Archive for the ‘wildflowers’ Category

Trilliums, a walk on the wild side

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

trilliums

On one of my walks last week, I noticed what looked like trillium foliage emerging from the duff. On the off chance that they had progressed to the blooming stage, I took my camera along yesterday. Sure enough, a few blossoms were in the vanguard.

trillium leaves

Coming along behind the leaders, I saw lots of foliage. I’m looking forward to a carpet of Trilliums in the near future. I think this wildflower is Trillium grandiflorum, (correction: Evan says it is T. ovatum - see comments) though there are as many as 50 different varieties. Seeing them growing wild in the woods takes me back to the days when my friends and I would explore forested areas on horseback. We were cautioned never to pick a trillium because it would kill the plant. I don’t know if that is true, but it did impart a certain mystique to the pristine flower.

trills007.jpg

Here’s abit of info taken from The Brooklyn Botanic Garden:

Pedicellate Trilliums
Trillium grandiflorum (white wake Robin, white trillium, great white trillium)

This species is the showiest, best known, and most loved of all trilliums. It is the provincial flower of Ontario, Canada and a highly prized shade garden perennial throughout the world. Its natural range extends from Maine and southern Quebec west to Michigan and Minnesota and south along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains. It grows in well-drained, rich forest soils with a preference for sugar maple and beech forests.

All species of trillium seeds are naturally dispersed by ants, who are attracted to a fleshy, fat globule attached to the seed coat called a elaiosome. The ants will take the seed a distance from the mother plant, eat the globule, and discard the seed or they will take the seed back to their nest and discard the seed underground once the globule has been consumed.

With ants to disperse the seed and suitable soil conditions Trillium grandiflorum can form large drifts over the years. Native Americans used the grated root as a poultice for eye swelling and as a tea to relieve cramping during menstruation. The common name wake Robin alludes to the danger of rousing the goblin Robin Goodfellow if the flower is picked. It may also refer to the plant’s use as an aphrodisiac. Geoffrey Grigson reports in his book The Englishman’s Flora of the “use of Robin as a pet name for the penis.” Author John Lyly wrote in 1602 that “They have eaten so much wake Robin, that they cannot sleep for love.”
The ants have not been doing their job on the one plant in our woodland garden. It continues to put in a solo performance. I did read somewhere that the best time to transplant is when they are in flower, so I may step in and bring some out of our deep woods into the garden proper. I join Danger Garden in posting a garden favorite (hint: hers is not a plant this week). You can participate by leaving a comment with a link in her comments to your “favorite” post. Try it, you’ll like it.

Rowena Plateau wildflowers in early April

Friday, April 20th, 2012

The giant HPSO plant sale, renamed Hortlandia with a nod to the Peabody winning (WWTT) TV series ‘Portlandia’, which lifted its name from the sculpture on the Portland Building by Michael Graves (I know, I know…way more info than you need) has come and gone. Here is why I missed the first day: Saturday.

Bob n Laurie

Our good friends Bob and Laurie are avid wind surfers. Since the Columbia River Gorge offers some of the best, they built a house in Mosier to be closer to the wind, the sun and the river. We have had a standing invitation to visit, and when that Saturday dawned bright and sunny, off we went.

rock outcropping

If you have been following this blog at all, you know that I never met a rock that failed to capture my heart. The Gorge, then, is pure bliss. After visiting over snacks, we headed for Tom McCall Park, also known as Rowena Plateau, where many trails lead from the road to the cliff overlooking the river.

the Columbia River beyond the cliff

In the springtime, the main attraction is the parade of wildflowers strewn along the path. I made an effort to track down the names, with only moderate success. There is an informational board at the trailhead, but I was not equipped to take notes. Maybe next time.

Lomatium columbialum

Columbia desert parsley, or Lomatium columbialum

???

tiny???

Later in the season, when the balsamroot comes along things get showy and bold, but now one must look closely to spot the dainty blossoms sprinkled here and there.

grass widow

The hand is there to steady the ‘Grass Widow’ for the camera, but it also gives you an idea of scale.

Fritillaria pudica

Yellow Bells, or Fritillaria pudica

So that, my dears, is what kept me from the first day of ‘Hortlandia’. Next, I will fill you in on what led to my second day of truancy.

wildflowers in my garden now

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

buttercup close-up

You couldn’t ask for a tougher ground cover than buttercups, so why fight it? Their shiny golden faces light up the woodland’s edge (and anywhere else that they have not been diligently removed).

foxgloves

I never know where the foxgloves will show up from year to year, but they have a starlet’s sense of where they will show off to best advantage.

odd foxglove

Once again, a few of them are doing this strange thing where the top flower opens into a most un-foxglovely blossom. I asked my master gardener neighbor about it, but she had no idea…anyone???

field daisy

Beyond the reach of the hose, the field daisies carry on regardless.

grasses and vetch

…as do pretty grasses and vetch.

silene

I find the wild silene as charming as any cultivated beauty. As such, it is allowed free reign anywhere it chooses to put in an appearance.

salmon berry Rubus spectabilis

Thanks to The Oregonian, I even have the botanical name for the salmon berries that grow in our woodland. They are Rubus spectabilis, with large, maple-like leaves and white flowers that become salmon-colored berries. Their name, however, is derived not from the color, but from their use. Native Americans served them with salmon roe, and the fish typically spawn at the same time that the blossoms appear.

