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Giveaway – Seeing Flowers: Discover the Hidden Life of Flowers

Seeing Flowers by Llewellyn and Chace

Seeing Flowers: Discover the Hidden Life of Flowers with amazing photographs by Robert Llewellyn and charming essays by Teri Dunn Chace, is a beautiful companion to the stunning Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees  which also features Robert Llewellyn’s unique photographic process.  The book, and a gorgeous 16 x 24 gallery quality print to celebrate the release of this book by Timber Press is being given away to some flower lover.  All you have to do is click here and you may win a copy of the book with its 345 photographs, and the large print.

Seeing Flowers gives us a way to see the extraordinary details of ordinary flowers. While  the red poppy is a brilliant show stopper, I love the photographs of the pale Queen Anne’s Lace with the single, tiny red flower in its inflorescence that calls to pollinators flying by.  Even the closed up, ‘bird’s nest’ stage of Queen Anne’s Lace, indicating pollination has been completed,  is newly beautiful to my eyes. I never liked the ‘bird’s nests.’

The book is divided by flower families, from Amaryllis to Daisy to Viola. In addition to Chace’s essays many of the flowers have been given a poetic flourish from poets like Shakespeare who treasured all growing things.

“O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies/In herbs, plants, stone, and their true qualities;/For nought so vile that on the earth doth live/But to the earth some special good doth give.”  (From Romeo and Juliet.)

This specially good book could be yours with just a click and an email address. It would  also make a specially good gift for the gardener as we approach the happy gift-giving season.


Chicory – Roadside Plant in Country and City

Chicory – Cichorium intybus

I remember chicory as a common flower of vacant lots and streetside  hellstrips of my urban childhood. It seems odd to me that I see it so rarely now that I live in the country where my town  has lots of dirt roads, and where even the paved roads are edged by sandy soil and woodlands or fields.

I’ve always loved the  blue flowers of chicory, and I did know that the roots were sometimes dried and ground and used as a coffee substitute.  I didn’t know that root chicory was Cichorium intybus var. sativum. Of course, chicory leaves are also edible, but are not to be confused with the salad green sold as chicory but which is really witlof or Belgian endive. Neither is it what the Italians call radicchio

I was delighted to find this little clump of chicory with its beautiful blue flowers blooming in the parking lot where I left my car yesterday afternoon. This is my childhood memory of a tough, beautiful flower blooming in a less  than beautiful spot. This is a flower that could catch a young child’s imagination, blooming where no flower could be expected.

To hear stories of more wildflowers click here.  Thank you Gail, for hosting Wildflower Wednesday.


Impatiens, Jewelweed, Touch-Me-Not and What I Have Learned


Jewelweed is one of the plants I named as a child. I was fascinated by how easy it was to rip out, although it never grew anywhere that required weeding. Nowadays, I do have places that require I pull it out, but I am happy to find it growing along my roadside. I learned that the juice of its succulent stems can relieve skin irritation from bug bites, nettle stings, and even poison ivy if it is rubbed on right after finding out those pretty leaves you’ve been in are poison ivy. I’ve even heard that some people cook up a batch of jewelweed salve by heating up some stems in oil.

Jewelweed closeup.

I did not know, until very recently, that Jewelweed is also known as touch-me-not.   Nor did I know that it was a member of the impatiens family, properly Impatiens biflora, which includes over 850 other species growing in temperate and tropical climes. All I knew about impatiens is that a hybrid impatiens is a useful and lovely addition to the  shade garden, blooming all summer long, and that is a very different plant. I have also learned that jewelweed is a good pollinator plant.  The red dots on the blossom attract pollinators like moths, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Wild impatiens

When I visited Marie Stella recently, I stopped to admire little clumps of  this pretty 2-3 foot tall flower. Marie said it was a wild impatiens and seeded itself here and there. She immediately ripped up (very easy) a few stems which I planted in the Shed Bed – only because I had a newly weeded spot there. The stems took  and I am looking forward to a nice clump in the spring. I am also hoping someone can give me a better identification than ‘wild impatiens.’

Wildflower or Weed – An Roadside Bouquet

Japanese knotweed

Definitely a weed! And invasive.

Japanese knotweed closeup

But very pretty.

Jewelweed closeup

Joe Pye Weed

Definitely a wildflower, in spite of the name.

White aster

I think it is a white aster. My ID skills are nil.


Purple aster

I think.

For more Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.


Goldenrod or Ragweed?

Goldenrod field

In August goldenrod fills the fields surrounding our house. It is more than time to get the fields mowed, but for the moment I am enjoying the sunniness of the various types of goldenrod. Therefore, I was taken aback by someone who told me I did not  have fields of goldenrod, but with a glare, told me I had fields of ragweed.

Rough stemmed goldenrod

I am more than willing to doubt myself, so I did not protest. However, it seemed unlikely. How could Heath be filled with fields of ragweed and not have a good portion of the populace spending two or three months in misery?  In fact it only took a quick look through my old copy of Peterson’s Guide to Wildflowers to determine that whatever I have it is not ragweed.  Common ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, has bisected artemesia-like foliage which is nothing like the foliage on the goldenrods in my field. Rough stemmed goldenrod, Solidago rugosa, is the most common goldenrod in the field. It has hairy stems and toothed, feather-veined foliage.

Sweet goldenrod

At first I thought this was sweet goldenrod, but now I don’t think so. It doesn’t have the anise-like odor of the crushed leaves of Solidago odora. Perhaps it is the slender fragrant goldenrod, with only one nerve (parallel vein) on each narrow, grassy leaf. No fragrance I can detect however.

There are 20 varieties of goldenrod in the guidebook. I give up trying to ID mine, but I am happy to know I can enjoy them all, guilt free.

