Thursday, June 30, 2011

Opening Soon

On a recent evening, I was prowling around in the yard, stalking flowers to photograph and discovered this well-whiskered one poised to perform an opening act in the very near future:

June 28th (2)It is some sort of daisy-type flower originating in that assorted package of seeds I scattered a couple of years ago.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Common Milkweed

Hey, exciting news---the milkweeds are starting to bloom!  Currently, our roadside ditch is loaded with these rosy pink blossoms of the Common Milkweed:June 25 (14)  On the verge of blooming very soon are the Swamp Milkweed and here is a preview of them:

June 27 (22)   

For most of my life, I figured there was only one kind of milkweed, the one known as Common Milkweed, though I knew it simply as “milkweed”.  Then, a few years ago I began to take an interest in wildflowers and bought a couple of wildflower identification books which led to my learning that there are actually several types of milkweed.  Who would have thought???

When I was a kid, I was so mean---I’d find a milkweed plant and break its stem just to see the white liquid ooze out.  It reminded me of Elmer’s Glue and I think I even tried to glue something together with it once.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Orange Lily

These bright orange lilies recently started blooming in the dooryard and every time I walk out of the house---whether morning, afternoon, or evening---it seems I see them in a new light.

June 22 (3) cropped Then, like the insane person that I am, I often rush back into the house, grab my camera and dash back outdoors to snap more photos.  This one was taken on a cloudy morning, offering just the right amount of light for photographing a colorful flower.  No sunshiny glare was there, thus no photo editing necessary.  In the background is a hanging basket of purple lobelia. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Effigy Mounds Wrap-up

Here’s one final look at various sights from my recent day trip to Effigy Mounds National Monument in northeast Iowa. 

This first photo looks south from Eagle Point overlook.  The Mississippi River bridge between Marquette, Iowa, and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, is visible in the distance:

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (45)

Before the trip, I read up on the history of Effigy Mounds National Monument.  In the early 1900’s, there were efforts made to have the area designated as a national park.  However, after touring this part of the Mississippi valley, an official from Washington declared the scenery to be good, but not extraordinary enough to warrant national park status.  The consolation prize title of “national monument” was eventually bestowed.

Making their appearance along the hiking trail were these columbine:

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak And, this apparently very popular woodpecker hangout:

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (30) I’m thinking the holes in this next tree weren’t made by woodpeckers.  They appeared to be nesting holes…..a virtual highrise apartment complex for birds or squirrels or whomever: 

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (49)

I really liked this striking congregation of ferns and had forgotten that they grow wild in the woods up here:

 June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (27)

Ok, that wraps up my pleasant and enjoyable day away from the farm.  If you ever travel to northeast Iowa, be sure to visit Effigy Mounds National Monument and Pike’s Peak State Park.  In my opinion, the best scenery in the state can be found there!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Peek at Pike’s Peak

After hiking at Effigy Mounds, I travelled a few miles south to Pike’s Peak State Park, also situated high atop a tree-covered bluff.  The park has a fantastic promontory-like overlook platform, offering a safe and superb view up and down the Mississippi River.  While gazing at the awesome scenery, I was serenaded by this gorgeous indigo bunting!

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (79) This next photo looks northward, up the Mississippi River.  A barge can be seen, patiently waiting for the next tugboat to come along and give it a push.

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (71) Looking downriver, you see the Wisconsin River flowing into the Mississippi.  Remember Marquette and Joliet, the French explorers?  They paddled their canoes down the Wisconsin River, eventually colliding with the Mightly Mississippi right here:

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (73)

After filling up on river scenery, I headed down the wooden walkway…..

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (51) …..which leads eventually to Bridal Veil Falls:

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (63) Like the place of the same name in Colorado, Iowa’s Pike’s Peak was named for Zebulon Pike, who explored this area in the early 1800’s, looking for a suitable location for a fort.  He chose this blufftop site, but it was rejected due to the fact that there are Indian mounds here.  I saw the bear mound which rests a little bit north of the river overlook and the conical mounds at Deer Ridge in the woods south of the overlook.  

Friday, June 24, 2011

Effigy Mounds Prairie

While at Effigy Mounds National Monument, I hiked the four-mile trail to Third Scenic View which provides the opportunity to gawk at Hanging Rock and sights upriver to the north.

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (24) Along the way, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the trail skirted a prairie area which bordered the west side of the woods.

 June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (13)

The sunlit field was aglow with green, touched with a sprinkling of beautiful blue. (What a coincidence---blue and green is my favorite color combination!)

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak cropped   Closer inspection revealed the blue hues to be a multitude of spiderwort…..

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (23) …..and, wild lupine…..

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (22) cropped

You probably noticed the oriole in the second photo.  On the trail through the woods, I also caught a glimpse of a flicker and a rose-breasted grosbeak, but could not catch them on camera.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Effigy Mounds Critters

I had plenty of company along the Effigy Mounds hiking trail, mostly creatures of a quiet nature.

A bashful peek-a-boo deer….. June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (31) cropped x2

A fritillary butterfly…..

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (29)

Some sort of snail….

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (6)

A napping snake…..

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (48)

And, a friendly chipmunk who did noticeably announce his presence as he skittered and scurried through the underbrush…..

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (9)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Birthday Hike

Recently, I treated myself to a birthday outing, so let’s take a break from the flower photos and wander down the wooded footpaths of Effigy Mounds National Monument, situated on a high bluff above the Mississippi River on the eastern edge of northeast Iowa.

