Spring has certainly come to the lovely sky-prairies of the southeastern portion of the park. Lovely, but shrinking, as the broom advances. There is still time to stop it though, with bunchgrasses, a delightful array of wildflowers, and long clear views as beautiful incentives:
These photos are from just a tiny portion of what I am calling Big Prairie, which is certainly what it was and shall be again once the broom is swept back. And native grasses and wildflowers are holding on beneath the younger broom plants, enough to recolonize the areas that have been lost under the older broom thickets.
Here is a panning view of the vicinity. Note that much of what lies hidden behind, and under, the broom that you see is similarly verdant grassland:
And these photos are from another such prairie, quite a bit smaller but with an astonishing abundance of flowers. This particular prairie shares a feature with some of the other small prairies in this region, namely, an unusual kind of rock outcrop and soil type that seem to correlate with smaller trees, more abundant bunchgrasses, and great wildflowers:
On the border of another tiny such patch some ways to the north, I encountered one only of a certain type of tall grass growing out of the exact center of a sagebrush and with their stems and roots entwined. Whether this was happenstance, or whether this grass survived where others did not because shielded by the sage, I do not know, but it was a striking image. I do not yet know whether this particular grass is even native, but hopefully one of you does!
And further north still in the chain of prairies, a constellation of these tiny succulent plants in just one spot. There may be many that I’ve not noticed growing singly here and there, but in this spot they were impossible to miss. Each one is about the size of the head of a cotton swab:
Here it may be helpful to mention that I upload all of these as v.large files, so clicking on any photo will make it full-screen with additional detail. Some of these are not as in-focus as I would like, as I am still learning the art of using the macro setting in situations of high reflectance. Am going to try an umbrella next time!
As always, am grateful for plant identifications and any other thoughts you may have.
More photos from these prairies soon!