Queen Anne’s Lace – Fit for Any Royalty

Queen Anne’s lace

Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota was one of the first flowers I could name. I did not know it was also  called wild carrot, but that name is understandable if you pull up some of the root and inhale that carrot-y fragrance. Who was Queen Anne? Probably, she was  Queen Anne (1665-1714) who ruled Great Britain for 12 years. The tiny red flower in the center of the umbel is considered to be a drop of blood when Queen Anne pricked her finger while making the lace.  That color of that single red flower is caused by anthrocyanin which attracts insects.

Queen Anne’s Lace is a biennial plant. which is just a rosette of basal leaves the first year while it develops that carrot-y tap root, and it blooms the second year. The flower is an umbel, which is a  “flat-topped or rounded flower cluster in which the individual flower stalks arise from about the same point, as in the geranium, milkweed, onion, and chive.”  The outer florets bloom first, bloom moving in towards the center which means that a flower can be in bloom as long as 50 days.

Queen Anne’s Lace birdsnest

I didn’t actually like Queen Anne’s Lace much as a child, because somehow I usually only noticed it when it was looking like a birds nest, another name it has carried. Now, even though it is not native to North America I love to see it adorning the roadsides, not a fragile bit of lace, but a sturdy flower that attracts insects and gives me great pleasure.

Honey Fesitval at Warm Colors Apiary – September 15

Beeswax Candles

Warm Colors Apiary will once again hold its annual “Honey Festival”. Warm Colors has been hosting the Honey Festival for more than twelve years. The festival is a celebration of the Honeybee and our native pollinators. It is an opportunity to recognize the many contributions beekeepers, and their bees, make to agriculture and the health of our environment. Bonita and Dan Conlon open their eighty-acre apiary to the public to enjoy its beauty and explore its wildlife habitat. The event is free and open to all who have an interest in bees and beekeeping. Talk with county beekeepers, walk the Busy Bee nature trail, sample this season’s honey, Green River Ambrosia’s mead, and purchase a honey ice cream cone made by Beth Cook (Flavors of Cooks Farm) with Warm Colors wildflower honey. Bring the family and a picnic, stay for an hour or for the entire day. Honey, beeswax candles and other products will be available for sale. This is a rain or shine event (no rain date).

  • When: Saturday September 15th, 2012
  • Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM
  • Location: Warm Colors Apiary 2 South Mill River Rd. South Deerfield, MA. 01373

I have written about my visit to Warm Colors Apiary here. Don Conlon and his wife Bonita are a great couple doing such good work.

September Gold


September gold fills my garden at this time of the year. I have whole fields of goldenrod. It’s a good thing that goldenrod is not responsible for allergies. “One of the most colorful plants we see blooming in roadside ditches and gardens in late summer is goldenrod (Solidago sp.). Hay fever symptoms seem to be worse when it is in bloom so it often accused of causing hay fever. One look at goldenrod and a little logical thinking clearly eliminates it as a suspect. The many, small, bright yellow flowers on long cluster on the top of the plants are often covered with butterflies and bees taking advantage of the abundance of nectar. The brightly colored flowers are important to attract color-sensitive insects required for pollination. Fact #3: Goldenrod is insect-pollinated. The pollen grains are relatively large, heavier than air and intended to be carried off by bees, butterflies and other pollinators.” For more about goldenrod and allergies  click here and give thanks to the University of Iowa Extension.


My field is also full of tansy. Very pretty. Nice in bouquets. NEVER PLANT IT! It propogates by strong runners AND by seed. You will never get rid of it.

Happy Returns daylily

I thought the daylilies were done but this beauty has made a return. Happy for me.

Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun'

I have been admiring bright gaillardias for years and now I finally have  some. They haven’t minded the drought very much.

Gaillardia 'Oranges and Lemons'

‘Oranges and Lemons’ bloomed slightly earlier and less robustly than ‘Arizona Sun.”  I like the gentler shades as well as the vibrant shades of gold.

Does your garden have any gold at this time of the year?


Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn Galbraith

Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Galbraith

My friend Kathryn O. Galbraith was recently presented with a Growing Good Kids 2012 award from the American Horticultural Society for Excellence in Children’s Literature. This book, beautifully illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin depicts the myriad of ways that we all, people, birds, and animals as well as the wind and the rain plant the beautiful and fruitful gardens that grow along the roadsides, riversides and meadows. I wrote about Kathryn and her book when it first came out here.

White aster in our field

I am surrounded by wild gardens, in my fields and alongside my country roads. Kathryn lives in a much more populated area in Washington Sate, but you don’t need to live in a rural area to appreciate wild gardens.

When I asked her where this lovely idea came from she said, “I remember exactly where the seeds of this story began. I was at a writing workshop in one of our state parks.  Every morning and evening I’d take a walk along its many paths.  There I saw rabbits nibbling on grasses and goldfinches feeding on huge purple thistles.  And woe be to you if you stepped off the path – there prickly, sticky weeds were just waiting to catch on your jeans and socks.

I wrote those images down in my notebook, but only several years later, when I went back to my notebook, looking for gold, did I see how all those images could be connected.”

Goldenrod in our field

We have acres of goldenrod in our field,

Autumn dandelion, black eyed susan and oxeye daisy

and even at this season of the year our ‘lawn’ is a  flowery mead with ox eye daisies, black eyed susans and autumn dandelions. Christina Rosetti asked “Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I:. . . ” but here, just outside my door is evidence of all the beautiful places our Heath breezes have visited.

And inside the pages of Planting the Wild Garden you can join Kathryn, and Wendy, in a garden that we never planted, but that surrounds us where ever we go. We just have to keep our eyes open.

Weeds or Wildflowers?

Daisies, buttercups, hawkweed, lady's bedstraw

Weeds or wildflowers? What do you think?

For more wordlessness this Wednesday click here.