Wildflowers in full bloom on the prairie

Fran Brownell

Gracie Bronson of rural Sawyer loves spring, but then again, she said she also loves summer and fall for the same reason,

“I love flowers.” Bronson said. “I think wildflowers are a wonderful evidence for the existence of God.”

The 35-year-old Mississippi native shares her love of flowers on social media by posting pictures of wildflowers in bloom in neighboring fields and of floral arrangements she creates to brighten the home she shares with husband Eric and their two daughters, Sophie, 9. and Emma, 7.

The mother-and-daughter threesome become a party of five on most of their walks to enjoy the beauty of flowers they know by heart and to seek out new varieties.

“Our dogs are part of the adventure,” Bronson said. “They love to go out and look for wild flowers.”

Pepper, an English Shepherd, and Mr. Salt, a German-and-Australian-Shepard-mix, frolic as mother and daughters keep an eye out for a blossom they haven’t seen before and revel in the beauty of the varieties they’ve collected over the seasons.

When a new species of bloom is found, one of the blooms is collected.

Bronson said as soon as they return home, she, Sophie and Emma rush to do the research to learn about it.

“We look it up in our Kansas Wildflower and Weeds reference book or go online to www.kswildflower.org to learn about it,” Bronson said. “The girls get excited when they find a picture that exactly matches the ones they’re holding in their hands.”

On the days they gather flowers, Bronson arranges them in vases which she’s saved from floral bouquets she’s received as special occasion gifts throughout the years.

“More gorgeous Kansas wildflowers!” Bronson says describing one of her floral postings on Facebook. “So many colors and varieties! My girls have picked so many that we have vases full in every room.”

Also on her Facebook Page, Bronson’s photo of a field of Tuber False Dandelions, brought the response from Pratt resident Tammy Thimesch,

“Oh, my goodness. Praise Jesus,” Thimesch said about the tuber flowers.

Of the myriad varieties of wildflowers she’s gathered, Bronson has several favorites. She calls attention to the Scarlet Globe Mallow for its beautiful orange-coral color, to the Lemon Citron Saint Paintbrush, dubbed the yellow Kansas relative of Indian Paintbrush, and to the Carolina Anemone, among others.

“I am so excited to share my love for Kansas wildflowers,” Bronson said. “I am convinced that Kansas if full of natural beauty. A lot of the country thinks of us as barren, flat wasteland, but Kansas is gorgeous! Kansas countryside is home to a vast array of wildflowers.The spring varieties are out in full force right now.”

“So much beauty, coming back year after year with no help from us at all,” Bronson said.

As well as picking, photographing and arranging wildflowers, Bronson uses her artistic talent to capture the flowers’ beauty on canvas and she shares her talent at the easel as one of the art instructors affiliated with Pratt’s Vernon Filley Art Museum.