Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wild Indigo

There are few things more beautiful than a June field full of White Indigo growing several feet tall. This indigenous wild flower belongs with the pea family and blooms with your garden peas.

The plants stems are a blueish color that darkens with the coming autumn. A blue dye can be made out of the plant.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wild Berries

Just in time for summer...wild berries in abundance.

Life's great!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Nothing quite says summer than a field colored purplish-blue by an array of spiderwort.

Native to the Americas, these wildflowers are one of the few that were brought back to be cultatived in Europe.    

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Morning Deer

She was more interested in me and stood there for a long time; just looking. And as I passed by she continued to breakfast on choice plants.   

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Daisy Stowaway

Daisy Oxeye is a beautiful but non indigenous wildflower. Still this daisy variety is beneficial to butterflies and other insects. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

White Campion

White Campion's charm continues long after the flowers have bloomed out. This plant goes to seed by making a tiny pot to enclose its seed. I love going through an autumn field and finding the tiny pots still hanging on the stem.

The plant is not natural to the Americas; it was imported from other areas of the world; native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. It grows anywhere the ground has been disturbed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Delicious is the lay that sings The haunts of happy lovers, The path that leads them to the grove, The leafy grove that covers: And pity sanctifies the verse That paints, by strength of sorrow, The unconquerable strength of love;— Bear witness, rueful Yarrow!--W. Wordsworth

Yarrow was transplanted from across the ocean to the Americas. Sweet smelling and thought to have medicinal properties for everything from nose bleeds to melancholy, it is a favored flower of poets.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Crown Vetch

Crown Vetch gets a crown for being an invasive plant. It also gives off quite an odor that is permeating the air in Indiana of late. The smell is a little bit like nutmeg unless you get too big of a whiff then it's just down right putrid.

It is beautiful though, coloring roadsides, ditches, and hills a lavendar pink.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We're going to have the butterflies!

Back in February when I started some dill seeds, I had plans of making pickles.

In addition to the pickles I'm growing dozens of caterpillars. A swallowtail with very healthy eggs must have paid me a visit.

No problem; I've plenty of dill to share.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Leopard Frog

Recent rains, flooding, and the resulting large crop of insects have made a frog haven of late.

Yet, you need to be quick if you'd like to catch the Leopard Frog in his camouflage hunting in the weeds.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer Days

Nothing quite says summer than seeing a turtle lazing around in a pond.

I hope that all Dad's get the time to kick back in that hammock and enjoy their summer day like this guy here.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there !

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hairy Vetch

Such an ugly name for such a pretty wildflower. Hairy Vetch is a non-native wildflower that likes prairie type conditions. It is a member of the pea family, a family blooming all over, including gardens, during June.

The plant's stems are quite hairy and peas bind (vetch) nitrogen to soil, providing a natural fertilizer in soil enhancement; thus the ugly name for such a beautiful flower.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Danger around every flower

I love the smell of Yarrow. Even though it is a non-native plant, I can understand why someone would want it around.

This one had a customer the other day; a beetle of some sort. I had to refresh my memory on the differences between a beetle and a bug; it could have been one or the other in my opinion. Turns out it is a beetle since its wings meet in the middle of the back---ah yes---now I remember what that professor told me a couple of years ago in that naturalist class!

This beetle is headed for danger that is easier to see in this up close view; in the natural world a danger lurks behind every flower.     

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eastern Pondhawk

 Eastern Pondhawks are one of the most numerous dragonflies that we have in Indiana. They are never too far from water and one of their favorite meals is mosquitoes.

Eastern Pondhawks will follow you down a trail; not because they particularly like you but because you kick up their favorite snack.

I caught this gal lunching on another member of the insect family. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A True Hoosier Safari

In Indiana State Parks the trails are rated from Easy to Rugged. Rarely are the trails truly rugged in comparison to some of the trails in the Eastern or Western U.S. Rugged in Indiana's definition is a steep hill while the path is clean as a city street; albeit unpaved.

After a couple of weeks of no fishing, I was desperate to sink my line into any body of water. Unfortunately when I arrived at one of my favorite fishing spots I was greeted with "closed until further notice signs." A couple of weeks ago a wind of significant proportions had gone through the area. The wind didn't qualify as a tornado and didn't do much damage to human habitation other than take down power lines. But, wow, the damage that it did to trees was unbelievable. Hundreds of very old trees just uprooted in a mile wide, miles long area. This managed to close the public fishing area I occasionally go to fish and photograph wildlife.

