Monday, July 11, 2011

Coneflowers = Happy Memories

One of the delights in the prairie this year is how many more of certain types of flowers there are than there were last year. Gray-headed and purple coneflowers are two particularly beautiful examples. 

Last year, there were a handful of each type. This year, they are everywhere. Gray-headed coneflowers can grow quite tall - 5-6 ft. - and the flowers wave on slender, fragile-looking stalks. Whenever anyone sees them the first time, they are surprised, as I was, at the name. Instead of the dull image implied by the name, the petals are yellow and look like a summer skirt, flowing down from the center. It's a bit of a stretch to say that center is gray, but it's certainly not as dark as the center of a black-eyed Susan. The petals of purple coneflowers also hang down from their burnished red/gold centers, but not so gracefully as the yellow petals.

These gray-headed coneflowers remind me of the hollyhocks that grew on our farm. As little girls, my sisters and I spent many happy hours fashioning the hollyhock blossoms as skirts for clothespin dolls. I don't have hollyhocks in my garden, but my son does.  I hope his daughters have fun playing dress up hollyhocks like I did. 

And when they come to visit our prairie, we'll gather coneflowers to build more happy memories.

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