If you’ve driven by Eagle Marsh at 45 mph, you may have seen only a blur of the thousands of early-fall sunflowers. You may have thought the scene was pretty. You may have even said, “I really should take a walk there.”
You really should. Honestly, there’s really nothing quite like Eagle Marsh, part of Little River Wetlands Project (LRWP), is located on Engle Road between Smith Road and Jefferson Blvd. In September, the wetland dazzles with sunflowers in a stunning display of yellows and greens. For a true, I-can’t-believe-what-I’m-seeing experience, walk the gravel road toward the barn in the hour before sunset. Dramatic streaks of orange, gold, or pink light electrify the seven-foot-tall sunflowers. Often, a light wind sways the flowers in a hypnotic interplay of color and sound. You can remark on its beauty from the road—or you can get in there and feel its power.
Dense vegetation muffles traffic noise along Engle Road. By the time you reach the barn, all you hear is the rustling of sunflowers, humming insects, and chattering birds. Linger a bit at the picnic tables at the end of the road. Or walk east of the barn to Trail #8 to be tunneled in by sunflowers along a half-mile loop trail. Sawtooth sunflower (Helianthus grosseserratus) is the dominate flower. Other species blossom in shades ranging from pale yellow to deeply-hued gold. Look for scatterings of common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), fragrant goldenrods (Solidago spp.) and maypole-shaped wingstem flowers (Verbesina alternifolia) tucked in among the sunflowers. Bur marigolds (Bidens spp.), a shorter plant with lemon-yellow flowers, are abundant near the barn. This extraordinary display of wildflowers has a calming effect on the human mind; simultaneously, the flowers are fulfilling their higher purpose for non-humans. September flowers are an important late-season food source for birds, butterflies, and other pollinators migrating south or storing up for the winter.
Work can be hard. Kids can be frustrating. Problems can be exhausting. Studies have shown that watching a sunset can inspire awe. A walk in a natural space can alleviate symptoms of depression. The color yellow has long been associated with feelings of cheerfulness and energy. In September, Eagle Marsh gives you all three.
Restore balance in your life with a 30-minute stroll along Eagle Marsh’s dry gravel road in the late afternoon or early morning hours. Trails are free to walk, and open dawn to dusk daily. Because Eagle Marsh is home to sensitive wildlife and bird populations, dogs are not allowed in the preserve. You can learn more about native flowers and plants from the Northeast Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of upcoming events. For more information about Eagle Marsh and LRWP, visit www.lrwp.org.