By Greg Lecker
So much yellow! That is my recent observation while travelling around the Arboretum’s natural areas and even when studying the 2014 planting color palette (and orange too!) Prairie and savannah areas are awash with the many native “sunflower” species – rosin weed, prairie dock, Jerusalem artichoke – but also, and especially with goldenrods. Sunny areas now bloom with the common showy goldenrod, and also stiff goldenrod.
Even woodlands are showing yellow at the edges, and not just on the intricate carpet underfoot. Trees foliage is beginning to show yellow, and even some orange – fitting, I suppose, since today is September 1! The fading purplish-rose of Joe-Pye Weed complements the yellow hue of sunflowers.
Besides the sunflowers at woodland edges, the happy zig-zag goldenrod is beginning to bloom in the woodland – the rare goldenrod that tolerates shade – though not the rabbits in my garden. The combination of plentiful food as well as raptors, foxes, and coyotes must distract Arboretum cottontails from devouring one of my favorite plants. In my yard, discerning bunnies distinguish between the nearly identical new foliage of emerging white snakeroot and zig-zag goldenrod. Speaking of spring, I can’t believe that I’m in the same woodland (Grace Dayton Wildflower Garden) I toured three months ago. Short, wind-tousled ephemerals dotted amongst sun-lit brown soil and forest duff have been replaced with stocky foliage that is cool, dark, and green.
Even around Green Heron pond, yellow jewelweed, as well as its orange colored relative are painted with the yellow-orange color scheme. A Spring Peeper Meadow spur boardwalk visit is cut short by the approaching 8 pm closing time. I quicken my pace, stepping carefully on the wood decking made slick by driving rains that accompanied my evening drive to the Arboretum.
Staying as late as possible, I am rewarded by skies that are filled with yellow, orange, red, violet, and even a faint rainbow (following rain Saturday evening).
Walking around Green Heron Pond, I curve northward just below the conifer garden and the original Arboretum building. There, beside the duckweed pond, Canada Geese are bedding down for the evening, their heads tucked next to their body. Nature serenades with a murmuring evensong.
Don’t delay your visit to the Arboretum and to any natural area. Prairies and savannahs are at peak bloom. Thanks to bountiful rain, grasses have not been this tall in my 10-year memory of studying natural areas.
Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.