Plants Blog

2021 - 2022 

Prairie Trillium Seed

Prairie Trillium and the Ant 

Last night I found a big black ant carrying a Prairie Trillium seed across my kitchen counter. Tightly clenched in its black jaws was a seed, to which the ant held on by a cream-colored swoop. Here's what was going on   August 25 , 2022

Prairie Blazing Star

My Purple Lobelia

Bumble bees pollinate Great Blue Lobelias. Hummingbirds pollinate Cardinal Flowers. So they don't usually cross pollinate. But they can. And with my help, they did exactly that in my garden. Here's how I did it.   August 11 , 2022

Prairie Blazing Star

Prairie Blazing Star

Prairie Blazing Star is opening its majenta eyes, and summer is fully upon us. One of the most valuable of our native flowers, Prairie Blazing Star makes food for bees, butterflies, other pollinators, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  July 23, 2022

Fringed Loosestrife

Fringed Loosestrife

Down in a low meadow while watching for bumblebees among the wild roses, I found a yellow flower — Fringed Loosestrife. This native wildflower is both pretty and inconspicuous.  July 6, 2022

Purple Prairie Clover

Purple Prairie Clover

Ahh, Purple Prairie Clover is starting to bloom, bottom first. The deer get a lot of them, but somehow few always survive. And have done so through the eons during which they grew with no help from human gardeners.  Fourth of July, 2022

Venus' Looking Glass

Tall Thimbleweed

I've found Tall Anemone in woods close to my house in southeast Iowa. Day by day I watched the leaves unfold and the stems shoot up. Then white globular buds formed. And at last now the plants have bloomed. June 26, 2022

Venus' Looking Glass

Venus' Looking Glass 

This dainty flower is blooming all over my little garden outside the living room. It's so tiny and spindly that it would be easy to weed it out in spring. But it you let it grow, it soon stands up tall and has pretty purple blossoms. June 18, 2022

Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair Fern

One of the loveliest of Iowa's ferns Maidenhair Fern. It cascades over the soil and exposed roots of a steep cliff that is the bank of Crow Creek. It is my first experience ordering bare-root plants from a nursery. June 15, 2022

Purple Milkweed

Purple Milkweed

Milkweeds are the most particular of flowers. To form pods and seeds, a flower must be pollinated. However, milkweed pollination is such a difficult and iffy process that I'm amazed the plants can reproduce at all.  June 9, 2022


Bloodroot of the Ants

Ants gather Bloodroot seeds and take them back to the nest. Not for the sake of the seeds themselves, but for something stuck to the seed that they feed to their young. Then they throw the actual seeds away. June 3, 2022

Jacob's Ladder

First Jacob's Ladder of Spring

It is this year, probably because of the delayed and cold spring. But at now the Jacob's Ladder is in bloom under the Rebud trees. They also do well on the shady side of the house. They bloom later there, extending their time of bloom. May 2, 2022

White Trout Lily

First Trout Lily of Spring

White Trout Lily. This flower is fair of face, but to look it in the eye one has to lie down, cheek against the moist ground, close as lovers sharing a pillow. It is a spring ephemeral, blooming before the trees leaf out. April 25, 2022

Virginia Bluebells

First Virginia Bluebells of Spring

First thing the wind did today, it shook the Virginia Bluebells awake. Now they're all smiles. They glance downward like shy young girls who suspect but don't yet fully realize their own beauty. April 22, 2022

Common Blue Violet

First Violet of Spring

It's been a startlingly cold, dark spring. But at last this morning the sun came up and came out. As if in celebration, a few violets in the woods ventured to open a bud or two and turn their faces upward. April 21, 2022

Amerian Elm

The Elm and its Afterlife 

It has been a beloved tree. For as long as we have lived here the American Elm has arched over our gravel road. Today, with the respectful skill of a surgeon, Eli removed the dead limbs sure to come down in the first ice storm. Dec. 16, 2021

Buttonbush Blossoms


My grandmother used to push closely spaced cloves into an orange and let it dry until it became a fragrant sachet. Buttonbush seeds remind me of those cloves, the way they fit together so neatly that they form a solid sphere. Nov. 10, 2021

Swainson's Thrush

Virginia Creeper Berries

A Swainson's Thrush migrating north to south across North America in fall needs fuel to survive the trip. Fuel like the berries of Virginia Creeper. Some may hate it, but the birds need it. So I love it. Oct. 14, 2021