This morning began with work on a blog post I’ve had in mind since sometime in May. I took a batch of pictures for it on the first of June, and finally started writing this morning, running late but determined and optimistic. By mid-morning, I had a rough draft and broke off for a quick walk to take a few additional photos.
About twenty minutes into what turned into a meander of almost two hours, I decided to shelve the post until next year.
It was the flowers, you see.
They’re blooming. All of them. Everywhere.
Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but there really are wildflowers blooming all over the place right now.
Our precipitation over the winter and through the spring was decent, and whether it’s simply water or pent-up desire after a run of several dry springs in a row, this booming bloom is something to see.
So I’ve created an excuse to go see it, as frequently as possible: I’m going to blog the bloom, in pictures.
Rather than hitting you with all this color all at once, I’ve decided to post a flowering plant each day for the month of July.
Here are the rules I made up as I was wandering, taking pictures, feeling tipsy on floral perfume, listening to the bees, and generally being dazzled.
- Native plants only.
- Photos don’t have to be taken the day they’re posted, but they all will be taken this July, 2019.
- All plants will be observed from home on foot and thereby located in my local neighborhood.
Now, anybody who’s followed this blog for any length of time is likely thinking this all sounds farfetched in the extreme. Although I aspire to post fortnightly, I rarely sustain that pace for any span of time, and I’m particularly notorious for vanishing from the blogosphere for extended periods during the summer months (as rationalized here).
I decided back when I started this blog nearly six years ago that I’d prioritize writerly whim over punctuality and consistency. I thought then, and I’m even more certain now, that I’d feel boxed in by a strict schedule. I’ve pursued blogging as a reflective exercise, and have tried to find my discipline elsewhere. I’m still looking for the discipline, but the relaxed approach to blogging has kept it fun and interesting.
Given all this, a thirty-one day commitment feels risky. This project is based on a cheat, though, so I’m plunging forward. I’m aiming to post a daily photo, but I’m on vacation when it comes to writing: I might make a few comments here and there, but I’m not holding myself to an obligation to compose anything more substantial than plant names.
On which note, I’ll do my best to be specific and will try to supply the formal Latin at least occasionally, but I’m embracing this whole “vacation” concept and am not making any promises.
I’m also copping out a little, though, because I’m stymied by this first plant. It’s blooming in drifts right now, so enthusiastically it deserves to be up first, but I’d only be guessing if I offered a name. I call it “the little purple penstemon that blooms earlier than most of the penstemons.”
In my defense, here’s what my copy of Plants of the Rocky Mountains (Lone Pine Publishing) has to say about penstemons: “The genus Penstemon is a large and complex group of plants. There are dozens of species in the Rocky Mountains, and many of these species hybridize freely, producing populations of plants with characteristics that are intermediate between the 2 parents. This can make identification difficult.” (p.196).
We’re going to pretend that identification is too difficult in this case, but I can tell you this plant prefers east and south-facing slopes with plenty of rocks and not a lot of competition from grasses. The flower stalks are only about six inches tall, but the plants are so numerous that entire hillsides look as if a cloud shadow is passing over; but no, it’s just penstemons, in their thousands, bluing the hills.