Back to Nature (Published on - Aug. 23, 2006)
Gaillardia pulchella – Indian blanket fights for nature
Photo by Rick Tremmel
Gaillardia pulchella, commonly known as Indian blanket flower, is found from Virginia to Florida and westward to Colorado and New Mexico extending south into Mexico.
The horse ranch and granaries stood ghostly silent against a dark, gray brooding sky. Overgrown fields and abandoned stalls whispered tales of riders long ago.

Memories seemed suspended like worn, barn wood placards speaking of distant, sunny days and warm, moist horse breath on cold winter mornings. One long discarded riding boot lay upon the ground.

Vines grew in and out of the lacing holes and curled circular around the heel. As the sun arose in the sky, bales of damp hay steamed with thick aroma.

Sunflowers towered 6 feet into the sky almost obliterating lines upon lines of broken-down fences and Indian Blanket flowers burst in shades of orange along curving pathways. An old chair peeked out from the cover of blue plumbago, as the pages from a tattered Frye boot catalog turned with a sudden breezy uplift.

In every direction I turned it was apparent that nature was determined to return, survive and melt into this once lively landscape.

It is certain that all things change. What isn’t certain is how these changes will take place and what will be the eventual outcome. Îf we envision that we may not be the only living beings in our solar system, our universe … how could one abandoned ranch effect anything beyond the bumblebee casually gathering pollen from a sunflower?

But if one looks beyond the immediate horizon, the big, yellow C.A.T. machines await in tidy rows. The oak hammocks are ribboned off with yellow caution tape.

Six months from now a child will play on this same land with never a thought or memory of horse breathe and orange Indian blanket flowers. Paved roads will lead in and paved roads will lead out. A mall will spring up as if pushed up from under the earth: a gas station, a mini mart, a new school. And if we were to suddenly abandon these newest landscape changes, what of the earth?

Turning away from the machines, I touch the petals of a bright yellow sunflower and gently smile … back to nature.

Gaillardia pulchella, commonly known as blanket flower or Indian blanket is a daisy-like native plant of North America. The bright flowers are multicolored in oranges, reds, and yellows. The leaves are soft and hairy. Gaillardia tolerates sandy soil, full sun and salty environments. Hardiness: Zones 8 to 10 Gaillardia is a perennial. This plant is an excellent addition to any garden and may be propagated easily from seed. Gaillardias should be divided and replanted every two or three seasons.

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