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Prairie Notes are monthly photo/journal observations from Tandy Hills Natural Area by Founder/Director, Don Young. They include field reports, flora and fauna sightings, and more, mixed with a scoop of dry humor and a bit of philosophy. They are available free to all who get on the FOTHNA email list.

Everything On It

Prairie Notes: #65
May 1, 2012

1) Everything On It
2) Prairie Fest x3 Rolls On
3) Field Report
4) Kids on the Prairie: Year 2
5) Wildflower of the Moment
6) Prairie Plant Puzzler
7) Tandy Hills in the News
8) Prairie Proverb

1) Everything On It

The Tandy Hills are so lush and beautifully painted with wildflowers right now that, to walk upon them feels like an unspeakable act of cruelty. Standing on the trail, I watch the western sunlight cut through the living, breathing canvas rooted in ancient limestone and nurtured by micro-organisms, earthworms, lizards and crawling insects revealing a tangle of Sensitive-Briar covered in pink puff-balls and colored currents of standing wildflowers in colorwheel-shades of yellow, white, purple, red and blue supported by delicate green stems and what seems to be billions and billions of butterflies, moths, dragonflies and bees zooming, spiraling and humming in mad harmony above the swaying wildflowers as pairs of Rabbits and Roadrunners scatter scurry and birds of all colors and sizes float and feed like Martha Graham dancers in the clear blue sky above the mysterious, rare, sweet-scented prairie in this most natural of worlds.

It's an Ode to Joy, it's a Hallelujah, it's a Starry Night, it's La Dolce Vita, it's Lomas de Flores, it's Le Prairie #5. It's got everything on it. Come on in and get re-connected with YOUR natural world.

I do recommend stepping very lightly when you visit and, please, don't pick the wildflowers. Here's a sampling of the plants you may encounter this week:

01) Bluets (Hedyotis nigricans), 02) Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), 03) Fox-glove (Penstemon baccharifolius), 04) Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloides), 05) Meadow (Blue) Flax (Linum pratense), 06) Yellow Flax (Linum rigidum), 07) Standing Winecup (Callirhoe pedata), 08) Stork's Bill (Erodium texanum), 09) Skullcap(Scutellaria drummondii), 10) Texas Sage (Salvia texana), 11) Sensitive Briar (Mimosa striglliosa,12) Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium enisigerum), 13) Texas Vervain (Verbena Halei), 14) Prairie Bishop's-Weed (Bifora americana), 15) Purple Cone-Flower (Echinacea angustifolia), 16) Barbara's Buttons (Marshallia caespitosa), 17) Crameria (Krameria lancelolata), 18) Engelmann Sage (Salvia engelmannii), 19) Engelmann, (Cutleaf) Daisy (Engelmannia pinnatifida), 20) Yellow Sundrops (Calylophus serrulatus), 21) Texas Star (Lindheimera texana), 22) Old Plainsman (Hymenopappus scabiosaeus), 23) Greenthread (Thelesperma simplicifolium), 24) Prairie Paintbrush (Castilleja purpurea, (25) Antelope Horns Milkweed (Ascelpias asperula), 26) Fluttermill, Missouri Primrose (Oenothera missouriensis), 27) Scarlet Gaura (Gaura coccinea), 28) White Milkwort (Polygala alba), 29) Prairie (Indian) Plantain (Cacalia plantaginea), 30) Two-leaved Senna (Cassia Romeriana), 31) Yucca (Yucca sp.), 32) Queen's Delight, (Stillingia texana), 33) Prairie Brazoria, (Warnockia scutellarioides), 34) Prairie Fleabane (Erigeron modestus), 35) Prairie Larkspur (Delphinum carolinianum), 36) Pennyroyal (Hedeoma acinoides).

DY

Morning sun lights up the wildflowers on the Tandy Hills in mid-April.
Morning sun lights up the wildflowers on the Tandy Hills in mid-April.

2) Prairie Fest x3 Rolls On

The April 28 event was a rousing success. The weather was near-perfect and the wildflower show was magnificent. The kite-flying and giant bubble-making kept the kids entertained. The Food Factory Adventure, Lost Letters Hike and Solar System Passport Game arranged by Prairie Keepers, combined learning with a sense of fun. The musical performances were some of the best ever at Prairie Fest and the crowd loved it. (I think we set a record for the most people dancing at PF.)

Get ready for the final event on May 26 which will include science and wildflower hikes and activities plus, Movie Night on the Prairie, after dark. Sponsored by our friends at the Citizen Theater, we will screen a soon-to-be-announced silent film from the golden days of cinema. Food and drink will be available from Chadra Mezza & Grill, Good Karma Kitchen and, NEW for May, The Wiener Man.

Tentative musical acts for May include, Sunshine Emery, The Walking Contradictions and Pablo & the Hemphill 7. Complete schedule coming soon.

Want to volunteer? Check out the new VOLUNTEER button on the website.

Go here to see what you missed at PFx3 in these photos by, Scott Ausburn:
http://musicinpictures.shutterfly.com/thenotmusicpage/4788

Photo montage by Paul Knudsen
-Photo montage by Paul Knudsen

3) Field Report

-Record-setting rainfall kept the wildflowers coming in amazing waves of ever-changing color. Purple Paintbrush has given way to huge swaths of Bishop's Weed, Indian Blanket, Greenthread and Prairie Larkspur, among many others.

