January 23, 2019

Plant of the Month: Wild Geranium

geranium 1

It's Wildflower Wednesday, and I like to combine my "plant of the month" posts with Gail's meme over at Clay and Limestone. Check it out!


We just got about a foot of snow from two snowstorms in close succession. Normal for us in January, but obviously this means that no wildflowers are blooming in my garden.

geranium 5

Ah, that's better! So, I decided to think spring--in this case late spring. Wild Geraniums (G. maculatum) bloom in my garden from mid-May through early June. I've covered so many "plants of the month" and wildflowers over the years, and I was surprised to find I hadn't done a post on Wild Geraniums until now.

I was even more surprised to find how few photos I have of this plant, considering it's so prevalent in the area and in my garden. It likes the conditions here--described perfectly by Illinois Wildflowers: "light shade to partial sunlight, moist to slightly dry conditions, and rich loamy soil with abundant organic matter." Yes, that pretty much describes my garden. I will have to photograph this plant more this spring!

In the photo above, you'll notice the 10 stamens surrounding the five-chambered carpel/pistil with a five-parted stigma. Each flower has five petals, which vary in color from nearly white to pink and purple--although most are light lavender.

geranium 2

Wild Geranium is native to much of Eastern North America, in USDA zones 3-8, and it tolerates a broad range of conditions, beyond its preferred habitat. Also called Cranesbill and Spotted Cranesbill, its foliage persists throughout the growing season and turns beautiful variegated shades of rust and burgundy in the autumn. The deeply lobed foliage forms a mound, which creates a pleasant groundcover. This plant can often be found growing near Smooth Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) and other woodland and woodland-edge plants.

geranium 3

In this photo, you can see the seed capsules that form after the flowers fade. When mature, they burst to scatter seeds beyond the mother plant. It also spreads by rhizomes, although it's not aggressive.

geranium 4

Wild Geranium is listed as providing special value for native bees by the Xerces Society. I just discovered, through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center that the seeds attract mourning doves, bobwhite quail, and white-tailed deer. How cool is that?! (Do you know the name of the insect on the flower in this photo? I think it may be a snout beetle or a weevil of some sort.)

Head on over to Gail's Wildflower Wednesday meme to learn about wildflowers that bloom around the world.

January 09, 2019

Have You Seen the Angel Oak?

angel oak 1

If you're ever traveling near Charleston, S.C., you really must make an effort to see the "Angel Oak." This 400-500-year-old Southern Live Oak tree (Quercus virginiana) covers about 17,200 square feet and is 65 feet tall. It's thought to be one of the oldest living things in the U.S.


There's no charge to visit Angel Oak Park, located on Johns Island, just a few miles southwest of Charleston. It's quite an expansive property, with plenty of space to view, walk near, and explore below and among the branches of this amazing tree.

The day we were there, in March, the weather was misty, but comfortable. We were on our way between Charleston and Savanna, Ga. As always, I wish I'd had more time to explore, and of course pictures can't do it justice. But believe me, it was wonderful!

leaning in

While looking through my photos to decide which ones to post, I noticed the people in this photo were leaning in! This was very flat ground; not a hill. I find their posture with the tree fascinating.

leaning in cropped

Zooming in: Was it empathy and respect for this incredibly long-lived and stunningly beautiful tree that caused them to lean toward it?

resting branches

Some of the tree's branches are so large they're like separate trees, themselves. Many are so big and heavy that they rest on the ground, which only happens with the very oldest Live Oaks.


The main trunk has a circumference of 28 feet.

supporting life

There are so many awesome features of this tree, but what really hit me and amazed me on observing it was that it's obviously a complex ecosystem unto itself--a community of living and nonliving things that work together. The knots, the bark, the branches, and the tree holes support insects, birds, mammals, fungi, mosses, lichens, bromeliads, and other life forms. I could have spent hours studying all the nooks and crannies and secret treasures.

ferns and mosses


spanish moss

Love the Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides)!

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Good memories; amazing tree! Have you seen it?