The roadsides are a stage set in color as many different wildflowers border the edges of the pavement. Pretty white Queen Anne's Lace, Daisy fleabane, Blue chicory, Purple Nodding thistles and Crown vetch, Yellow Canada goldenrod and the many tall flower heads of poison parsnip. It's easy to see the beauty in all these colorful flowers even though they are not native plants to the area. The truth is, nearly all that is blooming now along the roadsides are alien plants that have been carelessly introduced to the countryside. Only one percent of one percent of the original native grassland plant species survive today having been forced out by a vast array of aggressive weeds.
The few remaining native wildflowers are still under attack from the roadside sprayers and mowers even though they are protected species. Our disrespect for these wildflowers continues giving way to our selfish needs of modern transportation.
Each year, from now until November I will collect a little seed from native wildflowers and grass to plant in a 7 acre meadow that has been set aside just for them. Here they will slowly spread and produce more seed that will be collected and used in other protect areas. It's always been one of my favorite ways to practice plant conservation and it feels good to see the rewards of my efforts as more colorful wildflowers appear each summer. To know there may still be a future for many of these plants after I'm gone is comforting to me even though I know the aggressive weeds are always waiting in the wings to take over.
It's nice to see a few butterflies on the wing this summer. They are like little flowers flying through the air and they look like they belong with the wildflowers in the meadow. Painted Ladies, Monarchs, Fritillaries, Yellow and Black Swallowtails and Skippers drift on the breeze over the top of the tall grass. I'm hoping that there will be more butterflies in August but it hasn't happened the past 3 or 4 years. I've worked hard this past decade to try to provide flowers that the butterflies and bees like, all I can do is hope that they will come if I'm just patient. Pretty flowers are a wonderful sight to behold but without butterflies to complement them, it's kinda like salt without pepper or pie without ice cream.
I've noticed some flocks of blackbirds who are already gathering together to roost at night in the tall grass along the river bottoms. It's one of those first signs that fall is in the not so distant future and reminds me that time marches on.
My dream, is that our all consuming will finally see the light to a healthy future and allow our children to learn how to identify and preserve the natural beauty around us. The future should always be left in their capable hands but first we must show the way.
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