Thistles have a bad rap. It is true that they are very prickly, but I like to think this is just because they really like where they’re growing and don’t want to be uprooted. It’s unfortunate that they aren’t considered a beneficial plant because they are very useful plant. They are a favorite nectar source for many native bees and butterflies, and birds love their seeds. They have purported medicinal benefits as well.
While I think thistles in bloom are beautiful, I find the dried thistle stems absolutely fascinating. They have amazing form and texture.
One of my favorite autumn walks at Eagle Creek circles around a reservoir which serves as a bird sanctuary. About half the trail is a built up berm that crosses the reservoir and then borders it closely on one side. It receives direct sunlight (so it’s a bit warm for a summer hike) and tons of wild grasses and flowers grow along the trail. If you’re careful and quiet you can see a host of wildlife – tons of insects, frogs, birds… It’s a popular haunt for fishermen too. As fall comes the grasses and shrubs put on their colorful garb and decorate themselves with berries and seedpods. It’s a feast for the eyes and senses.
Blessings to you,