Love lavender? Passionate about purple? Consider a short walk at Draper Twin Lake Park – SOON! Just start down the nice wide path to the fishing dock and you’ll begin to see one lavender/blue/purple plant after the next – even a lavender and blue insect! Plus some other very cool species. Have a look:
Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana), which I’m told is not so obedient, is a native plant that can spread vigorously, especially in a garden. Sometimes we need vigorous native plants to compete with aggressive non-native invasive plants. Isn’t it striking?
And look how much the pollinators love it! There are three tucked inside different blossoms!
Our native Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa) is springing up everywhere at Draper Twin Lakes, just as it is at Bear Creek Nature Park. Such an appropriate name for what I like to call “a bad hair day” wildflower beloved by bees.
Maryann Whitman, a local wildflower expert, informs me that this native plant, Tall Bellflower (Campanulastrum americanum) is not common in this part of Michigan. Ben tells me that it was probably part of a native plant seed mix used along the trail by the Parks Commission when they built the path. It seems to have settled in quite nicely here!
Down by the fishing dock, right in the water, are two other purple plants . This one is a native, Swamp Loosestrife (Decodon verticillatus). The flowers grow right along the stem and though it’s hard to see here, even the veins of the leaves are a light pink.
Unfortunately, right across the way, on the other side of the fishing dock, is a fierce, Eurasian invasive plant from the same family. If Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) takes hold, it will crowd out our native plants. Fortunately, a beetle that only eats Purple Loosestrife was introduced to Michigan in 1994 and has done a great job reducing the abundance of Purple Loosestrife. Now, instead of wetlands full of these invasive plants, Purple Loosestrife populations are mostly kept in check. With the potential to produce 2.5 million seeds per plant each year (!), we still remove any Purple Loosestrife we find, but we don’t have to worry about it as much as we used to.
Also on the deck, is a color-coordinated damselfly, the Violet Dancer (Argia fumipennis violacea). Really! A damselfly that matches the flowers nearby! I’ve seen these lavender and blue damselflies before at an inland lake. They must prefer water deeper than the ponds at Bear Creek.
Down in the water at the end of the deck – what else? Blue Gills, looking very blue and lavender under the water.
If you learned the complementary color wheel in art class, you may remember that the complementary color to purple is yellow. So nature obliged at Draper Twin Lakes. Near the dock, an Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) stood at attention, its yellow flag flying.
Off in the plants near the fishing deck, a a golden dragonfly, The White-Faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum obtrusum) balanced delicately on a dried flower stem.
And below, crowds of orange and yellow Jewel Weed (Impatiens capensis) gave the final golden moment to a lovely walk.
From start to finish, going out and coming back, this short, easy walk to the fishing dock at Draper Twin Lakes Park is well worth your time – especially if your favorite color is purple!