It is interesting to me how life spirals as the years go by, how separate events become part of a story in my life that I didn't see happening until now, now that I can look back and see how one event led to another.
Royal Catchflies have become a connection of events in my life.
Back in the late seventies or early eighties, I began volunteering for Brukner Nature Center in Troy, Ohio. One of the first Brukner Volunteer trips I went on was to visit the prairies of Madison and Champaign Counties. Ralph Ramey was our guide. His name is known to many Ohio naturalists and environmentalists. The boardwalk at Cedar bog in Champaign County is named for him.
One of the remnant prairie sites he took us to was Bigelow Prairie Cemetery in Madison County. It was there that I first saw the Royal Catchfly. I don't remember there being much in the way of trails. We just followed Ralph to the back of the small cemetery. There, amid old tombstones and other prairie flowers were these brilliant red flowers.For a long time Bigelow was the only known Ohio site for these flowers.
Part of the reason Ralph loved the prairies was because he loved the butterflies attracted to the plants found in them. His love of butterflies kindled my love of butterflies as well as prairies.
Tom and I began going to the Ohio Prairie Conferences. The conferences were small in those days, fewer than a hundred people. One year the conference was held in former school near Germantown. There, a woman, older than we were then (and younger than we are now) was proudly displaying the Royal Catchfly plants she had raised from seed. They were her babies. She wanted people to see them but she wasn't interested in giving them to most people. They were too precious.
Onward ten years or so... the Darke County Parks volunteers began having plant sales and one of the plants they were selling was the Royal Catchfly. We bought one but it died despite our care.
The following year, we didn't go to the sale but a friend did. She remembered our desire for a Royal Catchfly and she brought us one. It was a weak, small plant but she said that was the only one they had left by the time she arrived. That plant grew into the clump of Royal Catchfly we have now, the one in the photo above.
Now Ohio Wildflower Nurseries sell Royal Catchflies. Last year we planted one in Tom's prairie patch that he planted around two large rocks brought down from Canada by the glaciers.
This year we have the start of another beautiful clump of Royal Catchfly. The arrow marks the spot where the Royal Catchfly is.
A closer photo of the plant.
I took this photo early on July 3.If you look carefully you can see two buds showing red tips.
Late in the afternoon, I took this photo.
Hooray for Royal Catchflies.