Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday and Other Spring Blooms

Welcome to another edition of Wildflower Wednesday, a monthly celebration of wildflowers hosted by the gracious hostess to all pollinators, Gail at Clay and Limestone.  In fact, Gail has designated this whole week as Wildflower Week, so why not join in the celebration?

Unfortunately, my garden is not home to many spring wildflowers.  Judging by all the seedlings of native Rudbeckias, Obedient Plant, Monarda, and other unidentified plants popping up all over my butterfly garden this spring, I will have a bounty of wildflowers/natives to share on upcoming WW's.  But for now, the only true wildflowers I have are pretty common ones--and not necessarily plants you are excited to see blooming in your garden.

Viola papilionacea, the common violet, is sprouting up everywhere.  My granddaughter loves these and calls the little flowers "bluebirds."  It's hard not to like these delicate bluish purple blooms and the heart-shaped leaves, but I do wish they were better behaved! I have chosen to pull them up out of the flowerbeds and among the rocks bordering the house's foundation rather than take more drastic measures.  You would think they would show their appreciation for my kinder approach and move to areas where they are welcome--like under the big spruce tree.

Editor's Note:  I forgot to add while writing this post, that the common violet also happens to be the state flower of Illinois; thanks, Barbara, for reminding me of this!

Another plant threatening to take over several of the less-cultivated areas of the garden is Glechoma hederacea, also known by several names including ground ivy or "Creeping Charlie."  This is a plant I have zero tolerance for, but it seems to laugh at my efforts to eradicate it. It is a member of the mint family, which explains its aggressive tendencies, and forms rootlets wherever the foliage touches the ground.  While I find it hard to call this a wild "flower,"  it is listed in Illinois Wildflowers, albeit as a "weedy wildflower."   It does have one redeeming feature according to this website: it is an important source of nectar in the spring for the bees.

Last fall I had so many crocus bulbs that I was searching for a place to plant them and had the bright idea to plant them randomly near the pine trees across the lane, envisioning a field of crocuses come spring.  That vision turned into a pretty wimpy "field,"  but this past week I have had a much more impressive field of yellow visible to all passersby.  Unfortunately, the field of yellow was mown down by my husband before I thought to take a photo, so this less impressive view of the front lawn will have to do.

Yes, the bright color in the lawn is provided by Taraxacum officinale, the common dandelion.  We do not spray our lawn with any kind of chemicals, so the dandelions have free rein here.  I really don't mind them that much--after all, the grandkids need to be able to make "daisy chains" and little bouquets for their mothers.

But I'm not so appreciative of their moving into other spaces.  I guess this dandelion was trying to camoufluage itself as a tulip:)

Speaking of tulips . . . while I don't have many spring wildflowers, this past week has been the height of the season for all other spring bloomers.

Late daffodils are still blooming, but it's the tulips taking center stage.  I have so many different kinds, some from previous years as well as new ones, that I can't remember the names of many of them.  This is a new variety planted this year; I thought it was 'Pink Impression,' but older 'Pink Impressions' were a solid pink, not this two-toned variety.  I really need to dig through all my records some time.

A few yellow-striped cream tulips are scattered here and there, possibly 'Vanilla Cream,' but possibly not.  Notice the raindrops on the petals--we have had rain for days on end, it seems.  Planting is at a standstill while I wait for the garden to dry out, but the tulips are loving this cooler and wetter spring and are lasting much longer than last year's unusually warm spring.

How is this for an eye-catcher?  This is a new addition to the lily bed this year, so I do remember its name--'Professor Rontgen.'  It certainly is more flamboyant than any professors I had in college.

The last tulips to open are always the 'Angeliques,' my favorite of all.  I'm not sure if I consciously planned this little vignette with the pale pink 'Angeliques' and the sweet little muscari, but I'll take credit for it if anyone asks me.

Tulips aren't the only blooms commanding attention right now.  The redbuds have filled out nicely in the last two weeks, adding that bright lavender to home landscapes and roadsides.

Like the spring ephemerals, their time is short--already a few leaves are beginning to develop, signaling the end of blooming time.

Even more fleeting are the crabapple blooms.  They were just beautiful on Easter Sunday, but after some strong winds today, I noticed the lane is covered with pale pink petals.  The darker crabapples seem to hold their flowers longer.  I am just happy to see them bloom at all this year after last year's disappointing and brief showing.

