Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for August 27th, 2011

Something there is…

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“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall” wrote Robert Frost, but today my lament begins “Someone there is that doesn’t love a wildflower.” Readers who have been following this blog since at least August 1 may recall that in my post for that day about a colony of snow-on-the-mountain plants that was growing tall and healthy but hadn’t yet flowered, I wrote: “I’ll go back to this location in late August or September, and if no one has cut the plants down I’ll report on what they look like when they’re all brightly bracted.”

You can probably tell where I’m going with this: when I returned on August 20 to that location—a park!—I found that the mowers had indeed destroyed almost all the stands of plants in the large colony, along with a mound of sunflowers. We’re in the middle of the worst drought in most people’s memory, and here was one native plant that had managed not only to survive but even to thrive in spite of the heat and the lack of water. But “No,” said the mower men “we can’t have a park covered with tall wildflowers. We’d much rather have a barren, parched, broken, dusty field of stubble.” (If you insist on a dose of sadness and indignation, click the brown thumbnail to see how the same patch of ground that bore the plants in the August 1 photograph looked on August 20.)

As if to taunt me, the mowers had spared a few snow-on-the-mountain plants standing close to the edge of Brushy Creek Lake, a tiny remnant of the wildflower field that should have been. Why the destroyers left those few plants I don’t know, but the lucky survivors let me show you a current picture of snow-on-the-mountain plants when they produce their beautiful white-fringed bracts and little flowers:

Snow-on-the-mountain, Euphorbia marginata; click for more detail.

Now imagine what an acre largely covered with these flowering plants would have looked like.


Update on August 31: Two days ago I e-mailed the director of the parks district that includes Brushy Creek Lake Park, explaining what had happened and pointing him to this post. The next day he called me and said that after my e-mail he went out to the park and confirmed the details for himself. He said that he has issued new orders: from now on, the large meadow in the park will be mowed only once a year, probably in late November. If a situation should arise that a mower thinks might warrant mowing at another time, that person will have to get permission from the director or assistant director.

Let’s hope that the new policy goes forth as planned, and that no mower chooses to ignore it or claims after-the-fact ignorance of it following another act of devastation.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 27, 2011 at 5:55 AM

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