On a windy day this past summer at Illinois Beach State Park, I saw these showy goldenrods and blazing stars dancing a duet in the wind, and the Monarchs passing through had to hang on tightly to avoid being swept out into the Lake.
This is a lovely little patch of prairie on the older dunes, with several prairie species growing in a dense community. However there are also quite a few grey dogwoods starting to muscle their way in. While native, they can be weedy and will quickly overpower the other species if not controlled. Prescribed fire works well on a prairie to maintain the balance, however this can be tricky on the dunes as fire will kill the creeping juniper and bear berry that grow nearby.
I built this painting up by layers, stem by stem, leaf by leaf, and finally color by color. Last was the butterfly but at first she looked like she’d been stamped on the surface. I had to tease a goldenrod and a grass stem over her wings a little to drop her down into the habitat.