The rain continues to taper off, but many of the plants in the park are still looking strong. I’ll be off playing with the wildflowers in Crested Butte next week, so there won’t be an update on Monument Valley Park next week. (You’ll just have to go check it out yourselves!)
You’re welcome to revisit last week’s post but I’ll try to do a thorough summary of everything that is still blooming. And I do have one new plant to add.
Park at the small lot where Fontanero ends at the park, and start walking north.
For those of you who’ve been following “area 1” with me (the area around the stone ditch and then the field north on the right/east side of the trail) will probably be as disappointed as I was to discover that these areas have been completely mowed down to about 1 inch.
Previously this field and ditch area had a beautiful collection of natives and non-natives blooming:
Four o’ clocks
Right now, the field has some thriving red filaree (a low-growing weed that is on the noxious weed list), some patches of cactus, as well as a few brave primrose still blooming.
This forces us to look in different places for blooming plants in this area. Look across to the west side of the path as you walk and you’ll see many of our old favorites blooming, and you’ll be as excited as I was to discover a penstemon blooming! This is the same penstemon that was described growing down in Area 2 the past few weeks. I still haven’t decided whether this is one-sided penstemon (Penstemon secundiflorus) or narrow leaved penstemon (Penstemon angustifolius).
A little bit further north, and you’ll see a handful of yucca (Yucca glauca) blooming just on the other side of the split rail fence. I’ve been walking and running in this park for nearly 20 years, and I’d never noticed these yucca!
I did discover one “baddie” this week – in the middle of a small group of natives, I discovered a two-foot-tall dalmation toadflax (Linaria genistifolia). This is just past the “triangle intersection” on the west side of the trail. At first sight, you might think this is a yellow penstemon. It is in the same family as penstemon, but it is not one. It’s an alien (native to southeastern Europe) that is on the Colorado Noxious Weed List – list B. It is very difficult to control because of its extensive, deep root system (since this is a small “infestation”, the plant can probably be pulled and the area monitored – mowing will encourage spread). Read more about the Colorado Noxious Weed list at www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Agriculture-Main/CDAG/1174084048733.
There are still some nice patches of mixed plants blooming along the west side of the trail. You’ll see threadleaf yellowrays (Thelesperma filifolium), scarlet gaura (Gaura coccinea), prairie evening primrose (Oenothera albicaulis), western spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis), Orange Globe Mallow/Cowboy’s Delight (Sphaeralcea coccinea), Yellow Salsify (Tragopogon dubius), four o’clocks (Oxybaphus nyctagineus), and alfalfa (Medicago sativa).
Still blooming in this area (photo summary):
From the same parking lot where Fontanero ends at the park, walk to the south. At the bottom of the hill, go to the stone walls opposite the dumpster and turn right (sorry – my previous instructions have said “left”!). The grasses are getting taller and taller, but many of the plants I’ve been pointing out are still blooming along this part of your walk – salsify, alfalfa, cowboy’s delight, and even the evening primrose. The wild onions have just about finished up.
When you get to the point where the side trail joins from the right, look in the beautiful field of flowers on the left and you’ll see the original penstemon found a few weeks ago, western spiderwort, evening primroses, and four o’clocks.
From this point, you can enjoy a longer walk by continuing north and looping back to the parking lot (a mile total) or you can take the side trail that joins on the right to loop back to the hill below the parking lot.
Text and photo contributed by Carey Harrington, Colorado Master Gardener and Native-Plant-Master-in-Training.