What Weed is This?

Taken a few weeks previously, this weed is thriving. But what could it be? It appears to bear thistle blossoms or a type of bur, yet the leaves resemble honeysuckle.

Perhaps I didn’t peer closely enough on my walk that day. My field guides so far have failed to provide identification.

White Snakeroot Frosts the Early Fall Forest Border

This foamy flower is everywhere in the forest border this time of year. I have been familiar with it for a long time, but just learned, via this post by Brooklyn Botanic Garden that it was the culprit which caused “milk fever”, an ailment I had vaguely heard of and rather thought was caused by poison hemlock or some such plant.

It seems that if cows consume the various parts of this plant, humans can become ill from drinking their milk.

I understand from the information in the post that for some time after a Shawnee medicine woman revealed the cause of milk fever to a country doctor, people scoffed at the idea. Does this sound just a bit familiar to our pandemic situation today, in 2020?

Anyway, the story goes on to say that these days, milk from many dairy herds is combined when the drink is packaged for sale. Thus, if one herd of cows partook of snake root, the toxin will be sufficiently diluted so as not to cause harm. Interesting. Much easier than eradicating this prolific weed from every pasture.

I’ve never considered taking a bite of this plant, or feeding it to a bovine friend. I simply feast my eyes upon its blossoms – the ones that decorate the field behind our house and the border of the pond down the road.

Buttercups Bring Memories of Earlier Days

Buttercups are symbols of childishness and ingratitude according to The Complete Language of Flowers by Sheila Pickles.

I don’t get the ingratitude part, but they do remind me of being a child, of finding true delight, amazement, boundless energy to explore woods and fields when spring pulls back the curtain of winter clouds, revealing a world of green and gold, the color of buttercups.

I remember when I first discovered these flowers, when I was about ten, hiding in a low spot in the field behind our house. I visited them there each spring, then one year transplanted some to the northwest corner of our house, where they grew reliably for years.

I also recall a kid’s book I probably still have in the depths of a closet, I think the title was Around and About Buttercup Farm.

It is said that buttercup juice blisters the skin but that it’s also been used as a remedy to cure gout and rheumatism, and, as a tincuture, to cure shingles and sciatica. (Don’t try any of those cures at home, or anywhere.)

This verse by Thomas Campbell (1774-1844) takes me back to childhood springs:

Field Flowers

By Thomas Campbell

 Ye field flowers! The gardens eclipse you, ‘tis true:

Yet, wildlings of nature! I dote upon you,

For ye waft me to summers of old,

When the earth teemed around me with fairy delight,

And when daisies and buttercups gladdened my sight

Like treasure of silver and gold.

 

 

 

 

Dreaming of Daylilies and Historic Buildings

My old shed isn’t really a historic building as the world sees things. But we all make history, so every place we’ve ever lived is  a historic building in my eyes.

I can still feel the souls of those who lived and worked in our old shed, long before we lived there. We should clean up the site, but for me that would mean an emotional experience, as it would be akin to digging up a grave, the old boards like the remaining bones of a living being.

Today, I sit and dream amid the daylilies, such a lovely flower, with a blooming season that’s way too short. They do breed long-blooming dayliles these days, but I’m still partial to the original orange wild ones.

Here’s a link to a lovely article that tells the history of the orange daylilies that rode along in pioneer wagon trains, spreading across America to decorate our roadsides to this day.

Some of the Best Plants Weren’t Meant to Be

No, I don’t believe it’s a morning glory. I believe it’s a larger than normal form of Hedge Bindweed – though I don’t have my trusty Roger Tory Peterson field guide with me. Anyway, it’s lovely and it’s growing in the flowerbed next to the drive into the public library I visit most often.

No one keeps up with weeding these days, (self included). That’s okay as some of the most beautiful plants used to be pulled up and discarded back in the day when gardeners considered anything not purposely planted to be a worthless weed.

I learned that lesson the year my mother was ill and I had no time to care for my flowerbeds. I received so many more compliments on them that year than ever before. The addition of some unsought blooms made the beds appear more bountiful than they would have had I been in charge.

While it’s not wise to allow wildling plants to totally take over one’s grounds, Mother Nature does often know best when it comes to outdoor decor.

Queen Anne’s Lace and Chicory – A Perfect Pairing 

Queen Anne’s lace towers over chicory in this photo. Often they are nearly the same height but that wasn’t the case on this roadway.

Observers of nature don’t always need a calendar to tell them what month it is. When rural roads sport a fresh lacy border of lavender and white, I know it’s July. Chicory and Queen Anne’s Lace appear often together, and they make for a lovely match, a fairy tale style display for those who appreciate Mother Nature’s floral artistry.

Chicory blooms, the pale purplish puffs dancing on wavy stems are one of my favorite wildflowers. I don’t remember noticing them till I was in my twenties, though they must have been there all along. They resemble bachelor’s buttons a bit and are similar in color, though paler than the typical cornflower blue of the cottage garden plant.  Chicory was originally imported as a coffee substitute, I believe, and is still sometimes added to coffee blends, I believe to curb bitterness?

Queen Anne’s Lace I seemingly always knew, as my mother pointed them out when I was still so young that the plants towered over my head. Though never a fan of lace on clothing for myself, I love the dressy casual style of the off-white blooms that top wiry stems with feathery foliage. I’m not sure why this plant, also called wild carrot, was imported. The flat blooms all sport one tiny purple floret in the center.

Apparently both plants like dry stony soil as they thrive beside roadways. I see them along narrow gravel lanes, and also at the edge of the median strip of prominent divided highways.

They bring back memories of chauffering my mother along country roads in midsummer. She always pointed out the first chicory blooms after I learned about them and made her aware of their presence and the basic history of their arrival in America.

Might as Well Face it – I’m Addicted to WordPress

Or at least I was for a time. As Robert Palmer would say, my mind was not my own, but more like a computer set to churn out random posts possessing the word of the day. I still have withdrawal symptoms, but the good thing that came of the loss of the Daily Prompt put out by WordPress was the realization that I was focusing more upon my next blog post or photo that on the experiences that inspired them.

I had been pressuring myself so hard to post that my story and article writing was slipping, and I wasn’t fully experiencing spring as I used to.

I need days of sitting in my Adirondak chair, or lying in the grass, savoring birdsong, and the sights and sounds of spring. I do love sharing experiences, but in order to do that in a wondrous way, we must focus upon the experience fully, not become a keyboard slave.

So I may not be posting every day, but I hope to stock up on sunny experiences to share when dark days drive me inside.

I almost missed out on my columbines’ blooms this spring. They planted themselves in favorite spots in my landscape some years ago. Their delicate jewel-like pink and blue blooms appear effortlessly each year.

I do miss the daily camaraderie, but can always go back and like the acquaintances I found on the Daily Post as I have time.

To all friends and followers:

Have a sunny day whatever the weather!