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A tour of peaceful Iowa wildflowers videos
A tour of peaceful Iowa wildflowers videos

Readers often tell me they appreciate Bleeding Heartland’s wildflower series as a respite from the stress of following political news and the negative energy of social media. I feel the same way when I look through the hundreds of beautiful photos in the Iowa Wildflower Wednesday archive.

But for a truly peaceful experience, nothing beats spending time with wildflowers in the real world. If you’re stuck indoors, a few minutes watching videos of Iowa wildflowers can be a pretty good substitute for a stroll through the natural habitat.

This post features some of my favorite videos about Iowa wildflowers from two occasional Bleeding Heartland guest contributors: Bruce Morrison and Katie Byerly. Their YouTube channels (Bruce Morrison and Iowa Prairie Girl) are delightful in their own ways.

VIEWS OF PRAIRIE HILL FARM

Bruce has been an artist and photographer for many years and has been restoring prairie lands in rural southeastern O’Brien County with his wife Georgeann for over two decades. I was fortunate enough to visit Prairie Hill Farm Studio and see some of Bruce’s artwork in Morrison’s studio – a renovated late 1920’s brooder/sheep barn.

I discovered Bruce’s wildflower videos relatively recently, but he has a lot of experience with this medium. He uploaded “Mid Summer at Prairie Hill Farm” back in 2011 – a year before I wrote the first part of Iowa Wildflower Wednesday. And it’s not even the oldest video on his channel!

Bruce’s videos generally follow the same format. No script, no narrator, no subtitles. Just images of native plants (and pollinators) with the sounds of nature as accompaniment. Even without being able to identify the birds or insects visiting the wildflowers, it’s so relaxing to watch and listen.

More recently, Bruce has been producing shorter “Prairie Moment” videos, where he focuses on a native species for about a minute. Here is the latest example, featuring Big Bluestem with views of different parts of the plant at different stages of development.

Bruce typically treats the viewer to a few visits from pollinators, like this moment on the prairie with the false sweet clover.

The plants often sway in a gentle breeze. Here is the prairie rose, Iowa’s state flower.

Some plants are subtle and not at all “conspicuous”, such as porcupine grass.

Others are bright and cheerful, like this view of butterfly milkweed (one of Iowa’s few orange wildflowers).

Speaking of cheerful, let’s spend a few minutes with Katie, whose wildflower videos take a different approach.

Exploring northern Iowa with a prairie dog

Katie started her channel about five years ago. In almost 60 episodes, she takes viewers to a variety of natural areas – usually not far from her hometown of Cerro Gordo County.

Katie narrates all of her videos and offers tips on how to identify various wildflowers in Iowa. In this episode on Monkshood (one of her most viewed), Katie takes viewers into a drainage ditch to describe the leaves, stems, inflorescences and flowers and explain how to distinguish these plants from the related species Monkshood.

She also informs viewers of all the remarkable facts about the plant featured, such as the anti-itch properties of Himalayan balsam (one of my personal favorite plants).

Katie says white wild indigo is one of her personal favorites.

Last year’s video on prairie grass (one of the typical tallgrass plants) was also popular. Katie is happy to share alternate common names for each plant – in this case, tallgrass, bluegrass, beardgrass, turkey foot, cow rice (because cows like to eat it) and king of the prairie.

I was very amused by Katie’s video about the Maximilian sunflower, one of those “damn yellow asteraceae” (which are hard to tell apart). She added a bit of folklore and explained that sunflowers are a symbol of loyalty, luck or truth: “If you sleep on a sunflower and put it under your pillow, the next day the truth will be revealed to you.”

Some of Katie’s wildflower videos have a bonus feature: her companion, the prairie dog. Check out her sweet face resting on Katie’s leg for several minutes as we learn about the Stiff Gentian.

I hope you take some time to explore both channels. Watching videos about Iowa wildflowers is definitely less stressful than what the YouTube algorithm thinks you want to see.

By Liam