Monday, August 1, 2016

A Day in the Prairie

Like most of you, I don't quilt all the time.  My other passion is exploring natural areas.
A couple years ago, I joined a group of like-minded folks here in Ohio who love our natural spaces and work hard to protect them by supporting the skeleton state staff of the Natural Areas and Preserves section of Ohio's Department of Natural Resources.
This past Saturday, a large group of us enjoyed a warm sunny visit to the founder's beautiful 20 acre prairie in central Ohio.  Twenty years ago, he purchased a fifty-plus acre farm and began to convert the abandoned fields into a showcase for native plants.
As one walks past the small barn, a vista opens up before your eyes of native grasses and blooming plants that is breath taking. 
Wide mown paths allow one to wander around and through the grasses that tower overhead.  The paths are lines with a variety of flowering prairie species which are visited by hummingbirds and dozen of species of bees and butterflies during the course of the growing season.
I took two walks around the entire prairie -- the first time with a guided group for a refresher on the names of the plants.  The tallest plants in this picture are prairie dock -- their rhubarb size leaves are hidden in the tall grasses but the golden flowers wave high above at 7 and 8 feet.
The owner of the prairie includes native plants from around Ohio such as this royal catchfly which is commonly red, but Adams county has a small population of a salmon variety.
This gray-headed coneflower is an easy species to grow and my own specimens of it attract lots of insects.  This dragonfly (a common whitetail) is likely looking for other insects rather than nectar. 
Two ponds have been incorporated into the landscape and the native hibiscus had just started to bloom along the edges.
After lunch, I returned to the prairie for a solitary walk to enjoy the sights and sounds without any narration from other admirers.
There were more butterflies about than earlier and this red-spotted purple gave me a run for my money but I did manage to get two or three "not-blurry" photos of him.
This meadow fritillary was one of the reasons the purple was constantly moving around -- it seemed like the purple was chasing the fritillary away, protecting a section of the mowed path.
As I walked I reviewed the names I learned in the morning in hopes that I'll remember them on a future prairie visit -- this is downy (or hairy) sunflower -- facing the sun of course!
The rattlesnake master (on the left) is another one I grow here in my garden, but the Virginia mountain mint (on the right) was new to me.  There was a viceroy butterfly fiercely patrolling this patch but he eluded my camera.
The mix of purple coneflower (front), native monarda (center) and gray-headed coneflower (back) near the end of my second trip around the prairie had attracted a beautiful and rare (to me) butterfly.
The giant swallowtail -- 50% larger than other swallowtail species -- perhaps the size of a hummingbird.  This one was freshly emerged with no signs of wear on his wings.
What a lovely way to spend a summer day!
If you are interested in learning more about ONAPA, you can visit their website HERE.
They sponsor many work projects to help preserve unique Ohio natural areas as well as enjoying trips to explore and learn more about the flora of Ohio.
If you join, perhaps we'll meet face to face one of these days!
Mary Huey



  1. WOW - that is a spectacular place. That founder was very far seeing. A big group! Did you have a potluck to round out the day? So lucky are you.

  2. Fascinating! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful day.