The white crabapple never fails to disappoint, though.  It is usually later than the pink or reds and hangs on to its blossoms longer.

These are busy days here at the Prairie, with not enough time for blogging it seems.  Before the spring show is over, I do want to write a post on just the tulips, which have been spectacular--maybe early next week.  There is no need to be sad, though, about their departing blooms--there is always something waiting in the wings to take their place.  Very, very soon it will be the lilacs!
Be sure to check out other Wildflower Wednesday posts, where I'm sure you'll see some real wildflowers.


  1. Loved your post Rose. I giggled at the thought of the dandelion trying to look like a tulip. I have such immitations going on in my garden too. Happy WFW.

  2. I love those little violets! They make pretty additions to salads too!

    Angelique is my favorite tulip. I had them at my last house - the only place I've ever lived where the bunnies didn't wreak havoc on the buds, chomping them off just as they were about to bloom, leaving heartbreak and colorful shreds all over the garden. There are so many rabbits here, and so little sun, I've given up on tulips. It's lovely seeing them in your garden Rose!

  3. I love your tulips! Can't wait for the upcoming tulip post! Mine are still budding but seem kind of on pause thanks to the lack of sun lately.

    If you're looking for sources of wild ginger, try Prairie Nursery or Prairie Moon Nursery; both have online ordering/delivery.

  4. Your flowers are all great-wild or otherwise. Those violets sure do put on a show. Wow on the crabapples. I do so love them. It's great you got some pics before the wind came in. Looking for post on tulips.

    Blogging is getting to be a bit much for me too. I may slow down as I've been busy outside of the home and barely even have time to garden. Hard to balance it all. What's that saying-something's gotta give...

    Enjoy your spring!

  5. Beautiful captures of your blooms...

  6. You ever eaten dandelion greens? They are pretty tasty, with the right dressing.
    Your lilacs are gorgeous. They are one of my favorite spring blooming tree/shrubs.
    I used to pick violets in my neighbors overgrown yard. My dad had this perfectly manicured lawn and yard and then I would wander over there to pick her "wildflowers".

  7. Hi Rose,
    I have a ton of natives/wildflowers blooming in my garden right now...but not a lot of time to post about them! I had pretty much gotten rid of my wild violets a couple of years ago, because they had taken over my entire back yard. I know they are native and lovely, in and of themselves, but they sure can get out of control and they are so difficult to eradicate. When I planted my woodland gardens I included a majority of native plants but used a lot of landscaping fabric over the violets because while I enjoyed the purple blooms, what I was mostly seeing was the green leaves, everywhere...and I do mean everywhere. Things were fine for a couple of, they are back! I am allowing them to stay this time, as I am seeing them more along the edges of my fence and I can handle that. I just don't want them to crowd out my other more delicate natives. There's a place for everything, even dandelions, I agree with you on that;-) As for Creeping Charlie, I'm not so sure, though!! Good luck keeping Charlie 'contained'. He is one guy who sure gets around!!

  8. Those dandy dandelions~I love the yellow flower and early bees appreciate them, too. Love the crabapples~I need to get at least one small tree here...The birds love the apples. You know Rose, I love blogging and I love visiting blogs, but, it's getting harder to keep up! Especially during the growing season! So I am especially appreciative that you joined in on WW. xxoogail

  9. When we first moved out to this house, (on 5 acres, about half wooded), I was amazed at the violets. They are everywhere! And I still love them, although I also try to keep them out of the flower beds.

    My husband has been keeping bees for the last four years, so we welcome the dandelions and clover as a good source of food, although we fight them in the flower beds all year long.

    You are a few weeks ahead of us up here in northern Illinois, and I'm looking forward to seeing my tulips bloom --yours are beautiful.

  10. Lisa, Don't you wonder how all those dandelions manage to get into the flowerbeds? If they'd just stay in the lawn, I wouldn't mind so much.

    Linda, I have lots of sunny spots, so there's plenty of room for tulips. They seem to do well here, except I've noticed most of them don't last longer than two years.

    Rose, Many of my tulips are already past their prime, so it's a good thing I took photos earlier. Thanks for the tip--I had forgotten about Prairie Moon.

    Tina, The violets are really taking over a spot in the front of the house; I may have to get more ruthless with them. I could probably do a blog post three times a week this time of year, but it takes me so long I'd never have time to read anyone else's, and I don't want to get to that point.

    Darla, Thanks; the tulips are very photogenic.