Not usually one to break rules, I nevertheless felt that the rules were unfair in this instance. There are no power lines running next to the hiking paths. There were a number of downed trees; but they were already down. I could taste the fish. I decided to turn renegade for the day. (What would Sarah Palin do?)

The damage the storm did to the area was stupendous. Trees, sometimes three or four at a time were torn out of the ground, roots and all. I came across a dead fawn; crushed and broken. I wondered at the number of bird nests lost in the fallen trees. Even the mosquitoes seemed stunned.

But life goes on. Wildflowers don't wait to bloom. Dragonflies are still emerging. The herons are enjoying a golden time without human foot traffic. And the frogs are finally catching up with the mosquito population. Thousands of tiny frogs, no bigger than a pinkie fingernail, have formed; an army hopping against the bug population. Despite tragedy, nature marches on.      


Monday, June 13, 2011

Wild Berries

Aren't these berry blossoms beautiful? You can almost make out the hint of a berry in the center of every flower.

From the abundance of blossoms this year, it should be a great year to make some wild berry jam. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Overnight Heart-break

Sunset Hill Farm Park has seen a number of  goslings  raised over the years. Two years ago there was a long string of goslings swimming on the pond between two parents. We watched them grow throughout the summer until the fall when they took off for other places.

This year there are just a couple of goslings being raised, making them more precious as their young parents watch carefully over them; teaching them to be wary of dangers and where to find the choice bits to eat.

Because there are only a couple of tiny ones to watch grow, it is even so much sadder to find that one of them was lost in a battle of nature against some unknown entity last night. The struggle must have been great, even the parents lost feathers but could not win the battle. In the end the gosling was lost. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Explosion of Parsnip

A wonder of nature--a parsnip ready to bloom. Out of a tiny wrapping, looking like a tamale's goodness wrapped in a leafy cover, burst thousands of tiny blossoms.

Sharing  a family with carrots and the poison of Hemlock, the parsnip, growing taller than a man in a couple of months, is an extraordinary plant.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blue Flag

"Holds Heaven not some cranny, Lord,
For a flower so tall and blue?"

All's well and all's well!
Gay the lights of Heaven show!
In some moist and Heavenly place
We will set it out to grow.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Daisies--Oxeye vs Fleabane

Most lovers of Daisies go for the big Daisy Oxeye variety and rip the tiny Daisy Fleabanes, shown here, out of gardens like a nasty weed.

But the Daisy Fleabane is the natural wildflower to prairies; Oxeyes are the import. Because the Fleabane is native, it is beneficial to more of the native species of insects, including butterflies. It also blooms longer into the season than your typical Oxeye

A Daisy, just as sweet and blooming now in a field near you.   

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Turtle Eggs

You would think this little gal would have picked an easier, safer place to lay her eggs. But she took up the challenge of digging through all those grass roots to make her precious deposit right in the middle of the lawn at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

The true miracle will be that any of those eggs actually survive after a weekend of celebrating wildlife, complete with nachos and fireworks at the park.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly

It took me a some time to identify my first Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly. I kept searching for something named emerald or green, but they're named for the black wing color.

They flutter around shady areas of streams where they catch insects like mosquitoes. Go for it little guy!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Puddle Life

An unassuming service road used by Indiana Dunes and National Park Staff, traversed on foot by hundreds of hikers and joggers and full of life this year, same as last.

Many people drive through or walk past these puddles every day without looking down. What they would find on closer examination is an occasional frog, thousands of tadpoles, mayfly, damsel fly, and dragonfly larva.

Puddles full of life.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mr. Toad

There are no shortage of insects this year.

This toad was sitting in the sun in the middle of a path, lazily feasting on the bonanza that flew by.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Growing Lupines and Butterflies

The Indiana Dunes are purple this time of year. They are covered with Lupines, a flower of particular importance to an endangered species of butterfly, the Karner Blue, around the Great Lakes.

Growing Lupines is a project in and around the area of the Great Lakes. The butterflies need a continuous corridor in order to mate, grow and thrive; sporadic groups of plants just don't help in the continuance of this endangered butterfly.

Knowing how important the abundance of Lupines is, makes the wildflower display particularly beautiful--don't you think?   

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Thank you

I discovered this poem the other day and it was the same day I had spent an hour or two at the Indiana Dunes searching out the wildflowers. It reflects my feelings exactly:

 i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
e.e. cummings