Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday: Holiday Review Edition

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!


  1. Rose, You are the bestest~I know grammatical incorrect, but, when one is the bestest, one has to allow it! What a pleasure it was to read this post and feel your wildflower enthusiasm...It really is contagious! Btw, I use the Illinois site, MOBOT and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center as resources. I am thrilled to have you be a champion of wildflowers. Happy Holidays to you and the whole Prairie Rose clan! Sophie looks so festive and patient! xxoogail ps Thank you for the accolades~

  2. What fun seeing all that COLOR. It is a sight for winter sore eyes, and winter has only just begun. Love seeing your mantle all prepared for the onrush of family. I know you will have a great time together gathered there in your great room. Tell Sophie that Luna knows just how she feels when she has to wear her reindeer antlers because she has to wear a collar with jingle bells on it from time to time for the holidays. :) Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  3. That Kurz book is invaluable, Rose. It has helped me out many a time in Illinois and even here in northern Florida since we share some of the same natives. From the looks of your mantle, you must have quite a few stocking stuffers stashed away somewhere. Sophie is probably the one you have to worry about the most finding the goodies. Our cat has been known to open kitchen cabinets and drag out her food and treats.

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones. Stay warm and safe this winter!

  4. I ditto what Gail says-you are the bestest! Ever since I saw the gray headed coneflower on your blog I've been seeing it everywhere. So pretty! Give Sophie hugs I wish you and your family a very wonderful Christmas!

  5. I loved seeing all these wildflower blooms while the view outside my window is brown and cold. A little touch of summer!

  6. Rose, I'm in total agreement with Gail ... you're 'the bestest'! Christmas Blessings.

  7. Gail, Thank you again for introducing me to these lovely beauties! And thanks for the tips on the other two resources; I haven't checked out MOBOT in awhile but I know it's an excellent resource. "Patient" is definitely the word to describe Sophie here:)

    Lisa, The mantle is down in the basement, which you didn't get to see when you were here. Lots of room there to spread out, so the kids can play with their new toys to their hearts' content. Sophie wasn't too thrilled with the antlers, as you can tell:)

    W2W, I think I spend more time shopping for stocking stuffers than anything else:) But my kids have said how much fun they are and won't let me stop this tradition. I learned the hard way one year not to fill Sophie's or the cats' stockings until the last minute:)

    Tina, Thanks so much; you are such a faithful reader, and I appreciate it! I'm hoping this year I can add some gray-headed coneflowers to my own garden.

    Laurrie, It's fun to go through the photo files and see some colorful images of the summer. It's definitely cold here, too, and more snow in the forecast for Christmas Eve.

    Joey, Thanks for those sweet words! I hope you're having a white Christmas in Michigan, too.

  8. All that colour is the perfect anodyne to the grey, rainy, galeridden days we're having. Happy, happy Christmas to you and yours, Rose! May your obedient plants be more obedient, your pollinators thrive, and your garden be as joyous as it's been these past years.

  9. Sophie looks ready to lead Santa's Sleigh…

    Merry Christmas…

  10. My verification word is sepal ... how appropriate is that? Loved this post, love the wildflowers, love that picture of Sophie! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  11. There's so many beautiful flowers you've discovered here. How wonderful to find them when you never knew they existed. I ponder the weed or wildflower question often.

  12. You have wonderful wildflowers, and I like the retrospective! Merry Christmas!

  13. I love Queen Anne's lace (and that it is an unruly carrot). It's neat you have pokeweed out your way. It is weedy in my yard but the magenta stems and berries in the fall make up for it.

  14. It is lovely to see flowers and green grass and no snow!
    Your doggie/reindeer makes a great picture and I just love your header!
    Merry Christmas.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  15. How nice to see flowers again!! Seems like forever-ago that our gardens bloomed. And such an informative post, as always.

    Loved your "reindeer" at the end of the post.

    Wanted to let you know that as usual you hit the nail on the head (re my blog post "renovations"). The focus was on funny - not frustrating (although it was that too) LOL! You always seem to know exactly where I'm coming from.

    I hope you got your patio door installed. I do still have lots to do to get the house ready. Will be glad when it's all over. It's looking fresher already with most of the painting done now.

    Let me wish you and your family a joyous and peaceful Christmas, my friend.
    Hugs for the holidays

  16. Hello Rose,

    Oh, I do love the snowy picture. I look forward to seeing next year's wildflowers.

    I wish for you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

  17. Rose your dog is adorable! What a beautiful shot from Meadowbrook Park. I agree that Goldenrod adds nice winter interest. I like the seedheads even better than the flowers. They're so graceful.

    Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays!

  18. how cute your dogs, the flower is beautiful.

    Just like to share with you a funny quotes...

    "California is a fine place to live - if you happen to be an orange." -- Fred Allen

    You can get more funny quotes at

  19. Oh, I love the snow and green together in a post. One so present and the other past and future. Merry Christmas to you Rose. Peace and Joy in the coming year.

  20. So lovely to see all those blooms, especially at this time of year. And as for the last photo - so fantasic, the children and I loved it!

    Merry Christmas Rose x

  21. Those frosty plumes are beautiful! It looks like you had even more snow than we did - and ours is finally melting a little.

    A very happy Christmas to you and yours too, Rose. George sends an especial Christmas woof to Sophie! x

  22. Good to see flowers Rose ~ much too white here for anything but frosty fern formations on the greenhouse windows. Wishing you a most happy Christmas and may the New Year treat you and your garden kindly xxx

  23. beautiful photos. merry christmas rose :)

  24. Merry Christmas Rose! For once our frosted gardens look very similar ;)

    Hope your grandchildren enjoy their 'paper jam' and 'zoobles' - I haven't aclue what they are either!

    See you again in 2011 :)

  25. Thanks to all of you for stopping by and taking time to leave a comment. It's Christmas Eve morning, and all the children and grands will be coming over after church tonight for our get-together and the chaos of opening presents, so I need to get busy. It does seem a little pointless cleaning house, though, when it will look like the aftermath of a tornado later tonight:)

    Wishing all of you a joyous holiday!

  26. So nice to see that blooming profusion, Rose. I must say, it has me thinking of Spring and looking forward to the garden waking. I have always loved wildflowers, and like you have learned so much more about them visiting everyone's blogs thanks to Gail's inspiration to celebrate them monthly.

    Merry Christmas, Rose, and happy New Year. Give Sophie a big kiss for me, and tell her Bo is suffering the same indignities of having to wear antlers for Christmas.

  27. Great posting of some great wildflowers Rose!
    Merry Christmas to you, love the header with all the stockings hung by the fire.

  28. I think it's wonderful you have untamed areas on your land Rose, with their wildflowers and wildlife.

    Sophie is looking very patient and festive in her reindeer getup!

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

  29. Rose I can't wait for winter to be over and catch a glimpse of our early wild flowers appearing again. I have some of your wild flowers growing here in my Scottish garden aswell.

    I hope you had a lovely Christmas with your loved ones.

  30. Poor Sophie, lol! :) Hope you had a wonderful Christmas Rose. :)


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