asclepias_speciosa.jpgMAP – Here is the helpful map of the north part of the park. I use the areas I’ve labeled on the map to organize my posts.

Well this is certainly a rough year for the plants and the park. In the month proceeding my previous post, we received approximately 1/4 inch of rain. This has led to minimal blooms, but it’s always fascinating to me to see what will go ahead and bloom anyway in a drought.

Another drawback for bloom is that the wildflower meadow field and area around the stone irrigation ditch (see map above) were mowed on June 22. Sigh. These areas are NOT supposed to be mowed, and I’ve dealt with this previously (see http://peakgardening.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/natives-blooming-in-monument-valley-park-june-30/). This time, I quickly called Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation and talked with Kurt Schroeder. He was surprised and then realized that this year they are having the mowing contracted out, and the information not to mow the “wild” areas in the north part of the park was not passed on to the company handling the mowing.

Most plants that were cut down will probably not make a second attempt and growing and blooming this year since we’ve had no moisture.

But – over the past month, here is what I’ve seen blooming in the north part of the park. I’m not going to give specific areas and photos as the blooms haven’t lasted long and will be hard to find. This list is primarily for record keeping purposes:

Scarlet gaura (Gaura coccinea)
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) – Alien
Wild onions (Allium textile)
Chiming bells (Mertensia lanceolata)
Vetch (Astragalus shortianus?)
Western spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis)
New Mexico Locust (Robinia neomexicana) – Alien
Wolfberry (Lycium barbarum) – Alien
Prairie evening primrose (Oenothera albicaulis)
Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata) – Alien
Western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis)
Threadleaf yellowrays (Thelesperma filifolium)
Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

Actually – the showy milkweed is quite prolific and easy to find all of the north loop this year – so I’ll include its photo at the top and one of a field of them below. This is a super important food for monarch butterflies in their caterpillar stage. (Ah – I’d always wondered why I never saw any actual Monarch butterflies around!)
asclepias_speciosa2.jpg

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