Not so long ago, I received a call from old friend Bob Harter, one of this region's premier prairie experts. The conversation hooked its way around to an interesting site that Bob had brought to light about a decade ago; a set of massive shale bluffs overlooking the upper end of Alum Creek reservoir. Among other things, Bob had found one of Ohio's very few stations for the endangered Gattinger's foxglove, Agalinis gattingeri, along the summit of these bluffs.
I hadn't been to this spot for a number of years, so we made plans to meet up and have a look at the place, and on a very rainy day we did just that.
The foxglove was nearly past flowering, and given that and the rain, none of my photos came out well enough to publish without causing myself undue embarrassment. Perhaps I can make my way back here next season and do better.
No shrinking violet, the showy goldenrod - a robust plant can tower four feet skyward and the stem launches from a pad of large leaves that form a conspicuous rosette.
Showy goldenrod is by no means common in Ohio, having only been collected in 14 of our 88 counties. It no longer occurs in many former haunts, and has a strong affinity for prairies and more or less unmolested dry open woods.
There is an understandable urge to possess botanical stars such as these two species, and as long as they are not harvested from the wild, having native plants in the yardscape is extremely positive for the environment. The word "green" is now one of the most abused, tortured, twisted and misapplied words in the "environmental" lexicon, but planting native plants really is green in every sense of the word.
I'll use this as an opportunity to ask you to mark your calendars for July 27-29, 2012, which are the dates for the Midwest Native Plant Conference in Dayton, Ohio. There, you shall be able to find and purchase smooth aster and scores of other natives from reputable vendors.