    Rosey, I've never tried dandelion greens, but I've often heard they were quite tasty. When my daughter was little, she used to go over to the neighbor's and pick her tulips--not so good:)

    Jan, I agree--violets have their place, but they are now encroaching on the wrong areas here. No, I really don't like creeping Charlie either; he's another hard one to get rid of, though I keep trying.

    Gail, My apologies for not having REAL wildflowers today. Sophie and I even went to the wildflower garden at the park a few weeks ago, but I guess it was too early for them then. I promise next time to have something more interesting:) If it wasn't raining so much here, I wouldn't have time to blog at all right now!

    Renee, I noticed that you have bees--a local beekeeper used to bring his bees over to my father's farm to spend some time in the clover. It gives the honey a distinctive taste, doesn't it?

  11. I like the blue violets too, in spite of the fact that they are pushy. I know they can engulf other plants though.

    Your tulips, Redbud and Crabapples are gorgeous!

  12. Wow, crabapple blooms already. That means it won't be long until mine starts blooming. Your redbud is just superb!
    When my son was a baby, every day in summer while he napped, I hand dug creeping charlie out of my lawn. By the end of summer, I had it in hand. Now, it's a rare invader in the lawn that I snag out as soon as I see it. So, eradication can be done if you're willing to devote a couple hours a day to the task.

  13. Hello Rose, your post made me smile on two counts. The idea that you were waiting for your garden to dry out - we've had no rain for weeks now, and I am waiting for the forecast shower tomorrow before doing the planting I have been waiting to do since the beginning of April... And dandelions - they seem to be unusually prolific this year, even for these most efficient of colonisers. They are all over the allotment site, and the seeds get in to the water troughs, so as one plot holder said to me yesterday "I spend hours hoeing out every single one of the blighters, and then water fresh seed over every carefully weeded bed." Some wildflowers are more welcome than others...

  14. That's a great post, Rose. I love these posts on wildflowers around the blogs from which I learn a lot! Oh, I'm smitten on beholding those dames (tulipas).

  15. A delightful and colourful post Rose. I am so glad to see that Spring really has reached you. The tree blossom is beautiful.

    I love Violets and am happy to have them in the garden, not so keen on the Ground Ivy though and have battled with it for years in one part of the garden!

    The Dandelions here have been particularly abundant this year but I do prefer to see them in the meadows and lanes though rather than the garden ;)

    Your Tulips are beautiful!

  16. Your flowers are lovely!
    I like the idea that you allow some dandelions.
    I have recently planted dandelions seed in an outdoor pot for the rabbits! Howmad is that.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  17. I know what you mean about lack of time. I'm stealing a few minutes here and enjoying every one of them by looking at your beautiful flowers. It's great to see a bit of Illinois springtime again!

  18. Everything looks so happy even the dandelion disguised as a tulip! Great pictures :-)

  19. Hi Rose, Love the dandelion trying to look like a tulip....ha!

    I really like ground ivy, it spreads through the copse rapidly and is such a good source of nectar for the bees. It always amuses me that plants others detest, are normally plants that I enjoy. I know I am in the minority with my love of so called 'weeds'

    It never ceases to amaze me how our gardens catch up with each other. Our spring started much earlier than yours and yet we seem to have the same things in bloom now.

    Hope all is going well with the wedding plans....such a lovely time, enjoy.

  20. Rose, my heart has a soft spot for the common violet...luv those heart-shaped leaves and the delicate flowers. I like your granddaughter's nickname for them, bluebirds. Wood violet is Wisconsin's State Flower. Is that the same as a common violet? Looks the same to me.

    The lone dandelion with your red tulips makes for a great photo.

    All those redbuds and crabapples in bloom look heavenly. Our lilac bushes are not even close to having leaves. Such a cool spring. Because of all the awful storms in other parts of the country, I try my best not to complain about it.

    Happy gardening to you, my friend.


  21. I love Redbuds, that is definitely a tree that needs to be added to my yard and soon! You have some beautiful tulips this spring Rose, never had much luck with them here since our winters are too mild. :)

  22. Your garden must be such a wonderful sight, rose! So beautiful. And I adore violets!

  23. I like how you leave the dandelions in the lawn...that is admirable. You have lovely blooms. Your pinks and lavendars are so vivid.

  24. So love it all, dear Rose! A beautiful post ... one day I am going to make dandelion wine ... (one of my favorite Ray Bradbury reads)!

