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Iowa Wildflower Month celebrates our native wildflowers

The Iowa Native Plant Society is promoting the annual Iowa Wildflower Month this May to encourage Iowans to get outdoors to enjoy and appreciate our wildflowers and our natural areas. These activities are similar to events in other states and are located in many parts of the state. If you’d like to see wildflowers in a natural area, this is your opportunity to join a scheduled program.

Spring is the time of the blooming of many woodland flowers and is the beginning of a long parade of prairie flowers. There are many different sponsors of walks: the Central Iowa Sierra Club sponsors walks in Polk County and Guthrie County; the Iowa Native Plant Society in Johnson County, Story County, and Woodbury County; the Iowa Prairie Network in Polk County, Story County, and Woodbury County; and numerous walks are offered by county conservation boards, including Buena Vista, Cerro Gordo, Jones, Linn, Marshall, O’Brien, Polk, Pottawattamie, Wapello, Warren, Winneshiek (at Hayden Prairie State Preserve in Howard County) and Woodbury. The Iowa Arboretum near Madrid is offering a guided walk on May 10 and self-guided walks on all weekends in May. Some of these activities are scheduled as late as the end of May when Monona County Conservation and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources help the Northwest Area Education Agency put on an entire weekend event that features wildflowers in prairies and woodlands in and near the Loess Hills, at the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar.

In addition to the many walks, there are five work days scheduled – at the Iowa Department of Natural Resource’s Shimek Forest Wildlife Management Area, at The Nature Conservancy’s Folsom Point Preserve, at the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s Turin Prairie and also at their Heritage Valley, and at Whiterock Conservancy.

Workshops and programs about using native plants in the home landscape are provided at Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids and there are several at the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar.

The Friends of Warren County Conservation, the Iowa Arboretum, Iowa City’s Hickory Hill Park and Indian Creek Nature Center are each holding a plant sale that includes native plants.

Contact information and details about these activities (and any additional ones as they are scheduled) can be found on the Iowa Native Plant Society website at www.iowanativeplants.org and many are on the county conservation board parks site at www.mycountyparks.com. All activities are open to the public and only a few have fees or require preregistration.

Outdoor events can be cancelled due to weather conditions, so check for updates. Dress for the conditions and weather.

While most of these walks feature woodlands, prairies are the focus of walks and talks during Iowa Prairie Heritage Week. The Iowa Prairie Network coordinates this week, which will be observed from Sept. 7-13 this year.

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