I’ve done quite a lot of walking this year, partly due to Covid and partly to seek the beauty that surrounds me every day. Many times those walks have led me to the woods. There’s just something so appealing about walking through towering trees and realizing the history that must have been occurring when they were just saplings. But also I’ve found meadows can be just as appealing in a very different way.
Like this pollinator meadow at Caesar Creek State Park. This view made me stop in my tracks to admire it’s magnificent color. Quiet. Calm. Peaceful. The bees loved it. And so did I.
Not too long ago I visited Wolf Run Regional Park which is just east of Mt. Vernon, Ohio. It’s on about 288 acres with 10 miles of trail that lead through woodland, open field and meadow – quite a nice combination. The sun was shining the day I visited though most of summer’s wildflowers were winding down.
Big blue stem and Indian grass were scattered about the area, but my eye was caught more often by the handful of wildflowers that were still blooming, like Gray-headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata). They were still hanging in there producing just a few more blooms. It’s the end of the season, but it’s encouraging to know these are perennials and they will be blooming here again next year.
But not to worry, some birds (like this sparrow) enjoy those Gray-headed Coneflower seeds immensely. The birds are probably very pleased these flower heads have dried.
Many times I don’t know the name of something I find fascinating. But that’s okay too because I find when I’m just strictly focused on naming something I may not really SEE the beauty before me. Here’s an example. I’m not sure what this flowering plant is, but take a good look at the close up photo. See the water droplets on it sparkling like little pearls? Isn’t that stunning?
And here’s a little treasure I nearly walked on. A small wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), blooming in the grass near the edge of the trail. A gift of nature waiting to be seen and admired.
Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy the many types of asters, milkweed and goldenrod. Did you realize there are more than 20 species of goldenrod in Ohio? I feel guilty in admitting I didn’t have a clue until now. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has a fantastic field guide, Goldenrods of Northeast Ohio, that does an exceptional job of identification and includes a dichotomous key to assist (https://www.cmnh.org/goldenrods).
Here’s another member of the aster family that is one of my favorites, Ironweed (Veronia). It can be about 6 foot tall or more and has the most brilliant purple flowers. You’ll see it in many fields this time of year. It’s a wonderful source of nectar for butterflies and bees.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a walk in the meadow with me. Exploring a meadow in the early morning when the temperature is crisp, there’s few people about and there’s glistening dew sparkling on the flowers – you just can’t beat that. I hope you find time to explore a meadow soon.
Until next time, keep exploring nature up close.