We were in Grand Tetons NP and Yellowstone NP way too early for many flowers.  One of the rangers we consulted said that the fields generally bloom in mid-June.  While we were there the trees were just starting to bud out and it was still frosty on many mornings.  As I understand it, theirs was a late spring by most accounts, but we did come across a number of little early bloomers.  The sagebrush was the one constant.  There were old flowers at the ends of the branches but the leaves were starting to green up some.  The smell of the sagebrush was memorable, a dusty herbal smell that teased the senses.  We camped in the midst of it at Gros Ventre (pronounced “grow vont”) for all the time we spent in the Tetons.  It sheltered the prairie grass that the elk and bison eat.

We saw cotttonwoods in the campground and aspens and evergreens nearer the mountains.  Lodgepole pines, douglas fir and blue spruce were common along the trails.  On one of our hikes I picked up several cones to sketch.

I acquired a few new field guides while we were out west, but somehow, a guide to wildflowers was not one of them.  I looked for an online resource and didn’t find one, so if you know what these are, feel free to enlighten me.

These little white flowers bloomed overnight it seemed.  When we went to bed there were none; when we woke up they were everywhere among the sagebrush.

We found these little papery bluebells in the campground at the base of the cottonwood trees.  We saw some delicate yellow bell flowers and these small lily-like blooms.

And I pitied anyone brave enough to walk around in their bare feet if they happened to step on these tiny cacti.  Most of them were shriveled and reddish, but a few had started to plump out and get greener.  They were only the size of my thumbnail.

These little yellow flowers were near the geothermal areas in Yellowstone NP where it is warm enough to grow this early.  There were some tiny purple ones as well but I didn’t get good pictures of them.

We saw shooting stars at the base of Garnet Hill in the Tower – Roosevelt area.  The picture is a little blurry but I’m posting it anyway because they are very cool.

Another interesting plant we saw growing in marshy areas really caught my attention because of the colors.  Originally, the colors were purple, maroon and golden.  While we were there, they were gradually being transformed into greener shades.  I took many pictures of them in all sorts of places trying to capture the feeling of the colors.  This is the best I could do and it doesn’t do them justice.

I’ve seen pictures of the larger blooms that come later in the 65 frost free days that this area has.  If this is the splendor of early spring, then summer must be incredible.

Observe how the lilies of the field grow, they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.   But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, o men of little faith?  Matthew 6:28b-30


3 Responses to “Flora”

  1. 1 Colleen Kole June 4, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    It would be fun for you to join the sketchbook project. Hint, hint. You had a fun time with the photos and they are lovely! What an amazing journey you had.

  2. 2 sue June 5, 2010 at 7:20 am

    I had to click on the sketch as at first, I thought it was the actual cones laying on the paper. You are a master at all you touch!!!! The wildflowers are delightful. I took a course in wildflower identification with hikes to find them in Boulder one spring. I remember what they look like but not the names. You should consider a scrapbook to capture this wonderful trip….one for each of you.

  3. 3 Norma June 5, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Wonderful photos, as usual, and your pine cone sketches are fabulous. I, too, had to click to enlarge to see if they were photographs or your drawings. You are so very talented.

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