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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.

Summertime Bluebells

Prairie Notes #139
July 1, 2018

01) Summertime Bluebells

02) Field Report - June

03) PrairieSky / StarParty Report

04) Bethy Young's Birthday Wish

05) National Prairie Day UPDATE

06) Prairie Proverb



01) Summertime Bluebells


It's way too early for the summer doldrums but I got me a case of the summer blues. Texas Bluebells, that is, (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum), aka: Showy Prairie Gentian. And showy they are. Perhaps the showiest wildflower at Tandy Hills in terms of size, brilliant color and numbers, they look like they were airmailed to the prairie, fresh from a Parisian flower market! They nicely compliment the summer grasses and Dogweed (Dyssodiopsis tagetoides) at Tandy Hills.


Their large bell-shaped flowers sit atop slender stalks in various hues of purple, pink and white, with darker purple centers and bright yellow stigmas. The waxy foliage is a distinctive shade of blue-gray-green. Every part of this plant is appealing to the eye. They even make long-lasting cut flowers, but NEVER pick from wild places. Grow your own. Buy seeds HERE.


Even more impressive is that, these seductive blooms thrive in the summer heat, making them THE iconic early summer wildflower at Tandy Hills, which is blessed with relatively large numbers. One reason they are plentiful here is because they are not located in the View Street meadows where photographers and their models tend to hang out and pick wildflowers as props. You will have to walk in and search for them. Best viewing times end in mid July so,….come on in asap. 


NOTE---If you just can't possibly make it, in situ, I've created a 2-minute video of Texas Bluebells swaying in the summer breeze at Tandy Hills on the 2018 summer solstice eve:








02) Field Report - June


A single, brief rain shower in late June was about it for the month severly arresting the growth of tall grasses such as Big Bluestem. Wildflowers such as Prairie Bishop's Weed, White Larkspur and American Basketflower were similarly affected, fading quickly in the summer heat. A notable exception is Texas Bluebells, which generally can be found near seeps, a few which are at Tandy Hills. A few other species, like White Prairie Clover (Dalea multiflora) seem unbothered by the heat. It was encouraging to see to see a Cottontail Rabbit for the first time in many moons. Here's a few pics of what I observed in the Month of June.


Texas Bluebells: Pretty and Texas tough


Fetching no? Who needs Bluebonnets when you have Bluebells?


White variants are rather common.



Another resilient summer wildflower is Sawleaf Daisy (Grindelia papposa).


I came across this majestic specimen of White Compassplant (Sylphium albiflorum) in mid-June. We had a nice chat.


White Compassplant is one of several endemic species at Tandy Hills.


Another endemic is, Yellow Compassplant (Sylphium lacinatum).


Sun-silhouetted, Gayfeather (Liatris aestivalis) will show its purple tipped flowers in a few weeks.


Dogweed (Dyssodiopsis tagetoides) can take the summer heat and keep on ticking.

Round-headed Dalea, aka: White Prairie Clover (Dalea multiflora) is a bee attractant.....

....and here is an American Bumblebee coming in for a landing on at Cafe Dalea....

....annnnd dinner is served.

Shimmering summer solstice sunset, 2018


03) PrairieSky / StarParty News


The next event is July 21. Fort Worth Astronomical Society member, Pam Kloepfer, reports the following about the night sky on July 21: 


"The moon will be at a different phase than last month - waxing gibbous, so it will be much “fatter” than when we saw it in June. Jupiter will be in a prime location for viewing. Saturn will also be very visible this month and will probably be the “star” of the night . Mars will begin to make an appearance later in the evening. Albireo in Cygnus the Swan is a double star and will be visible. M57, the Ring Nebula in Lyra can be found but will be very faint. M13 in Hercules is a globular cluster but… will also appear faint."

Come on out to Tandy Hils for this free and kid-friendly event.



04) Bethy Young's Birthday Wish


Bethy Young (no relation to Don Young) is the young woman who started the highly successful, Forest School, that has been meeting every Tuesday at Tandy Hills since 2016. She and her home-schooled children and their many friends have a soft spot for the place. So much so that, for her birthday this year, Bethy asked her Facebook Friends to make donations to Friends of Tandy Hills. Her fundraising goal was exceeded. Congratulations and Happy Birthday to Bethy. Here is her message: 


"For my birthday this year, I'm asking for donations to a place so near and dear to my heart-Tandy Hills. This is where we have Forest School . Miles and miles of People saved this prairie minutes from downtown that has been the place where my community meets weekly for almost 4 years now! Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area contributes so much time to this special place. I hope you'll consider contributing as a way to celebrate with me. Every little bit will help make sure that this amazing place gets everything it needs so our kids will continue to have access to amazing nature."


Thank you Bethy! For anyone who missed her Facebook fundraiser, you can always make a donation to Friends of Tandy Hills right HERE:


Bethy Young


05) National Prairie Day UPDATE


National Prairie Day was founded in 2016 by the Missouri Prairie Foundation. Tandy Hills Natural Area recently made the list on this national website for "notable prairies to visit." Here's a LINK to their new list.



06) Prairie Proverb


"All the world is beautiful, and it matters little where we go. The place where we chance to be always seems the best."



- John Muir, 1838 - 1914, American naturalist, author and environmental philosopher, from his unpublished journals




Prairie Notes© is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All content by Don Young except where otherwise noted.