April 14, 2019
Author: Phyllis Root
Photographer: Kelly Povo
Although last week’s snow dump is still slowly melting, we’re so ready for spring we set out Sunday in the hope that any flowers, but especially pasqueflowers, might be blooming. We’ve only ever seen pasqueflowers on two different hillsides near the Cannon River and once on a hillside in Central Park in Bloomington above Nine Mile Creek. Because the day was gloriously sunny and the snow melting fast, we headed out to the Bloomington hill prairie. After a snowy slog down a trail behind a church, we came out onto a goat prairie, so called because only goats are said to be able to climb the steep hillside (we had no trouble with it). Watching where we stepped as we made our way through dried grasses, we found first one, then two, then many pasqueflowers opening their purple petals to the sun. These flowers bloom even before their leaves grow, using energy stored in their roots. Silky hairs cover every surface, helping to hold in any heat. We’ve been told that many pasqueflowers cover this hill, so we’ll be back again to see even more of them in bloom.
Seeing pasqueflowers in bloom was a fine end to a weekend that included the launch at the Red Balloon Bookshop of Phyllis’s new picture book The Lost Forest, illustrated by Betsy Bowen. The book tells the story of the Lost Forty Scientific and Natural Area, so called because it was mistakenly surveyed as a lake in 1882 and overlooked by loggers for over seventy years. Not only do pines 300-400 years old tower in the Lost Forty, many spring wildflowers also bloom on the forest floor, including several orchids. Always one of our favorite places to go, we’re planning a June visit to see those native wildflowers blooming.
For today, we are gloriously happy to find pasqueflowers blooming on a hillside, not only because of their delicate beauty but also because seeing them, we know that despite any white stuff still cluttering up the ground, it must be spring.
We’ve included a map to help you find these pasqueflowers and here are a few tips to get to this location in Central Park, Bloomington:
Take 35W to 106thstreet, head west, go south on James Road (just past Humbolt) and just beyond Oak Grove Elementary School Forest sign you’ll see the entrance to Nine Mile Creek trail. Walk down the asphalt trail and follow the creek going south, cross the bridge and look for stairs on your right (just beyond mile 1.6). Go all the way up to the top of the ridge and the first park bench and follow the trail to the right. The pasqueflowers are in the open area slightly down the hill between the second and third park bench.
The easiest way is to go to Life Church at 2201 West 108th Street in Bloomington and park on the west side of the lot (farthest from the church where we have permission). Walk around the back of the church past the playground and follow the south ridge to the trail (don’t take the steps downhill). Follow the trail past the first park bench to the second park bench. The pasqueflowers are in the open area slightly down the hill between the second and third park bench. Use the faint path that loops out and back—pasqueflowers are delicate and some may be in bud underfoot when others are already blooming.