June 26, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday:
Chance encounters, revisited

fourflower

Last autumn--on a clear, crisp September day--my family was forced to stop on a very rural highway because of a flat tire. No big deal, of course, and it happens to most of us at some point.

I wrote a post about that experience, and about the fact that the inconvenience provided an opportunity. (To read about it, you can click on the link in the previous sentence.)

Long story short, while the more talented tire-changers were dealing with the tire, I took the gift of time to investigate the surrounding wildflowers. As it was September, most plants were on the decline and setting seed.

Fast forward to June 2013. I thought it might be fun to try to find that same spot and see if any of the wildflowers were blooming. The fishman--being the excellent tire-changer and good sport that he is--agreed to hunt for it.

One disclaimer: On both occasions, the only camera I had along was my smartphone. It performs better with plenty of light, but suffices under the right conditions.

It took us a while to find the exact same spot, but here's what we found this time:

road

An ordinary swath dominated by tall Grasses and escaped flowering Alfalfa by the side of the road.

field

The expanse of the combined Grass border and the Alfalfa crop was quite pleasant and pastoral from a distance. But upon closer examination, we also found:

puccoon
Hoary Puccoon (Lithospermum canescens)

spiderwort
Spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis)

yarrow
Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

campion
White Campion (Silene alba) (non-native)

milkweed
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

We also found a delightful surprise:

rosegrass

Did you see the hidden dots of pink among the various Milkweeds and Grasses?

rose2

Wild Roses were blooming--buried in the Grasses! And to think you could only see them if you stopped to look closely. I believe this variety is Rosa carolina, based on various descriptions and the pigment in the petals. It is native throughout most of the Eastern U.S. and Canada.

I was very excited about all of these wildflower finds. The fishman reminded me that it could have been any other roadside, and of course he was right. But it's nice to get to know a particular spot and revisit it during different seasons and times.

We own a modest "cottage" near the "flat-tire/wildflower hangout." I have to admit several non-native plants need attention on the lot. But they are beautiful. These include:

hawkweed
Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum)

goatsbeard
Goat's Beard seedhead (Tragopogon dubius)

...and of course plenty of common Dandelions. Lots of upkeep, inside and out, but I look forward to returning soon. The next time we visit, we'll have fruit for foraging:

mulberry
Mulberries (Morus rubra)

blackcaps
Blackcap Raspberries (Rubus occidentalis)

Oh, and the mystery plant that I couldn't identify last fall?



fouroclocks
Four-O'Clocks (Mirabilis nyctaginea)

























































It was Four-O'Clocks--the same plant as shown at the beginning of this post!

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I'm linking in with Gail's Wildflower Wednesday at Clay and Limestone. Head on over to her blog to see wildflowers on display in many other locales.

47 comments:

  1. Oh Beth what a fabulous find in that meadow...I was oooing and ahhhing the whole way through...and even all the lovelies at your modest cottage. That rose is a real find by the way. I finally planted swamp roses and hope to see them flower soon.

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    1. Yes, it was fun. And I can see the attraction of geocaching! Hunting down clues and coordinates to find a geographic location would be a fun challenge. I can't wait to hear about/see pictures of your Roses!

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  2. Enjoyed this . . . especially the Goat's Beard seedhead . . .

    Not far from where we walk in the morning there is a partial vacant area filled with Sweet Peas and Lupine. A bit further there is a huge vacant lot where I have found Wild Butterfly Bush . . . brilliant orange. I am hoping for a repeat this year, although with all the rain I may have a wait!

    You inspired me . . . I am off to take some pictures . . .

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    1. Oh, your location sounds lovely, too. I can't wait for your blog post!

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  3. It's been a great year for native plants! Most of the natives pulled through the drought better than other plants last year which could be why they are doing so well this year. Did you take these pictures in Wisco?

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    1. Yes, our plants sure experience the extremes here, don't they? Did you have flooding up in your part of the state? By the way, these pictures were taken at a farm field near Montello. ;-)

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  4. That was such a great idea and thank you for sharing. I love Rosa carolina and am trying to get it established here. It would be happier with more moisture, but seeing it under all the grasses gives me hope in my wilderness. BTW, I love the flowers of Hawkweed and I think dandelions are pretty, too. Happy WW to you!

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    1. Thanks for hosting, Gail! Now I look forward to going back in July when all the Milkweed will be blooming! We've had a very wet spring/summer so far. I'm not complaining, though. With the rain and the recent hot sun, I'm sure that's why some of these plants are so happy. ;-)

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  5. We've all been there haven't we! Great that you had the gumption to get the camera out at the time and of course to revisit. Everytime you pass there now - you will be reminded of the pretty wildflowers growing there.
    Beautiful pictures. Smartphones aren't so bad. Mines takes better macro that my camera!

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    1. Yes, flat tires are a common frustration. Thanks for your kind comments. My smartphone takes great, focused photos -- unless the plants/my hands are jiggling too much or the light is low. But I managed to get a few decent shots.

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  6. Of course you had to return to the same spot. I enjoyed seeing so much in just the one little patch. The roses are so special.

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    1. The Roses surprised me--so many of them hiding in the grass! And such a pretty color. All the plants were located on two sides of a quiet country road. I don't think any other cars passed by during our second visit!

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  7. I always check out the wildflowers too, I guess it goes with the gardening addiction territory. So many lovely wildflowers, the Spiderwort is a beautiful purple. The top White Campion flower looks like a woman with a white bodice and a green streaked ballroom skirt. There are no wild milkweeds where I live, I have a tiny Asclepias tuberosa I bought mailorder this year but it is so small I'm afraid to plant it out. I've been wanting to grow milkweed to see what butterflies it might attract.

