A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

By Mary Tucker
Ragged Robin

Ragged Robin

Along Fall Clove Road and in the fields around my home there are at least fifty varieties of flowering trees, bushes and wildflowers in bloom through spring, summer and fall. Most are considered weeds when growing in lawns and home gardens. Armed with the Audubon field guides, North American Wildflowers and North American Trees, I tried to identify as many as possible, and came up with……

April through June—A Painted Trillium growing between the stone wall and a large rock with one white and pink blossom at the end of the stalk; no sign of another-did a bird drop a seed as it flew past? Next come Wood Anemones, Blue Violets, Trout Lilly (also called Dog Tooth Violet), Myrtle, and Serviceberry Trees whose white blossoms are called Shad Blow because the masses of white flowers tend to appear at the same time that the Shad ascend the rivers to spawn. Then there is that dreaded lawn “pest,” the Dandelion. So much work to dig them out of a lawn and yet they continue to grow, but a field full of Dandelions in bloom resembles a golden carpet to delight the eye.

June through August—These months bring flowers to Blackberry briars, Buttercups, Mouse Eared Hawkeye, Dame Rocket (known to many as Wild Phlox), Mustard, Oxeye Daisies, Herb Robert, and one of my favorites, Ragged Robin, a plant in the pink family. Deep pink flowers grow in clusters at the end of thin branching stalks; each of the five petals are deeply cut four times making the flower appear ragged, giving this wildflower its name. Patches of Ragged Robin can be found in roadside wet places, wet fields and meadows.

July through September—Through these months Black-eyed Susans, different color Mallows, purple and white clovers, several varieties of vetch, Purple Loosestrife, and Bull Thistles are in bloom-I know farmers do not like Bull Thistles in hay fields but to me the blossom is so lovely that I had one painted on the mail box. Pearly Everlasting and Yarrow are excellent for drying. Blackberries, Raspberries, and Elderberries are ready for picking and eating.

August through October—Now we see Goldenrod, Teasel, Purslane and Lavender, pink and white New York Asters. These asters are now sold at garden centers as Perennial Asters. Last on the list is Joe-Pye Weed, large pinkish-purple clusters of fuzzy flower heads atop sturdy purple spotted stems. Folklore tells that an Indian, Joe Pye, used this plant to cure fevers and the early American Colonists used it to treat an outbreak of Typhus.

There are more wildflowers, edible plants, shrubs and trees that could be mentioned, but these are enough to make me wonder why I spend so much time, energy and money on home gardening. Gardening must be in my genes since I grew up on a farm, helping my mother grow beautiful roses, gladiola, and dahlias, and helping my father grow vegetables for home use and market. Once a farmer, always a farmer and as Walter Gladstone said, “that’s the way it is”.~

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