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Before and After the Mow

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July, July. She's a sweaty hot fulsome month in southeast Ohio, but there's nothing quite like a July morning.

Especially when the hay hasn't been cut, and neither have the roadsides. At this point, I'm completely agog that they've let both go so long. I mull it over. Despite abundant rain, the hay's very thin this year, and maybe the guy who cuts it is letting it go hoping it will get thicker. 

I figure the roadsides have escaped the big mow because our township is so broke. There are advantages to living in a depressed area.

I love how the new light strokes the long grass.

The chicory is at its deepest, richest blue before the rising sun hits it and makes it open, and then close within a couple of hours. It makes me shiver, it's so beautiful. And the plants are so very lush. Chicory may be able to grow in compacted, gravelly hardpan without water, but oh, it loves water just as much as any other plant. It says thank you in the most exuberant way. This is the best chicory I've ever experienced.

I particularly like this photo of Queen Anne's lace. My friend Hodge wants to grow it in a little waste strip near her house in a big city. And here I am pulling it up in my gardens. A weed is but a plant out of place. Here, it's heavenly, especially when paired with Delft-blue chicory.

Rudbeckia has such a sunny disposition. There's not much of it this year, but what there is, is gorgeous.

I always enjoy noting the different phenotypes. This one has very narrow petals compared to the plant above. I see the same variation in my purple coneflower stands. Quite elegant, this one.

I've just finished taking these photos and I'm continuing on  my "run" which is really more like a wildflower crawl when I top the hill to the cemetery. There's a pocket of cellphone reception there and I get a call from Bill. All I hear is his voice, saying, "ZICK." And sounding alarmed. Then some garbled words and the call is dropped. Soon a text comes in. "They're mowing the roadsides. They'll be at the gentian patch in about ten minutes."

Oh #$%$#%!! I take off running, actually running now, not loping and squatting and oohing and aahing.

He's making his first pass. You know, to get all the chicory.

I really like the township mowing guy. He's great. He already knows what I want, and he shakes his head and meets me with a rueful smile as he shuts down the mower so he can hear my latest nitpersnickety request. I can't ask him to leave the chicory and butterfly weed. Picking my battles here. So I ask him just to please not mow the upper bank back up the hill where the rose gentian grows.

He knows where it is; I've posted it before. 

And he leaves it unmowed. A small but significant victory over the forces of flower destruction.

Still, it's hard to see all the flowers taken down at the height of their beauty.



I remind myself that the chicory wouldn't be here if it didn't get mowed. That the plants' roots remain, and they'll grow back. And bloom again before frost.

Still, I'm disconsolate all day, as if I can feel all the flowers dying inside me.

I walk up our driveway and take comfort from the mutant butterfly weed we've been nurturing. Why it's yellow instead of orange, who knows? But it makes me happy. I have to really look for it because my brain tells me it's a goldenrod or Rudbeckia and I'm liable not to notice it. But it's beautiful.

An ant crawls slowly across a coneflower pricklefield.

All flower and landscape photos in the last two posts were taken with my iPhone 4S. I fall a little more in love with its camera every day.

Feeling better. And as you can see by the long grass on the upper left bank, I still have rose gentian to look forward to. And I'll watching everything grow back, morning by morning, with my best doggie Chet by my side. That'll be good.


It really bugs me how, not only townships and municipalities, but the people who live in them, seem to be in a constant battle with nature. Man is always trying to "tame" nature. To cut it into approved shapes, or keep it at approved heights. Or just clear it out altogether. Right now, because of all the thunderstorms, rain, and high winds we've had, they seem to have decided that the current enemy is trees. It breaks my heart.

Posted by Anonymous July 21, 2013 at 4:00 AM

We have a similar-looking mower going along our rural roads here in NE PA now. Besides the wildflowers, it also grinds up all the shrubs and smaller trees. It leaves a horrible looking mess! The other thing I've been noticing-- several people nearby us have started spraying their roadside banks (that are too steep to mow) with herbicide. Okay... so dead wildflowers, then brown dirt looks better than pretty wildflowers and natural grasses? All this work to make their yards look 'better'? I don't think so! I'm glad you were in time to save the gentians!

On a similar note, there was a lovely woods about 5-6 miles from our house, chock-full of bloodroot, trillium, and others in the spring. We discovered this bike-riding by (up a hill) when we dropped a chain (tandem bike). It was just the loveliest place, and we always made sure to ride that route at least once in the spring, year, someone had built two houses and landscaped there!!

Posted by Shelley July 21, 2013 at 6:32 PM

The highways of my morning commute are wide, lovely long prairies. All the grasses bloom in subtle shades of lavender and plum, and then the rudbekia and the milkweed start going, and it's lovely and pleasing to the eye... And by the time I drive home at night, it's all been mowed down to stubble. I do think that someone in the county is a romantic at heart, because they let it go for quite a while before they take it down, but it is pretty sad when they do. So glad you were able to save the rose gentian, at least!

I can so relate to this. Our area is under the mower now as well. On the way to the dump (excuse me, waste transfer station) I have enjoyed the flowers dislodged from trucks on their way to the trash pile and dropping seeds along the way. Saturday, I proudly wanted to show the gallardia, hollyhocks, etc. off to a visitor...and not one flower that had been there 3 days before. Sigh.

A story with many heroes: you for caring enough to chase down the mowing man; the mowing man for listening and agreeing; Bill for alerting you.
YAY--a happy ending.

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