Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I'm back! Where was I for the past few weeks? In my home state of Nebraska, that's where! While not on the top of my list of vacation destinations, the occasional family event (in this case, a sister's wedding) can drag me back. While on the plane, in an attempt to resist the urge to throttle the screaming children in the row behind me, I finally did the math and realized that it had been around 6 years since I'd made it home. One thing I had not counted on...no cell phone service or wi-fi...eeek! It was very strange being "unplugged" for the better part of a week!
We flew into Omaha, and on our way to one of the most sacred of spots (a Runza Restaurant) I spotted a commercial planting with one of my favorite grasses, Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium). I'm not sure if the intensity is due to it being a different cultivar ('Blaze', maybe)? It could also just be the severe weather Nebraska endures...with horribly, hot summers and freezing winters. Either way, I was smitten by that coloring!
A closer look reveals that the uniform reddish color is actually a rainbow of hues, from red, blue, purple, orange and green...wow! Seeing them up close was amazing. I resolved at that very moment to move my Little Bluestem to a sunnier position in the hell strips next spring (well...I had sort of already decided that after they flopped AGAIN this year). If you are ever looking for a shortish grass...go for Little Bluestem...it's great!
On the way to my sister's farm, we stopped by my childhood home for a quick visit with my Dad. The house sits outside the nearest "town" (population 1,300) on an acreage.
It was funny to see a few of the plants I had planted when younger were still going strong...indeed, Dad had divided them and filled in a lot of space! The Sedums and Tiger Lilies in particular made appearances all over the property.
While we were busy working on the wedding details (if you can describe moving hay bales and stringing lights from barn rafters "details") during most of our stay, I'd occasionally sneak down the long, country driveway to snap a few pics of interesting plants. I was struck by the lovely form and coloring of these seedheads, Gray Coneflower, perhaps?
I was totally intrigued by these seedheads as well...I remember them from my childhood, but never actually knew their name. After doing a little e-research yesterday, I can (almost) confidently declare them Desmanthus illinoensis (Illinois Bundleflower). They are actually related to Mimosa (which is evident when you see the finely-divided pinnate leaves).
Even the crops can be beautiful...here is Rye Grass waiting to be turned into hay bales.
And here is the resulting hay bale...I was always intrigued by the swirling pattern.
The effects of a few frosts (or maybe herbicide) were visible in a few plants that had obviously gone over. I was struck by the spare, skeletal beauty of this weed.
Grasses abound in Nebraska...each ditch of a gravel road can play host to dozens of species, which are at their loveliest at this time of year.
Mind the barbed wire!
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One of the pastures used for my sister and her husband's cattle sported a nice colony of Little Bluestem...a little hard to see in this shot, the whole field glowed with orange and red when backlit!
I shifted position and in this photo you can see the rich autumnal coloring of the Little Bluestem. I keep going back and forth about whether or not this is actually Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii). It was taller than most Little Bluestem (around 4', if memory serves) but not quite the 6' that I've seen Big Bluestem reach...then again, if it had been grazed, it would understandably be shorter.
What about the wedding, you ask? It was really lovely...held outside the couple's house with the reception in their newly-build shed. Above, the happy couple!
The ceremony itself was held just as the sun set, which made for a beautiful service...but also tricky photo conditions!
Fall flowers were the order of the day...as were pumpkins!
The ceremony's setting...bucolic Americana!