Purple pick-me-up

The prairie is hard for me right now. It could be hot weather with no hint of rain. Our rain barrels are almost empty and it’s only June. Oh no, is this a repeat of the plant-killing heat from last year? I can’t take another summer like this. Everything will die. What’s the use?

It could be the neighbors. I hope they don’t hate me. I bet they hate me. Do you think they hate me? They probably hate me.

It might be the neighbors expanding their spraying this year, hiring the chemical company to spread poison across their carefully mown grasses. Are they spraying? They’re spraying! Why are they doing that? Do they hate me? They must hate me. Holy crap, it’s blowing onto my prairie!  

Poison blow-over hit the edges of the prairie and withered some of my targeted plantings to a crunchy brown. I didn’t even want to go look anymore, so I ignored the prairie for a week spending far too much time watching TV.

But just when hopelessness was nudging me to throw in the trowel (sorry, couldn’t resist), this flashed by the other day when I was speeding along a dirt road about a mile over from our place.

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot or bee balm)

I hit the brakes and threw it into reverse.  Purple? Did I just see a flash of purple? What the heck was that? Seriously. Purple? Trash maybe? A person in a purple shirt?

Wild bee balm just hanging out along a fence.

This large stand of wild bergamot was like a warm hug from Mother Nature herself. Way out in the middle of nowhere on the edge of a wild grass field it waved at me in the morning sun.  “See,” it said. “You don’t need to worry about us. We do pretty good on our own.”

Inspired, I drove straight home to Hilltop House and beelined for the prairie. Here’s what was standing up tall to greet me.

Wooly Verbena (also called hoary vervain)

There wasn’t just one, but four. Four! Four of these gorgeous tall-standing native prairie plants. I did not plant them myself. I did not seed for them. They just showed up when we stopped mowing. Like another hug from Mother Nature in my own back yard.

Woolly verbena is very drought-resistant, with roots that can descend to 12 feet. Plains Indians made a tea from the leaves and used it to treat stomachaches. Prairie chickens and small mammals eat the seeds. (KSwildflower.org)

Okay, dear Prairie. You’re not giving up on me. I’m not giving up on you.

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5 Responses to Purple pick-me-up

  1. Janice Myers says:

    So pretty! Any idea on how I can get my hands on some bee balm to plant in my yard. It would look so incredible! Keep it up – that was Mother Nature telling you not to “throw in the trowel”. 😉

    • Janice: YES! I just talked to someone this evening (will email you info) … or, you can have some of mine. But we should wait til fall. I divided mine this spring and the parent plant is acting depressed (must be empty-nest syndrome).

  2. Rich says:

    It’s looking good!

  3. hungryholler says:

    Salute the purple!

  4. Barbara Wells says:

    I love it. Beautiful wild flowers.

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