It's time for another Wildflower Wednesday, hosted as always by the delightful Gail at Clay and Limestone. While I have no wildflowers in bloom at the present other than the frosty plumes above, I thought this final WW of the year would be a good time to review some of the wildflowers I have showcased the past few months.
Even before she invited others to join her on the last Wednesday of every month, Gail was celebrating the beauty of wildflowers and native plants in so many of her posts. My knowledge of wildflowers in particular was woefully lacking at first, but I have learned so much from Gail and others who have shared their favorites the past few years. With help from my two faithful resources, Illinois Wildflowers by Don Kurz, and the excellent website, Illinois Wildflowers, I took the plunge this past summer and joined in on WW.
At first, I didn't think I had any wildflowers growing in my garden and ventured to nearby places for inspiration, such as Meadowbrook Park, shown above, where I found the gray-headed coneflower Ratibida pinnata happily mingling with Monarda fistulosa and other natives.
But as I thought about it more, I realized I do have some wildflowers growing here, particularly out in back in what I might kindly call the "uncultivated area" (translate--around the farm outbuildings, where Mr. P doesn't always find the time to trim). Some purists, or those who prefer a well-manicured look, would argue that many of these are weeds, but there is a fine line sometimes between "wildflowers" and "weeds." After all, as someone once wisely said, "A weed is just a flower in the wrong place." I would think even purists would have a hard time classifying one of my favorites, Queen Anne's Lace Daucus carota, as a weed when they look at these delicate flowers.
And I've always had a soft spot for the perfectly blue flowers of chicory Cichorium intybus, which can be found blooming profusely around our barn as well as along the roadsides during an Illinois summer.
On the other hand, I'm not so fond of thistle and would definitely consider this a weed. However, it does have its positive traits, including being attractive to pollinators and goldfinches.
As my curiosity grew, I began to explore the "back forty" more and tried to identify more of the volunteers growing around here. Early this fall I found this tall weed suddenly covered with small white flowers.
It was serendipitous that I never got around to cutting back all these plants, because they turned out to be the Frost Aster Aster pilosus (also shown today in first photo). Though they wouldn't probably fit into a formal garden, they would make a nice addition to a native planting, especially since they bloom when most other plants are turning brown and provide a food source for any pollinators still in residence.
My biggest find, though, had to be the discovery I made thanks to one of Sophie's ventures across the fields. To my surprise, I found these purple berries behind the barn one day on a huge plant I later learned was pokeweed Phytolacca americana. I soon learned that the "poke salad" I associated with southern states was also a native here in the Midwest.
Not every wildflower here, however, is the result of a lack of weeding. I planted this Obedient plant Physostegia virginiana in the Butterfly Garden a year ago in hopes it would multiply. It certainly obliged this year; I just hope it is more "obedient" and doesn't get too carried away next year.
None of the goldenrod I have growing here was intentionally planted, but many gardeners have added cultivars of this native plant to their gardens for its fall beauty. Mine isn't quite as tidy as those tamer cultivars, but it's just as pretty, I think, and a favorite of all kinds of pollinators.
It even adds some definite winter interest.
Other wildflowers have been cultivated and hybridized, including my favorite flower of all, the purple coneflower. While I would call these Echinacea purpureas--but not their fancier hybrid progeny--natives, they are still all descendants of the original wildflowers, including the prairie coneflower, Echinacea pallida.
If you would like to know more about any of these plants, you can click on the label "Wildflower Wednesday" on my sidebar for the original posts (sorry I didn't take time to add the links here). It's been an enjoyable and enlightening experience learning more about wildflowers, and I want to thank Gail for encouraging all of us to participate. Why not drop by her blog today to see other entries, and maybe you'll decide to join us next time!
Since this is the last time I'll post before Christmas, I want to extend holiday greetings to all of you, my dear blogging friends:
From everyone at my house to yours . . .
A Very Merry Christmas!