiva squash, which has seeds with no hulls designed for roasting (the flesh isn't very good to eat), on the right is a watermelon, and then two Black Beauty zucchinis and the okra. The watermelon was part of our organic farm share this week, and I grew the rest in my community garden plot:


  1. You are lucky to have so many beautiful wild flowers! Most of ours in the UK seem to have disappeared with intensive agriculture!

  2. I really liked the Asters. Brown-Eyed Susans have always been a favorite of mine.

  3. We have all of those too-but we also seem to have giant mosquitoes-I'm looking forward to the first frost and slightly cooler weather-great job on the veggies!

  4. Your knowledge of all those wildflowers amazes me! You would be a great person to go on a hike with (or a trail ride -- even better). And the veggies look beautiful and delicious. I am impressed!

  5. Some beautiful photographs Kate, we're also starting to get all our melons, pumpkins and squash in.

  6. Lovely photos Kate - thanks for sharing!

  7. Kate;

    I've become an avid blog reader....well, at least YOUR blog, and I always love the pics of wildflowers...even the goldenrod and ragweed (achoo !!) !

    At some point in the next month, once we get a few nights below 60 degrees, our warm season grasses will start to fizzle out, including both big and little bluestem. Fortunately, our cool season grasses are strong this year, thanks to all the rain and the relatively moderate summer. temperatures we/I have very much enjoyed. I've even seen a spring or two of bluegrass in the pastures...never seen ANY in Tennessee before this summer.

  8. I'm not sure where the goldenrod is around here as I haven't been out into the "fields beyond" much because of all the bugs! If posted a variety of nature photo blog it would include multitudinous speciies of mosquito. *sigh*

    Great pictures and a great tour. Love the artistic arrangement of veggies. Looks as if someone will be eating well.

  9. Gorgeous veggies! Lovely wildflowers, too - and I particularly like the shot of Dawn's muzzle. One of the softest things in the world, a horse's nose :)

  10. I wish I had more knowledge of the plants that grow around our farm. I guess I should pick up a native grasses/flowers/plants handbook and just start ID'ing them!

    Beautiful photos! I love this time of year, where everything seems to take on that darker, duskier hue. Spring flowers are vivid and shockingly bright...those fall colors are muted but to me, more beautiful.


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