I am a bit late to the party this month, but on the third Wednesday of each month, Clay and Limestone hosts Wildflower Wednesday, giving us an opportunity to pay tribute to the flowers that tough it out with no coddling. Where would we be without them?

wildflower wednesday

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

anonymous wildflower

I’ll start with one that I am hoping someone will identify, as it grows profusely around here.

candy flower and ferns

Mostly, the cast of characters changes dramatically from month to month, but the dainty little candy flower sticks around long enough to pair with the emerging ferns.

wild geranium

I pull these out of my borders, but along the roadside the masses of wild geraniums are a delight.

wild heuchera

Judging by leaf shape and flower form, I’m guessing that this is a wild heuchera. One has taken up residence in a border and chose its placement so well that it will stay.

wild solomon’s seal

In the wild, the Solomon’s seal stays low to the ground, unlike the one in my woodland garden, which is 3′ tall.

false solomon’s seal

False Solomon’s Seal shares the same leaf shape, but instead of dangling bells, the flower is a white pouf similar to goatsbeard at the end of the stem.

close-up of false solomon’s seal

Here’s a closer look at that flower form.

wild strawberry

The banks along the road are covered with wild strawberry plants. I must remember to keep checking to see if any fruit escapes the notice of the critters to be plucked by me.

scotch broom

Coming out of the woods, where the dominant color scheme is green and white, things get more colorful. Scotch Broom was introduced to the US in the late 1800’s for use in stabilizing mine tailings and other types of erosion control. With its deep root system and tough persistence, people came to like it for easy-care landscaping. Uh oh…those qualities also mean that it is tough to eradicate as it makes its way onto the ‘noxious weed’ lists of many states. It is just beginning to gain a foothold along this bank, but there are many hillsides that are bright yellow (the color of highway warning signs) as far as the eye can see.

Scotch Broom close-up

We always seem to be walking the line between trying to find plants that will thrive effortlessly and those that will overrun us with too much of a good thing. One plant like this can produce 15,000 seeds in a year. Digging them up is not a good idea, because disturbing the soil will just bring more of those seeds to the surface where they can germinate. While the plant is toxic to most animals and humans, goats can be pressed into service. Brooms hate shade, so providing a canopy of shade can be a long-range solution. Cutting off and painting the stump with glyphosate might be one of the rare instances where chemical warfare could be justified.

Susie’s wattle fence

Enough with the ranting. I am going to take you back into our cool woods, where one of our neighbors is building a wattle fence. When I stopped to chat with her about it, she was thrilled that I knew what it was (apparently it is a foreign concept to folks in our neck of the woods). I volunteered the prunings from our fruit trees, but I think what is really needed here is a helper. Wattle building is mighty slow going.

Wildflower Wednesdays are the brainchild of Gail at Clay and Limestone, so hop on over there if you want to get in on the fun.

wildflower walks

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

trilliums

Walking our road is especially pleasant (between downpours) this time of year because the wildflowers are out in full force. The clumps of Trilliums seem to increase with each passing year. They are about three weeks ahead of the single plant that blooms in our woodland garden. They seem to be the same variety, but the roadway lets in more sunshine.

Oregon grape

Same story for the Oregon grape, our state flower. In fact, the governor’s mansion in the state capitol is called ‘Mahonia Hall’. I thought that planting a clump of these in a garden bed would be a surefire low maintenance, high impact strategy, but not so. Mine get leggy and scruffy before blooming, while those that chose their own sites bloom profusely on shrubs with shiny, undamaged leaves. This took the wind out of my early intentions to rely heavily on natives at home.

claytonia

This is the first year that I have noticed little clumps of miners’ lettuce Claytonia growing along the road. I sought out seed and grew some one year, but it is so much more fun to find it in the “wild”. It makes a wonderful, tender little addition to salads.

candy flower

Much of what is blooming now is so diminutive that only an extreme close-up will do. This dainty beauty is, I think, what is called a ‘candy flower’. Anybody know of a good source of information on Willamette Valley wildflowers?

yellow violets

Here’s another tiny dancer that would escape notice if we never left our car. I’m sure it has a name, but ‘yellow violet’ will have to do until a better-informed wildflower watcher comes along to set me straight.

snake grass

These snaky grasses are so attractive that I have tried more than once to incorporate them into arrangements. They refuse to cooperate, so I guess I will have to be satisfied with enjoying them in situ.

pigs
Living in the country, it is best to stay on the good side of neighbors. One irritated neighbor cleared all the brush that screened his place from his neighbor across the road and installed a family of pigs. We tend to breathe through our mouths while navigating this stretch of road.

leyland cypress hedge

Mostly, though, our neighbors couldn’t be nicer. This poor fellow was working on taming the Leyland cypress hedge he inherited from his predecessor. He is obviously going to need to borrow a taller ladder. We fell into conversation and he invited us to see what he has been up to behind that hedge.

greenhouses

These cute little greenhouses are giving things a great head start, especially with the reflected heat from the house and the driveway.

raised beds

While around back these raised beds are surrounded by trellises for climbers. This is going to be a kitchen garden that qualifies for being called a “parterre”, if ever I saw one.

Well, I strayed quite a bit from the subject of wildflowers, but over at Clay and Limestone this is Wildflower Week, with links to other blogging gardeners sharing wild discoveries.