  25. What fun! tomorrow when I pull the dandelions from the lawn I will try to think of them as disguised tulips):-
    My weeping crabapple just broke its first leaf today. For some reason it comes in very late here. But since the gophers did their very best to pull it down the hole- I am pleased it made it through their onslought.

  26. All of your blooms look amazing! Specially that redbud

  27. I love wildflowers and organic gardens too. I even enjoy dandelions in bloom but not their bare stalks. I envy your tulips – squirrels gobble them up in our neighborhood. Gorgeous blooms! You are a few weeks ahead of us in Maine but at least we have daffs and green grass now.

  28. I enjoyed your wild and not so wild blooms. I better go check the area where I've been battling creeping Charlie. I haven't seen any so far.

    While I have a couple spots in the veggie garden where I let the violets grow, I try to keep them out of other areas. The other day, our next door neighbor pointed out all of the violets in her yard. She has lots of them, front and back she told me. She's not so happy about it, but didn't blame me. I wanted to tell her I thought they look pretty, but knew that wouldn't go over so well. I don't know if they are from our yard, though, as the veggie garden I have across the street has a lot of violets, too.

  29. Extremely busy days on the prairie. So much to do, so little time. Violets and dandelions don't even take over here because our soil is so bad perhaps? Your spring is really taking shape Rose. Happy times in the garden to be sure.~~Dee

  30. That's a fabulous Prof you have! The redbuds are looking fantastic! My Chicago sister says a lot of her plants seem to have benefited from the extra snow (moisture) over the winter.

  31. Your wedding this week! I was thinking about that the other day and wondering if I'd missed it. I shall look forward to the photos. Have a wonderful time and enjoy it all. I know it will be a brilliant day and I send love to you, your daughter and her husband-to-be.

  32. Sweetbay, thanks--yes, the violets are starting to take over.

    MMD, The crabapples were gorgeous this year, but with all the rain and some strong winds, the blooms didn't last long. I usually do spend a lot of time pulling up the creeping charlie, but it's been so wet that I haven't had much opportunity to weed.

    Janet, Wouldn't it be nice to have a happy medium for the rain? I'm hoping mid-May will be drier. Those darned dandelion seeds seem to land everywhere.

    Chandramouli, I enjoy reading others' wildflower posts, too--I've learned so much!

    Songbird, The dandelions seem to be doing well this year:) Yes, spring finally arrived a few weeks ago, and other than all the rain it's been beautiful.

    Maggie, That is funny:) But I planted some special grass seed for the cats, as if they don't have enough outside to munch on:)

    W2W, Spring is my favorite time of year, and as you no doubt remember, especially beautiful after waiting all winter for it.

    Skeeter, The spring bulbs are very happy this year that it isn't as hot as it was this time last year.

  33. Cheryl, The creeping charlie does have its place; I think in a woodland area it would be a perfect groundcover. I've been so busy the last week getting ready for our trip I haven't had much time for anything else. Thanks for the well-wishes--it will be an exciting time!

    Donna, I'm sure it's the same violet; I don't even know if I have the right botanical name for this one, there are so many. Spring will come to you! Yes, I've been complaining so much about endless rainy days, but when I see what has happened in other parts of the country, I feel ashamed to be a complainer and thankful that the storms have missed us.

    Racquel, It's been a spectacular year for tulips. I love the redbuds--to me they're one of the first signs that it's really spring.

    Sage Butterfly, Our lawn is so large that eradicating all the dandelions would be a huge chore. No chemicals here either, so they get to stay.

    Joey, Dandelion wine always sounded so intriguing!

    Lydia, I noticed this year the dandelions are trying to disguise themselves as all sorts of flowers:)

    Fer, Thanks; the redbud is my favorite in the spring.

    Sarah, I agree, I don't like the dandelions after they've dried out. Good to hear spring is arriving in Maine!

    Sue, I don't think your neighbor can blame you for her violets. I think they just magically appear wherever they want:)

    Dee, After waiting all winter, April has been a gorgeous month. I'm enjoying all the spring blooms.

    Cyndy, I think your sister is right--everything seems to be doing well this spring, no doubt from all the moisture this winter. The Professor really grabbed my attention on Brent and Becky's Bulbs website, and it hasn't disappointed.

    Liz, Thank you so much for the well-wishes! My first time as mother of the bride--I'm excited. But most of all happy for my daughter--my new son-in-law is a wonderful guy.


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