Friday, May 15, 2015

A gift

Midget phlox (Phlox gracilis), blooming in the prairie...

I have seen these tiny annual flowers in the middle of our property for years, pretty little pink flowers, mostly, though there are white ones, too...

They are the sort of tiny plants you can see all over native Palouse prairie remnants, but not in the more cultivated parts of my prairie restoration effort.  Until yesterday, I had not identified them, but they seemed so delicate and sweet that I assumed they must be native.  I pulled out my handy field guide last night, and there they were--I wouldn't have guessed that they were phlox of some kind.  Along with another annual, Blue-eyed Mary, which I have written about previously, I have been able to save them from my weed control efforts and it is an inspiration to see them coming back in the second-year prairie.  They are plentiful enough that I hope they spread their seeds throughout the property...Though you can't buy these sorts of plants from any supplier, I suspect their role in the prairie ecosystem is important, since they fill in and keep invasive species out, and they appear to react with the soil, making it more receptive to other native plants.  It seems like such a gift for Nature to plant them for me!

It has been awhile since I posted a shot of the five-year-old prairie restoration area in the northern part of the property.  Not much blooming there that you can see at the moment (the Midget phlox turns up south of this view), but it is healthy and thriving...There are actually quite a lot of nine-leaf lomatium there and other good things, but they get lost amongst all that Idaho fescue.

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