Spent quite a bit of time in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area this last few months. While I've been able to keep up with my regular trips to Sica Hollow State Park this summer, I've definitely had more time in urban areas as opposed to wilderness this summer.
Recently, an uncle mentioned that there was a nature center in Richfield, a suburb of Minneapolis, just off a ridiculously busy stretch of Interstate 35. Last week I decided to take a look. All I can say is that the city of Richfield has a glorious gem of wilderness. Although, I could never really escape the sound of the cars on the highway, the wildlife and the flowers didn't seem to mind, so neither did I.
The Wood Lake Nature Center is a 150-acre natural area dedicated to environmental education, wildlife observation, and outdoor recreation. It has three miles of trails and these are very nice trails making for easy hiking. The park has marsh, forest and even a stretch of prairie (reminders of my South Dakota home.)
Found lots of great late summer flowers as well as quite a bit of wildlife including ducks, geese, great blue herons, cranes, a muskrat and even a couple of deer.
First wildflower I came across on the shoreline of the lake was Purple Loosestrife. Loved the wonderful purple color against the grays of the reflected sky in the water. Unfortunately, I found out later this is an invasive species that tends to crowd out the natives like cattails and other wetland plants.
Here are two photos to show more detail of the individual blooms
The next flower I found was one that is familar to me from the wet portions of Sica Hollow State Park in South Dakota. The Spotted Touch Me Not. Although, the blooms here had little or no spots, unlike their cousins in South Dakota.
The wildlife here is clearly used to people walking through their home. This duck actually swam closer to where I was on the shore to hop up on this log perch.
Next flower along the trail was one I hadn't seen before. This is a tiny bloom, but such cool detail. This is the American Bellflower.
This next flower was a new one for me as well. This is Wild Mint. The color and the blooms are very similar to the Wild Onion that I run into quite often in South Dakota, but the position of the blooms along the stem had me stumped until I could get to the field guides for identification.
Here is a detail shot of two clumps of blooms on the Wild Mint. What a cool wildflower!
Not far behind the Wild Mint, I found another new, but sort of similar flower as it also had clumps of blooms along the stem. Nature is nothing short of amazing! This is the Spotted Horsemint.
Closer detail of the blooms along the stem.
Next up was another wildflower that I've seen quite regularly on my hikes out in nature. This is the White Snakeroot. This can really be a tough flower to photograph, but the sun being low in the sky and filtering through the forest gave such a cool backlight, I really couldn't ignore this shot.
It is easy to write this flower off as it looks so similar to the backyard pest Dandelion, but this is a tall flower. This is a type of Sowthistle. The yellow was fantastic in the evening sun.
Another flower I am very familiar with.
This is the Bittersweet Nightshade, a non-native species and while it is incredibly beautiful it can really overrun a backyard garden and choke out other plants. I first ran into this in our backyard and I really thought it was great find. However, it proceeded to kill off the honeysuckle that was next to it. It can be a persistent little bugger, but if you keep at it, you can get rid of it.
After I've said all that, it is still a really cool flower!
A happy bunch of Aster. Always a pleasure to see these guys.
Sort of embarrassed to admit that I didn't recognize these beauties out in the field. I was thrown off as most of these blooms weren't open completely, but this is another Aster, the New England Aster.
The New England Aster is an important late summer bloom for the bees. Even though the summer is fading fast, there were still quite a few bees working these plants.
It is absolutely wonderful that a city like Richfield sees the importance of wilderness and makes this wonderful park available to its citizens. I enjoyed my visit and I know I'll be back to see what is blooming next spring. I'm sure it will be beautiful!
If you are in the Twin Cities area, I'd really recommend that you visit this island of wilderness in your backyard.
Until next time - PJ