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (10) Can you find the red-headed woodpecker in the photo above?  If not, here’s a closer look at him……

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (8) An effigy is a sculpted representation of an animal or person.  Look closely at the next photo to see the outline of the Great Bear Mound.  It has a simple shape which resembles a bear animal cracker.

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (36) The Effigy Mounds were made by ancient inhabitants of this area, ancestors of present day Native Americans.  Starting at the tail of the bear mound, there is a long row of conical mounds which were used for burials. 

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (37)

The row of conical mounds leads to the top of the bluff and if you make it that far on the trail, you will be rewarded with a grand view of the mighty Mississippi.  The photo is looking south.

June 20, 2011 Effigy Mounds & Pikes Peak (39) The day was a bit overcast, but I think the haziness adds an evocative atmosphere to the scenery.  It puts one in the mood to think deep thoughts, wax poetic, or simply snap some photos!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


June 17 (13) Large patches of these white anemone are in bloom along the roadside, but its next to impossible to catch them on camera in a pristine state.  They tend to get covered in road dust and beat up by wind and rain.  Finally, the other day I found this one which looked pretty good.

Monday, June 20, 2011


June 18 (1) cropped

This bizarrely flowering plant shows up on our farmstead every year, near the foundations of old sheds and in the yard around the house.  Its name is Motherwort. (I finally looked up “wort” in the dictionary and it simply means “a herbaceous plant”.)  A googling of “Motherwort” reveals that this plant has an illustrious medicinal history making me wonder if a midwife might have lived here on our farm in the old days.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Daisy Fleabane

 June 14 sharpened This sunny little flower with a name like a cartoon character---Daisy Fleabane---is growing randomly here and there near our farm buildings.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Curlicue Vine

June 11 (4)  This goofy curling vine grows along our road every year, but I’ve no clue what its official name is for it isn’t to be found in any of my wildflower books. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wild Rose Variant

June 11 (1) A few days ago I blogged a pink one, but a wild rose by any other color is still a wild rose.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sweet William

June 14 (1)

These wild-growing Sweet William are blooming in the roadside ditch.  They teeter precariously on rather spindly stems and must rely on more sturdy neighbors for support.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Yarrow touched up

Yesterday I traipsed across one of our hayfields to a small prairie area to see what might be in bloom.  The coneflowers and bee balm will flower later in the summer, but this feathery-leafed yarrow was beginning to show some tiny, tentative blossoms.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Another wildflower with an unattractive name (who in the world named these flowers?!), currently making its annual appearance along the roadside near our farm…..

June 10 (19) cropped Hey, I dare you to plan a wedding using “spiderwort purple” in the color scheme!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dianthus Bouquet

Last year I planted a package of assorted flower seeds.  These dianthus waited until this year to reveal themselves.

June eighthThe blossoms bloom together in bunches that look like ready-made bouquets!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wild Rose

Wind-curled though it be, the lovely pink color remains….

June 8 These wild roses must endure an ironic dual identity…..they are bestowed with the honorary title of state flower while at the same time being considered weeds by farmers.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


A few weeks ago this spirea bush had a spring fling with the color red…..

May 28 (14) cropped

Since then, it has settled into plain green garb for the summer.

There is a chance of severe storms in our area later this afternoon.  Just think… house and all its cluttered contents could be snatched up by a tornado, whirled about and violently flung across the surrounding farm fields, but my blog would remain comfortably intact.  If that isn’t a good reason to blog, then I don’t know what is!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Yellow Columbine

For several days now I’ve been attempting to get a halfway decent photo of this Aquilegia Denver Gold Columbine.

June 1 (7) cropped

The problem has been the wind.  Though possessing surprisingly sturdy stems, these comet-like flowers continually danced and swayed, almost making me seasick as I tried to corral them in my camera’s viewfinder.

June 4

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Showy Dianthus

June 5 (40) cropped Yesterday marked the special occasion of my granddaughter’s first birthday party.  After the cake and ice cream and gift-opening festivities, a few of us strolled around our local small town, soaking up the warm afternoon sunshine and admiring well-manicured lawns and flower gardens.  (I’m so thankful to NOT live in town, surrounded by the pressure to keep a perfect-looking yard.)  Along the way, this colorful patch of dianthus seemed to exuberantly shout, “Please take my picture!”, and so I did.   

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wordy Weigela

June 2 (1) This bush owns a wordy name---Wine & Roses Weigela florida “Alexandra”.

Speaking of words, it occurs to me that my blog could use a different name---for two reasons.  First of all, at 53 it is most likely true that I’ve long since exited midlife, as surely the chance of living to 106 years of age is minimal to non-existent.  Secondly, this blog doesn’t seem to be much about farm stuff anymore, although most of the flowers I take photos of are found on or near our farm.  On that note, maybe “Life by Farmlight” would be a better fit, or “Life by Flowerlight”, though that particular title would limit my photo-taking to blooms and blossoms---applicable only as long as I remain in the mood for such.  Decisions, decisions…..  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bachelor Blue

June 1 (4)

An abundance of blooming flowers---including this blue bachelor button---has convinced me to blog on a Saturday.

Friday, June 3, 2011


June 1st (1) cropped

A random patch of this wildflower is blooming in our lawn right now.  The unattractive name, “Ragwort”, doesn’t seem to fit the cheerful look of the blossoms which are about an inch wide.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blue Iris

May 28 (5)

Unfortunately, chilly nighttime temperatures prompted the petal edges to curl.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Golden Alexanders

 May 27 (4)

According to the wildflower book they are a member of the parsley family.