A Facebook friend had posted some photos of Pasture Thistle (Cirsium pumilum), so that was my cue to hike up to this mountainside meadow, the only place in all my wanderings I've ever found this gorgeous native wildflower. As thistles go, it's quite short, usually growing no more than knee or thigh high, but with huge rosy blooms almost as big as my fist. The flowers are so large and vivid, they're easy to spot, even among the many other meadow plants that surround them. I found quite a few up here, and all in beautiful fragrant bloom.
And I wasn't the only one who was glad to find these beautiful flowers: every single one was peppered with insects of many different kinds, feasting on the pollen. Most thistle flowers were serving as nuptial beds for mating Long-horned Flower Beetles, but this one had attracted a very busy Bumble Bee, two different species of beetle (one larger, one tiny), and a single Jagged Ambush Bug, doubtless waiting to snag an unwary insect visitor for dinner.
UPDATE: Or could what looks like a Bumble Bee be instead a Long-horned Thistle Bee (Melissodes desponsus), a bee species that feeds only on the pollen and nectar of Field and Pasture Thistles?
Those rosy-purple thistle blooms certainly set the color scheme for almost all of the other flowers blooming today. I loved how masses of Steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa) clung to the steep rocky ascent, their colorful flower spikes beautifully profiled against the dark shade of the surrounding forest.