Saturday, June 30, 2012

Escalante Pueblo Overlooks and the Weber Canyon Fire

On June 30, 2012 at 12:00 noon, smoke from the Weber Canyon forest fire is visible from the Escalante Pueblo overlook points at the Anasazi Heritage Center near Dolores in southwest Colorado. One of the interpretive signs on the hilltop at the end of the 1 mile round trip hike has these comments about the surrounding landscape.

From this hilltop one can view the six directions significant to Native Americans – north, south, east west, zenith (above) and nadir (below). It is a place to watch the sun during its yearly journey along the horizon, a place to gaze at stars in the night sky, a place to observe and appreciate the diversity of the landscape that surrounds you.

They understood that humans are not distinct, separate beings from the natural environment but that every act and thought of any human being affects the cosmos. They moved through the land with a sensibility that allowed nuances of the wind, sun and ground to affect their decision making…Their sense of home, or place, was in the space between the earth and sky and not with a specific human-built structure.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Anasazi Heritage Center June Flowers

Summer visitors to the Anasazi Heritage Center near Dolores, Colorado will notice the colorful display of flower beds near the entrance. There is a co-operative program called Plant Select that has developed this Demonstration Garden using native Four Corners plants and selected others. The Anasazi Heritage Center is the Visitor Center for the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

These plants are well adapted to this zone that is between the Pinon and Juniper forest and the Ponderosa and Gambel Oak forest. There is a free guide to all these plants inside the Heritage Center. I visited on June 9, just as some of the plants were coming into spectacular bloom. The Chuska Puma, one of the Pumas on Parade, has a good position on the left side of the entrance plaza.

Shrubby Cinquefoil in the Rose Family has colorful yellow blossoms and is found along trails in the Four Corners. Behind are red and yellow Blanket Flowers. The guide mentions the uses that early residents had for many of these plants.

The combination of the blue and white Rocky Mountain Columbine with the Denver Gold Columbine is spectacular in early June. There is also a Red Columbine that occurs along trails and is here at the garden, though I don’t think I saw it on this visit. Columbines are in the Buttercup Family.

Some of the plants, like these Wine Cups, have Plant Select labels. For some it is harder to find the labels and the plant guide is helpful for those. The plant guide has common names and genus names but doesn't seem to include plant families.

The Desert Four O’clock or Miribilis is one of my favorites to find along the trails. 

Apache Plume in the Rose Family has feathery plumes that carry the seeds. It probably had many white flowers that have already faded. Behind it I think is the ornamental Green Ash. I could see the small canoe paddle shaped seeds getting ready to flutter down.

There are many more to find and the plants in bloom will change through the growing season.

Toward the end of June the Coneflowers come into bloom.  Purple Coneflowers and ...

Prairie ConeflowersIn addition to the plant beds near the entrance, the whole site, even the parking area can be considered as a botany resource.

At the end of July, Bee Balms are replacing the columbines in front of the Chuska Puma. The one mile round trip interpretive trail to the Escalante Pueblo site also has identification for some the native plants.