-As mentioned above, a pair of Roadrunners seem to have made a home at Tandy Hills. They are a common sight on the trails usually with a lizard or snake dangling from their beaks, running across the park. Tandy Hills is also home to a pair of Cotton-tail Rabbits, as well. Love is in the air.

-The unusual Spring has caused a pronounced uptick in the number of insects roaming the hills. Record numbers of butterflies and moths are devouring wildflower nectar. Also, dragonflies are back much earlier than in recent years.

-Good rains also mean the prairie grasses are thriving. Expect a head-high crop this Fall if the drought stays at bay.

-An unexpected fog crept over Tandy Hills in mid-April creating a surreal scene among peak wildflower time. Chris Emory captured the scene in the striking photo below.

Fed by record-rainfall, <strong>Yucca</strong> dominates the landscape at Tandy Hills in early April.<br />
Fed by record-rainfall, Yucca dominates the landscape at Tandy Hills in early April.

Twinkling flowers of <strong>Slender False Pennyroyal</strong> (<em>Hedeoma acinoides</em>) with their lemon-scented leaves are heavenly.<br />
Twinkling flowers of Slender False Pennyroyal (Hedeoma acinoides) with their lemon-scented leaves are heavenly.

<strong>Yellow Flax</strong> (<em>Linum rigidum</em>) glow like tiny stained glass windows on the Tandy Hills.<br />
Yellow Flax (Linum rigidum) glow like tiny stained glass windows on the Tandy Hills.

<strong>Sensitive Briar</strong> (<em>Mimosa roemerian</em>a) puffballs are exploding in greater numbers this year.<br />
Sensitive Briar (Mimosa roemeriana) puffballs are exploding in greater numbers this year.

A watchful Cottontail rabbit basks in the sun in a sea of wildflowers at Tandy Hills.<br />
A watchful Cottontail rabbit basks in the sun in a sea of wildflowers at Tandy Hills.

Magic is afoot at Tandy Hills in early April. Photo by Chris Emory.
Magic is afoot at Tandy Hills in early April. Photo by Chris Emory.

4) Kids on the Prairie: Year 2

Have you ever made a donation to Friends of Tandy Hills? Become a member or Prairie fest sponsor? Bought a T-shirt? If so, you have contributed to our conservation and education programs. We are especially proud of Kids on the Prairie, an innovative program that will bring thousands of students to Tandy Hills for science investigation.

These innovative field trips fill a critical need in Fort Worth and have expanded dramatically in 2012. In addition to the previously scheduled Spring field trips, FOTHNA is honored to help sponsor a group of 78 students from the Young Women's Leadership Academy, a gender-based FWISD school. We are also pleased to sponsor and consult with other organizations and school districts.

Kids on the Prairie works in partnership with FWISD, Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, City of Fort Worth PACS, Cross Timbers Master Naturalists and the FASH Foundation. KOP would not be possible without the dedicated work of many volunteers. FOTHNA is blessed to have a team led by, Anne Aldefer, with able support from Kathy Scott and Debora Young.

➤ See a report by Jessamy Brown in the May 3 edition of the Star-Telegram for a mention of Kids on the Prairie;

http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/05/02/3931318/dfw-schools-finding-crea...

kids on the prairie logo
<strong>Young Women's Leadership Academy</strong>, all 78 of them, head out for a field investigation at Tandy Hills.<br />
Young Women's Leadership Academy, all 78 of them, head out for a field investigation at Tandy Hills.

5) Wildflower of the Moment

In a month of wildflower heaven it's hard to pick just one but, just because it is so abundant and overpowering, Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia), gets the nod. The hills east and west of the Main Trail that were cleared of trees during past Brush Bashes are thickly covered in these sturdily beautiful plants standing about 24" tall.

Because of the sheer numbers or perhaps, just by chance, I was lucky enough to find a single plant bearing rare, white coneflowers. The flower head was golden rather than bronze-colored. I highly recommend a visit to Tandy Hills just to see the majestic stands of these wildflowers.

The thickest stands of <strong>Purple Coneflower</strong> I have ever seen at Tandy Hills are covering the Main Trail slopes.<br />
The thickest stands of Purple Coneflower I have ever seen at Tandy Hills are covering the Main Trail slopes.

Among thousands of <strong>Purple Coneflowers</strong> I found a single specimen of the rare white-colored variety.<br />
Among thousands of Purple Coneflowers I found a single specimen of the rare white-colored variety.

6) Prairie Plant Puzzler

Aren't I lovely! My large, whitish-pinkish-lavender blooms are among the most beautiful wildflowers on the prairie. It's no wonder bees like to fly inside my corolla tube and tickle my stamens. (Oooooo la la!) You can find me in dry open locations across Tandy Hills in April and May. One of my nicknames, Fairy Thimbles, may give you a clue to who I am. So, who am I?

Prairie Plant Puzzler
Guess my name and win a prize.

➤ Stumped by the April puzzler? Answer: Meadow Flax (Linum pratense)

7) Tandy Hills in the News

Fort Report, the City of Fort Worth's cable channel, visited Prairie Fest on April 28 and produced this video report:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WD2DVYEM1E&feature=plcp

Fort Report logo

8) Prairie Proverb

"The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies."

-Laura Ingalls Wilder, Missouri Ruralist,1911

Two people following their bliss at Prairie Festx3, April 28, 2012. Photo by Scott Ausburn.<br />
Two people following their bliss at Prairie Festx3, April 28, 2012. Photo by Scott Ausburn.