Orange puccoon is in bloom and the magenta-pink flowers of prairie phlox blossom brightly along the railroad right-of-way. If the two casually grow close to each other, the clashing of bright pigments may offend the sensitive eye: one shudders and turns away.
Phlox pilosa L.
May. Prairie roadsides.
But somehow in all the world of green in which wild flowers are found, color clashes seldom occur; there is almost always enough of the mediating green to set each color apart where, in itself, it is pleasant to look at.
Prairie phlox is a member of that prairie clan growing in the heavy black sod of the original prairie still remaining along certain highways and railroads. In this tight black soil, matted with generations of roots, the tap roots of the phlox penetrate and the plants grow. In May they send up a tuft of stems covered with masses of narrow-petaled, bright pink flowers, some lavender-pink, some white with a purple-red eye. The stems are thin and densely fine-hairy; the leaves, as in all phloxes, are opposite and stemless, narrow and stiff. The tight buds are furled in the manner of an umbrella, and unroll to lay out the five blunt petals around a darker center ending in a tube.
Prairie phlox is brilliant there along the highway. The orange puccoon is far enough away not to offend with its nearness. The redwinged blackbird on the wire above expands itself in song. The. dickcissels are back, endlessly chanting from fence posts or old prairie dock stalks, and soon among the grasses, when the phlox is out of bloom, the dickcissels will build a nest. By that time spring and the wild phlox will be past. It will be June again, high summer on the prairie.