Walking through the prairie today, the word that came to mind was architecture. During the summer, I never looked past the swathes of yellow, dots of pink, pinpoints of blue in the blooms that blanketed the prairie. But now, the bright colors of flower petals are gone. What’s left is the bones of each plant – the architecture – the framework that held all that brilliant color.
I looked up architecture and found one definition – “the complex or carefully designed structure of something.” That’s the prairie all right. Complex. Carefully designed. Structure.
With the color stripped away, the view is spare but no less dramatic in its own way. The Carmine Miranda flair of the Dotted Mint has given way to the skeleton of a skyscraper. Without the bright yellow, a black-eyed Susan is almost ghostly. When leaves of broadleaf plants give way after the frost, the more simple structure of the grasses stands out, with a structure to draw the eye and birds throughout the winter.
Subtle brown tones. Almost black seed heads that were once regal purple coneflowers. Without the fancy, bright clothes, we see the character of what’s underneath.