Posts Tagged ‘coneflowers’

Following a rather busy June and early July, I decided to make the most of some much appreciated down time to just be me.

This, of course, translates easily into me wandering off to explore nature.

So it was on an overcast Saturday afternoon that the I opted for a walk at the Dean Nature Sanctuary in Oak Brook.

The sanctuary is a wildlife habitat – hidden in plain view. It was through the generous endowment of one of the early founding residents of Oak Brook, Dorothy Dean. With the assistance of the Conservation Foundation, Dorothy Dean generously donated this expanse of land to the Oak Brook Park District.

The story of this sanctuary is an interesting history lesson as well as a unique example of land preservation and stewardship. It also provides insight into the personality and foresight of Dorothy Dean, who used the advance of the Illinois Tollway system to her – and now our – advantage and resulted in the large pond at the site which is a refuge to waterfowl and wildlife. The story is rendered with more perfection than I can do here on my little blog. I encourage you to click on the link below to learn more.

Under the threat of rain, I parked the car, and scurried to one of the paths to make a quick loop around the pond and to rejoice in midst of a riot of prairie bloom! Cone flowers and bergamot, Culver’s root and brown-eyed Susan were bending in the breeze – or stretching toward sunlight, while a

 pair of mourning doves shared a branch high atop of tree.

As I walked, I noticed plant stems bending ever-so-slowly to the will of pollinators; bees and wasps and butterflies spreading the secrets of summer. From stem-to-stem they worked their way among the blooms of the sanctuary, while a heron stalked the edge of the pond and red-winged blackbirds taunted each other.










While I often walk the paths of the Dean Nature Sanctuary, it seemed particularly special for me on Saturday afternoon. I enjoyed getting some exercise, clearing my mind, and observing the living things surrounding me. A dog was walking its master while a gaggle of pre-teen girls passed by, giggling at something on one of their phones. Something splashed loudly in the pond and a hawk circled overhead, looking for dinner, I supposed. I needed to head home to do the same so headed to my car feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Later, at home, checking out the website for the Dean Nature Sanctuary, a visual caught my eye. Oh! Bee Parks Honey. The Oak Brook Park District was selling honey harvested from the Dean Nature Sanctuary! I prefer to use local honey whenever I can, as you may recall, and dug a little deeper into the site. I sent an email to the Park District, and promptly received a very nice response thanking me for my inquiry and informing me that I could buy the honey at the park district office. All honey money (my term) will be used to support their universal playground project. I wish them well in this endeavor. Parks that are accessible to everyone benefit all of us.

Guess where I went the next afternoon?





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Cone Heads

Did you ever really look at the center of Echinacea, aka coneflowers?

Click on to enlarge the coneflower.

Do you see all the little stars at intervals around the last row? I never really noticed them before but there they were when I uploaded the picture. They are so evenly placed and, like stars twinkling in the sky, they draw attention.  Are they the stigma? I think they are; those little sticky, starry wonders where pollination occurs.

Isn’t it amazing how we can look at something hundreds of times and then suddenly we notice a treasue we haven’t seen there before? We have coneflowers about to open in our garden. I wonder how many stars I will find when they awaken.

How about you? Any stars of wonder in your life right now?

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I know. I need to go out into the garden, pull some overly exuberant weeds, and snip, snip, snip those dead heads hanging on to summer’s earlier glory. I know I need to – and yet I resist. Just walking out to the mailbox has me flailing my arms and swatting my face in a wild waltz of West Nile avoidance. Deadheading the garden means bug spray; bug spray with deet and the cloying, chemical smell of it all. I attract mosquitos. They wait for me, a well armed militia, at the back door, on the deck, under the arbor, up my nose, and even in my sleep. “Hey guys, here she is. You advance from the rear, I’ll get her front.”

It is even worse when I wear a skirt!

So, the daisies languish, their flower heads now spent and withered. The Salvia are sulking, the ferns fretting, and the hostas are pouting. The brown eyed Susans – now, they have had the decency to keep up appearances – and the cone flowers . . .

. . . the coneflowers are a jumble with some brave hangers-on whose colors are brilliant in their last hurrah. The monarchs and swallowtail flutter about them as the crickets strum, a prelude to autumn, the cicadas moan and these dog days of summer persist.

I should deadhead. I know. I thought this aloud as I drove down the drive yesterday afternoon. I always look at the island of flowers to see what is happening and yesterday a lot was happening. It WAS a happening. I became a flower child as I drove around the plantings in my mocha colored VW and the Mamas and the Papas came to mind. There they were, little yellow goldfinches with their black markings and pale beaks, flitting about and singing with glee as they  landed on branches that bent with respect and they perched upon coneflowers,  partaking in a midday meal. We see goldfinch all the time on the feeder hanging just off of our deck, but this is the first time I have come to find them in our garden with such a colorful display and vigor as they pecked at the seeds of the coneflowers.

I stopped the car for no less than five minutes and watched one well-attired chap not three feet away as he feasted on the seed head, cracking the hard coverings and eating with abandon under the hot August sun.

I think I will wait for another day to deadhead and just enjoy the peaceful setting that has come my way here on the cutoff.

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