A Walk in the Wildflowers: By Michelle Brand with photos by McCaslinn Brand

With lazy hazy days of summer upon us, the cooler evening temperatures call to us to come and enjoy the outdoors.

This call led my husband and I to the Nature Trail at Grayson Lake last Thursday evening. We turned right off of Rt. 7, just off the dam, and drove past the look-out tower. On the right a split-rail fence bordered the tall grass prairie. Another right turn took us into a spacious parking lot. A wooden arbor was the doorway to the mowed grassy trail.

We stopped to look at a map of the trail and a list of animal wildlife that lives in the area. The entire trail loop was 2.2 miles long. We only walked a half mile or so. We strolled leisurely along and I started getting a bit winded, so we stopped for a breather. I was surprised because we walk every night and I'm not in terrible shape. So we turned around and looked and was surprised to see the path was a steady gentle climb, and the parking lot was a distance away already.

While stopped I noticed an enticing sweet smell. It reminded me of the spring blooms of the wild plum thickets that grow along the fence rows in Nebraska. I know that they do not grow here in Kentucky, so after some investigating, discovered a airy plant with tiny white flowers. (Aromatic aster) The light sweet smell perfumed the air all along the trail.

We had started downhill and noticed a fenced off square with young trees in it. Trying to guess what trees they were, we noticed a single red apple hanging from a branch. So we think maybe fruit trees to feed the deer? We decided to stop and head back. We enjoyed looking at the beautiful variety of wildflowers growing in the tall grasses.

My favorite flower colors are purple and yellow. These were the most prevalent colors but white, blue and orange were also abundant. Kentucky's state flower the Goldenrod's showy yellow flower heads were spectacular in the sunlight. (Did you know that most people are not allergic to the Goldenrod but actually ragweed which blooms at the same time).

The tall deep purple blooms of the Ironweed and tiny flowers of the New England Aster blended beautifully with the White Panicle asters and yellow daisies. (Did you know that the White Panicle aster was used to dress wounds and to make a salve to use on abrasions?)

We stopped to enjoy the view of the colorful meadow in a small wooden gazebo built by an Eagle Scout. As we headed back towards the parking lot we counted the different species of wildflowers. We ended up with 10!

How many wildflower species can you find on the Grayson Lake Nature Trail? Why don't you take the short drive and find out?