With all the rain we have enjoyed, endured and encountered this summer, I must say the wildflowers have bloomed with great bounty.

Normally, this time of year the roadsides and fields are browning and only a few hearty flowers survive the withering heat.

I am so pleased to recount the enjoyment I have experienced this summer in seeing all the colors driving through and around the county. Bright yellows, periwinkle, magenta, purple and many more have caught my eye.

I drive around the infamous roundabout on 68 Highway a lot. The small yellow flowers which have found roots along the roadside are plentiful there. I am befuddled as to what species it is, and I know someone out there knows its name. (If you look up “small yellow flowers in Kansas” many look quite similar.)

I recall seeing them grow along Minnesota highways several years ago, and slowly the small, delicate yellow flowers made their way to our neck of the plains… and I am glad.

The flowers encircle the roundabout like the sun with its bright rays. It, and the other colorful wildflowers, have been mown to the nubs several times this summer. It has made me livid! Hang with me here!

Besides the little yellow flowers there have been Queen Anne’s lace, purple clover and azure asters that have endured the mowing’s onslaught.

If you drive around the roundabout now, all of these aforementioned wildflowers are in bloom in a small-scale form. Even the asters and Queen Anne’s lace, which are normally 2 to 3 feet tall.

That is pint-sized perseverance, if you ask me. They must be saying, “You can cut me down, but I will still come back to show off my color and gorgeousness to the Kansas drivers who are noticers of nature.”

I say, “Well done, flowers! Keep up the growing!”

I learned some things about Queen Anne’s lace that I wish to pass on to you so that the next time you see it you might appreciate and wonder and consider its beauty more. This is the tall white flower with a red spot in the middle of the 3-inch circular, semi-rounded flower that is apparent in fields all over the countryside.

I learned that it is also called a wild carrot. It has several uses. The white flower is edible. It can be eaten raw or lightly battered and fried. I say this is interesting news to know. But there is more. The seeds have uses also.

The seeds have been used for centuries as a contraceptive. Well. The magic of nature is everywhere. I don’t know how well or how it works, so please don’t depend on my words, or that of the internet, for its usage.

From the root a tea can be made that may prevent and maybe eliminate kidney stones AND rid individuals of worms. A three-in-one deal. It can’t get much better than that!

Beauty and control.

The Queen Anne’s lace is growing around the roundabout in short form.

Now, back to my thoughts at hand.

Why does everything that touches the roadway have to be chopped to bits by mower blades? Can the vegetation be allowed to continue its life cycle and be enjoyed?

Here is my opinion: People have a belief that grass must be perfectly groomed on every lawn. It then carries on to the state and county mowers that the highway must be the same whether its near the city or out in the middle of nowhere.

Is it a Kansas law to mow the roadsides? Can they be left alone for the butterflies, bees and other creatures that need them?

I have been so happy to see milkweed growing along 169 Highway for the oncoming monarch butterflies only to see mowing machines cut them all to smithereens this past week. Really?!

This is the Beth Conner idea for wildlife along our highway systems. Instead of continually cutting, chopping and mowing and spraying everything along highways and roadways, why not plant the plants that insects will pollinate, receive their sustenance for living, and provide beauty.

If we are the Sunflower State why not plant a kazillion billion sunflowers up and down the highway right of way and in large expanses of open areas near highways.

Just think of the number of butterflies we could attract just by doing this simple and beautiful task. Just think of the amount of people we could attract to our area with a highway beautification and pro-active pollinator program.

Here is my suggestion for the center of the roundabout that is “just” grass: plant the little yellow flowers and a cluster… a big bunch… of sunflowers. It would be the hit of the highway system. We could be the leader in highway plantings.

Now that would be something cool to do!

Beth Conner is a Miami County resident, teacher and outdoor enthusiast.

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