Sunday, May 08, 2016


 This, my friends, is the humble Gumbo Lily
from which this blog name has it's origins.

The gumbo lily (Oenothera caespitosa) grows in gumbo soil which is a very heavy clay soil.
When it rains, gumbo becomes very slimy and sticky and then drys and cracks when  as you see in the picture above.  It does not grow much grass, but only a few select flowers and forbs which can sustain a life in hard clay. The roots of the gumbo lily go down deep as a tap root.  I've tried to transplant them in years past without success.  Either I didn't get enough of the root, or the soil conditions were not right for it to thrive -- or possibly both.  I've always considered myself akin to the gumbo lily.  When I first moved out to the ranch as a young bride of 19, I didn't know how well I'd adapt to lonely prairie life, but as the years passed, I began to put down my root deeper and deeper into the soil of the land and life, and now I doubt you could pull up enough root to transplant me anywhere else.  This is where I belong.

Hubby picked  gumbo lilies for me this Mother's Day.  
I wish you could smell them.  Heavenly.

 Hubby and I went out feeding and checking livestock this morning.  I hope you'll enjoy the pictures I took below.  The cows and calves are very content in their summer pasture.  The calves below are branded and turned out.  There are others yet to be branded and vaccinated before we can take them out to their summer pastures.

Lambert's Locoweed ( Oxytropis lambertii) purple
 White locoweed (Oxytropis sericea Nuttall)

Locoweed is just what it sounds like.  A weed, although beautiful, that can make livestock crazy or actually poison them and kill them.  Most of the time, livestock avoids these plants, but occasionally, they will ingest the weeds when the grass is tall and covers them up.  We think we lost a cow this spring to locoweed or more likely to Meadown Death Camas.  It looks very much like wild onions that grown rampantly on our prairie.  It is said to be more poisonous than strychnine.  Thankfully we had a cow mama that had needed a baby, so we grafted the calf on her.


The apple tree in bloom on the right has it's origins in an apple seed.  Hubby used to throw his apple cores over the shop roof for fun, and one day an apple tree sprouted and grew.  So far we've only had one apple crop from it, and every year I am hopeful for another.  The apple tree on the right is one Hubby and I planted called Northern Lights.  It has produced a handful of small apples, but never much.  It's still young.  Do you see the bucket of apple blossom stems in the right-hand pic?

I'm experimenting.

Maryann, an 80 year old nursery owner, told my husband that when you have a plum tree with no other tree to pollinate it with, you can cut some branches from another plum tree and put them in a bucket beside the one you wish to pollinate.  Well, I thought that was such a brilliant idea, that I decided I'd try it with my own apple trees.  I cut branches from the Shop Apple Tree and put them by my Northern Lights to see if it might help it to pollinate.  I also took some branches from an old Whitney Crab tree from the pasture and brought them over to the Shop Apple Tree to see if it might help it to pollinate.  I'm just trying to be a Good Garden Fairy.  I hope that spreading the fairy dust helps!

 Little American Goldfinches are visiting my backyard in their yellow tuxedos!

I hope you're having a wonderful Mother's Day today.  I'm enjoying the outdoors!


  1. Love the Gumbo Lilies! Hope the cows don't eat the locoweed. Hope your pollinating tricks work. Happy Mother's Day!

  2. Beautiful prairie flowers! You are an excellent garden fairy!

  3. I love this post Jody! I love that you've set your roots so deep. Very interesting about your cows -- it seems so easy for them to eat the wrong thing -- it's a wonder that it doesn't happen more often. And that photo of the little finch and the tulips is just beautiful -- I LOVE the pink and the yellow together -- Very Spring!

  4. So interesting to know. And such a pretty flower. Another great post, Jody.

  5. I love the story of that flower Gumbo Lily. That is so awesome. I have never heard that about pollination but I think It would be nice to try. I hope it works for you.
    I love the stories that you told with each picture. I find it so interesting.

  6. It's always interesting to read about your life on the prairies as a wife, mother, grandmother and farmer. The elderly lady garden nursery owner's tip about a way to pollinate a fruit tree if no other is nearby is fascinating. She sounds like an experienced horticulturalist. Glad you had a blessed Mother's Day.

  7. Popping in to say hello after reconnecting with some of the Coffee Shoppe gang on Facebook. Once again, just like old times, you inspire me with practical wisdom. I hope your branch cuttings work beautifully and that you have a fruitful crop!

    1. Hi Dixymiss! So glad you stopped by. Wonderful to see your name here and hoping all is well with you and yours.

  8. Such beautiful flowers and cows! I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day, Jody!


  9. I hope your apple tree experiment is a success! My dad and I planted two crabapple trees about 15 years ago. I had just about forgotten about them years later. Then one day I spied some red "things" on one of them from a distance. On closer inspection I found I had a good harvest of crabapples waiting to be made into jelly!

  10. I am very interested in that pollination experiment! No one ever suggested such a thing when I was planting my plum trees, so I have two, when I really only wanted one...

    Thank you for telling us once more the Gumbo Lily story of your own life blooming on the prairie. I needed to hear all about that tap root. God bless you for your loving heart that was willing to send down roots for the sake of your husband and family.


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