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    1. Yes--that plant/gardening addiction is a strong force! The Spiderwort was all over the place. I thought it was especially pretty mixing with the Four-O'Clocks. Good luck with the Milkweed. There's quite a bit of it in the county where I live and even more north of here. I planted some in my garden this year--some Asclepias plants will bloom soon!

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  8. How lovely to find wildflowers on the side of the road!
    Maybe you can collect some seed to grow in your own garden.
    Have a wonderful day!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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    1. Hmmmm ... interesting idea. Thanks, Lea!

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  9. Love all of the wildflowers you found...amazing to see them at the side of the road. That's the look we're trying to get in our own yards but there they were, all 'naturally' there, with no intervention. Who woulda thunk it?! Just kidding, of course. They ARE wild and DO exist naturally. I just hope more of us will see them more frequently. Meanwhile, we keep planting...

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    1. Yes, I agree. Kind of funny to think that humans pulled out all these lovely plants when they started suburbs and built their houses. We could have started with all the beauty in natural gardens (maybe moving it around a bit, but still). ;-)

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  10. Beautiful series of shots, especially the one of the wildflowers and grasses along the side of the road.

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    1. Thanks, Karen! It's a pretty spot, but as the hubby says, not really very unique. We just need to stop and take time to see all the beauty in "common" places.

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  11. How cool that you were able to go back to that area and see all of those blooms. I'm thinking orange hawkweed is native to SE Nebraska, but I'm not remembering where you are. I'm thinking east somewhere.

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    1. Hi Sue: Yes, it was fun! I'm in Wisconsin. The US Forest Service says Hawkweed is native to northern and central Europe, but introduced to many states in the U.S. Some states consider it a noxious weed. Apparently, it tends to disappear when grasses or native groundcovers are encouraged. I think it's very pretty, but I realize we need to try to discourage it so it doesn't take over.

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  12. How fun! I can so see myself doing the same thing :)
    Beautiful photos - your phone takes much clearer photos than mine! Thanks for sharing. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca! The phone seems to do a pretty good job with enough light. Sometimes the landscape shots aren't the best, but with lots of sun, it's OK for posting on the Web.

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  13. I love when "accidents give us the chance to explore. Where I live there roads and fields that at start of spring offer great plants to enjoy. with your post I know know more about other wildflower and plants. Thanks!

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    1. I imagine where you live in the Mediterranean, you have year-round plant life to explore. Lucky you!

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  14. I love the Carolina rose, such a nice surprise and usually in among the nasty multi-flora.

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    1. Yes, it is quite the pretty little Rose! And they were at such a lovely stage of flowering when we happened by.

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  15. I love finding wildflowers! I don't know a lot of the names, though. In fact, you identified one for me that I've been seeing frequently (the non-native White Campion). My next house has a field in it that I want to fill with wildflowers and turn into a meadow with lots of blooms!

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    1. I'm learning. Sometimes I have the names in my head, but I can't pull them out very fast when people ask. Other times, I don't know or I just forget. I know I've seen the White Campion for years, but I had to look that one up.

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  16. A lovely selection of wildflowers. And how can anyone not like a flower called Hoary Puccoon?

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    1. Ha! Yes, that is a great name, isn't it? It's one of the wildflowers we saw during our master naturalist field trip, too. But I got a slightly better shot of it the other day. It really is that bright.

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  17. you stopped to smell the flowers i can never get my husband to stop for these opportunities!...great to see it with you thanks

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    1. Yes, and I'm realizing I need to continue to do so, and do it more often. Sometimes it's hard to do, but I never regret the "waste of time."

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  18. You sure made the most of your time while the tire was being changed!! Great discoveries. It makes you think what you might be missing speeding along the roadways....

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    1. Thanks, Kathleen. Yes, in our society we really do rush around too much. I'm trying to improve in this area of my life ... making some progress. ;-)

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  19. It’s true, this could have been any roadside, in many countries, it could very well have been over here in Britain or in Norway where I am from I think, although I don’t recognise all the plants but most of them. But even if it is ‘just a roadside’ I bet this spot now have become quite special to you :-)
    Great photos up-close, we don’t appreciate what whisks pasts us in the car so it was an excellent idea to go back and take new photos on a different time of year. Will there now be a follow up next year in January and April to complete the 4 seasons?

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    1. You captured my sentiments exactly, Helene, and you are very wise. I've been thinking lately about how miracles are all around us no matter where we live. Someday I hope to get to the British Isles to see your beautiful part of the world. And yes, I do hope to go back to that spot now that I know where it is. ;-)

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  20. What a fun experiment you did! I find myself admiring wildflowers when I'm driving around but I've never thought to photograph them and go back months later and see what's changed. I think your phone pics looks great!

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    1. Thanks! I don't do it very often either--usually at rest stops or at my travel destination, but rarely at the side of the road on the way. That's what happens when you have a flat tire ... and then think about the same spot later. ;-)

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  21. what a delightful thing to do , it is indeed a wonderful experience to look for wildflowers.

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    1. Yes, I can think of very few things I'd rather do on a bright summer day (or spring or autumn). ;-)

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  22. What a great idea....I love to revisit certain spots throughout the year and see what is growing there. Of course it wasn't the flat tire thank goodness that made me do it.

    And I saw some wildflowers that grow here, of which I didn't know the name of...thanks.

    Jen

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    1. Yes, I guess I have a flat tire to thank for this fun adventure. Another lesson learned!

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  23. You identified a plant that I could not for the longest time, Goat's Beard. Thank you.

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    1. Sure--I had to look it up, too. It's pretty common around here, but I'm still working on remembering all the wildflower names.

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  24. Is that orange hawkweed a problem?
    Or does it count as a wildflower?
    That would fit so well on my Karoo Koppie where I look for Autumn Fire in orange and red flowers.

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