We are closing in on the end of September, close to the end of wildflower searching season, but the prairie is far from done. On a glorious afternoon we headed down to Hyland Lake Park Reserve to see what was still in bloom from a visit a few weeks ago and found a brilliance of asters–pink, purple, white, blue all abuzz with bees. Goldenrod, too, some plumes with a dozen or more pollinators on them: bumblebees, honeybees, butterflies.
Along the path through the prairie Indian grass and big bluestem waved golden in the prairie breeze, a cloud of dragonflies rose up in front of us, and down in the grasses we discovered both bottle gentians and also yellow gentians, almost done blooming. Although we didn’t see any bumblebees fighting their way into these gentians, the bees are these flowers’ primary pollinators: no other bees are big enough to pry their way in and out of the closed blossoms.
The flowers we’d seen blooming a few weeks before—monarda, coneflower, spotted Joe-pye weed, prairie onion, butterfly-weed, great blue lobelia, round-headed bush clover– were mostly gone to seed. Fall is ahead, and winter follows, but there are still plenty of days worth of wildflower watching to do. The bees and butterflies appreciate the late-season blooms.
And so do we.