Wildflower meadow at Hockomock Swamp. The cicadas are actually so loud my ears were ringing once I passed through and was back in the trees.
Wish I'd gone earlier in the season, there were still some wildflowers around but from what was left... the intermittent meadows must be popping with color in July and August.
Some of the flowers I saw were: red clover, milkweed (flowers mostly gone, pods growing), goldenrod, bull thistle, yellow thistle, Queen Anne's lace, aster... and a whole bunch of other stuff I couldn't identify (I'm also not sure what type of aster oops)
I don’t know how many of you are gardeners, whether gardening your piece of the Earth or visiting gardens, or are interested in the topic. This article from the New York Times tells us about Darrel Morrison, an “ecological landscaper” who adheres to the idea of planting that which is native to a particular plot of land. My spouse and I evolved over the years from landscaping and gardening as a typical “suburban” thing, planting stuff that wasn’t native but was planted by everyone else, to landscaping today by planting only that which is native, or nurturing the “accidental” plants that grow from seeds that blew into our yard or were dropped here by bird poop or wildlife scat. We’ve learned over the last few years that, for the first time, we have a problem of abundance. Nothing native does not grow in our yards, wider and taller and lusher. It’s as if nature is telling us, “I told you so, you just didn’t listen before.”
Excerpt from this New York Times story:
Some gardeners react to any mention of ecological landscaping — the merging of environmental science and art — as if it were a compromise or concession meant to limit their creativity. Darrel Morrison, a landscape architect who has been practicing and teaching this philosophy for some five decades, begs to differ.
“There is the implication that you are suggesting a vegan diet,” said Mr. Morrison, the creator of influential designs at Storm King Art Center, in Orange County, N.Y., the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. “A lot of people, when they hear a phrase like ‘ecologically sound landscaping,’ they think they are giving up something. But they are not — it only enhances the experience.”
From his perspective, the real compromise would be focusing purely on the ornamental aspect of our landscape designs, large or small. It’s in the boxwood-and-vinca world that we risk suffering from sensory deprivation, he asserts — not when we use native plants in designs inspired by wild plant communities.
What happens when each plant is chosen and placed purely for show, with no other potential attributes considered? “It looks good,” he said. “Then it’s gone.”
Couple of examples from today. We noticed this plant growing since spring in our “back 40″ garden. No idea what it was. I swore it was a fern, wife said ok. Then it got bigger, but I stuck with the fern id, wife said nope, maybe a sumac. I noticed that the plant is now about 6 feet tall with spikes of bright yellow flowers. That ain’t a fern. I used iNaturalist and identified it as Wild Senna. That’s the first photo. Then the second photo shows a line of black-eyed Susans (maybe brown-eyed Susans, but I’m not hung up on the distinction) growing beneath the Wild Senna that wasn’t there last year. They just started growing where they are now this spring. It looks like they’ve been there for years. All this over about four square feet of dirt.
I have a problem and it’s called native wildflower landscaping.
There’s a program in my area called “Grow Native!” (the exclamation point is important, yes) to encourage this sort of thing. I have gone to my local nursery twice this week to buy plants. I am driving across the city tomorrow to buy other, different plants. And the inventory list for yet a third plant sale just dropped and I want them.
The front beds are already full of creeping phlox, but I’m adding poppy mallow, Ozark sundrop, false indigo, beardtongue, and coreopsis to the mix, and maybe St. John’s Wort if I can get it. Along the side, if the wintercreeper doesn’t defeat me, I’ve put some wild strawberry in the ground and I’m hoping to add bee balm, bluestar, and milkweed, and maybe a cardinal flower or two.
Last year I tried to do more extensive work in the back, which has the double problem of deep shade most of the day and crummy clay soil. The celandine poppies came back like gangbusters, as did the Sweet William I accidentally uprooted, the goat’s beard I thought I’d lost to an unfortunate weed-whacker incident, and the spikenard and turtlehead that I was pretty sure died from under-watering. I also managed to sow some Blue-Eyed Mary last fall that has come up delightfully. This year I’ve added columbines, New England aster, native stonecrop, and I’m in the market for alumroot, Jacob’s Ladder, and possible some Solomon’s Seal or Indian Pink. I’m also taking a second stab at wild ginger, which didn’t do so well last year (might be the location).
I want spice bushes and Virginia creeper and native hydrangeas and honeysuckle and blazing star and bush clover and copper iris but I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO PUT ANY OF IT.
(And this isn’t even accounting for the vegetable garden...)