The color of mountains are slowly changing from lush green to gold and brown. Some time within the next three or four weeks we should reach peak color in nature’s grand finale. It only seems like yesterday that I was so excited to see the first bloom of Spring! The days of the sun seemed to pass before my eyes like the images in a Zoetrope until they blended into a single moment.
The first noticeable change for me this year was the appearance of the Plains Coreopsis along the road. Bright sunny pedals embrace a reddish brown center in a beautiful display of joy. Also known as Golden Tickseed they were not seen in these numbers in my youth. Instead we saw black-eyed Susans, ironweed, Joe Pye weed and Virginia Boneset gracing our ancient hills. Occasionally tall cattails would take root in the ditches and host Red-winged Blackbirds along quiet country lanes. We still have these on the back roads.
The Plains Coreopsis also feeds butterflies and bees while they’re in bloom but the road crews are required to mow them before they form seed to prevent them from becoming invasive. On the surface that’s a good thing because we have enough invasive species in the Appalachian Mountains. Mostly Asian varieties that were brought here as ornamental plants. But the problem is that the edge species that have been replaced by the Plains Coreopsis were also a food source for out native birds. The beautiful Plains Coreopsis would provide the birds with an edible seed but that has to be removed to prevent the spread of the plants. The results are less food for the songbirds. The advantage to the person who wants to attract songbirds is that it becomes easier when they’re looking for a meal.
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