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Wildflower Wednesday: May 2010

May 26, 2010

Trillium undulatum (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) On the fourth Wednesday of each month, Gail at Clay and Limestone invites garden bloggers to join her in a celebration of native wildflowers. May and early June are prime time for wildflowers on my Maine property.

Many of these wildflowers are happy to grow in what passes for “lawn” at my house. These include bluets (Houstonia caerulea), pussy toes (Antennaria neodioica), wild strawberries (Fragaria virginiana), barren strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides), blackberries (Rubus allegheniensis), and carpets of mouse-ear hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella).

Houstonia caerulea (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Antennaria neodioica
Fragaria virginiana (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Waldsteinia fragarioides (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Rubus allegheniensis (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Hieracium pilosella (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Wildflowers are also in bloom in the woods around my house. Just this week, I noticed this flowering shrub, which I think is tartarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), in bloom at the edge of the woods. Lonicera tatarica (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Trientalis borealis (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) The delicate blooms of starflower (Trientalis borealis) light up the forest floor.
This is the first year that I’ve ever seen Canada mayflower (Mianthemum canadense) actually bloom in May! Mianthemum canadense (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Cornus canadensis (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) The bunchberries (Cornus canadensis) are also blooming earlier than usual.

Cypripedium acaule (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

While some wildflowers carpet the forest floor in spring, others are rare treats that it thrills me to see. The painted trillium (Trillium undulatum), pictured at the top of this post is one of these. It bloomed earlier in the month and has now disappeared for another year. But yesterday I spotted my first glimpse of another rare beauty, our native orchid, the Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule).

18 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2010 7:34 am

    These are beautiful, Jean. The Trillium undulatum is so pretty! I wonder if it would grow here…I’m going to check;-) Love the Cypripedium acaule, too! I was looking for Lady Slipper at a native plant sale I went to but there were none. It’s on my list, as well. You have a lot of natives and they’re lovely;-)

  2. May 26, 2010 8:31 am

    Love the lawn flowers. My mouse ears are just getting established.

    It was an exceptionally early spring here too. Early on I noticed things blooming a month early, then a couple of weeks and now things are beginning to return to normal.

  3. May 26, 2010 8:40 am

    Jean those are beautiful photos!

  4. May 26, 2010 10:43 am

    I’m always jealous of those who can grow woodland ephemerals. They are very nice.

  5. May 26, 2010 11:40 am

    Great photos Jean. The painted Trillium is beautiful. Interesting that your wild strawberries have all yellow blooms. Congratulations on finding the Lady’s Slipper orchid, I’ve never seen one in the wild.

    • Jean permalink*
      May 27, 2010 8:29 pm

      Jan, Amy and Clare, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I love the painted trillium. Believe it or not, they grow on the side of the dirt road leading to my house. I don’t see them every year, but this year there were several! What a treat!

      Wiseacre, I love the lawn flowers, too (well, maybe not the blackberries!); all those wildflowers are part of what keeps me from putting in anything approaching a real lawn. After I posted this, I realized that I have both mouse-ear hawkweed and the taller yellow hawkweed.

      Susan, You are giving me way more credit than I deserve. I don’t grow any of these plants; I just find them growing and (mostly) leave them alone. The exceptions are the blackberries, which have vicious thorns and spread like crazy, and the strawberries, which I have encouraged to naturalize on the bottom half of the back slope.

      Clare, the true strawberries are the white flowers with the yellow centers. Their berries are tiny, but intensely flavorful. I can’t wait for them to appear — although I always have to fight the chipmunks for them. I’ve seen several foxes in the yard this spring (including a mother giving a hunting lesson to a very cute kit), so I’m hoping that will mean a decline in the chipmunk population and more strawberries for me.

  6. May 26, 2010 1:38 pm

    Hi Jean,
    Very nice pix. Completely different suite of wildflowers than blooming at my Illinois house. Like the idea of wildflower Wednesday. Tartarian honeysuckle is escaped and wild, but not native.

    • Jean permalink*
      May 27, 2010 8:32 pm

      Adrian, Thanks for the information about the honeysuckle. So many of our wildflowers in New England are not natives but plants brought by European settlers that escaped from gardens and naturalized (sometimes hundreds of years ago) that my wildflower books often don’t distinguish the “true” natives from the long-established immigrants.

  7. May 26, 2010 9:12 pm

    Ohhh, what a beautiful Cyp, and the Trillium undulatum is none too shabby either…. both captured in the wild which makes it even more sublime! My pink lady slipper [C. reginae] has over wintered and has four eyes this year…… time will tell if it blooms more prolifically than last year’s single flower.

  8. May 27, 2010 11:29 am

    Wonderful reminders of a past woodland garden.


    • Jean permalink*
      May 27, 2010 9:22 pm

      Teza, Thanks for visiting. I agree with you that finding these flowers growing in the wild is somehow extra special. I’ve never thought much about trying to cultivate these plants — although I visited a cultivated woodland garden recently that had gorgeous Trillium (or is the plural Trillia?).

      Eileen, I’ve never had a true woodland garden. I’m currently starting to design a new partly shady flowerbed at the edge of the woods and am trying to decide how many of these spring ephemerals to include there. I just discovered a pink lady slipper blooming just outside this new flower bed and find myself wondering if it might seed itself there.

  9. May 27, 2010 12:29 pm

    Jean this is my favourite meme of the month. I am in love with wildflowers. I know ours are very different to yours and I would much prefer your natives in my garden to the ones I have blogged about lol I don’t know about you but its one subject that has made me get back into the gardening books to check up on and make ID’s. Its a challenge each month trying to name our UK ones and remembering those names.

    A friend grows those lady slippers in his garden though in a gravel tray rather than directly in the soil. He has a pink one and some yellow ones out now too.

    I’ve no trilliums in the garden nor any experience at all in growing them but would like to grow some. What is the average height the foliage grows to Jean and does the foliage disappear at some point in the year?

    Many thanks Rosie

    • Jean permalink*
      May 27, 2010 9:37 pm

      Rosie, It’s my Audubon Wildflower Guide that I had at my side while I worked on this post. Even with the guide, I often find wildflowers tricky to identify. I almost mis-identified the barren strawberry (Waldsteinia friagaroides) as another strawberry look-alike that is an entirely different genus, native to India. It was only when I noticed that the Indian Strawberry does not grow this far north that I got it right.

      Unfortunately, I can’t answer any of your questions about these wildflowers because I don’t actually have any of them growing in my garden, but just find them growing in the wild. Sorry. 😦

  10. May 27, 2010 10:00 pm

    Jean – your wildflowers are such treasures. The starflower is wonderful! (as you know, the wildest flower around my yard is the dandelion crop that never stops!) ;o) -Shyrlene

  11. May 28, 2010 5:57 am

    What a beautiful variety of wildflowers. The painted trillium and ladyslipper are truly beautiful, and such a sight to behold. We get so many of the red trillium growing in the woods behind the house… I will have to keep a watchful eye for the painted variety. I hope you are enjoying this gorgeous spring. 🙂

  12. May 29, 2010 7:20 pm

    Jean, this is a time when I enjoy seeing the lovely flowers more than I want to know the names of each one of them. Thanks to digital photography and the internet, I get to enjoy your splendid displays of nature’s free gifts of joy and beauty. I’m sure Frances Hodgson Burnett will be impressed as well.

  13. May 31, 2010 8:53 pm

    A wonderful WW! I am awed by your array of wildflowers~I’ve only ever seen some of them in books~Thank you for sharing! gail

    • Jean permalink*
      June 1, 2010 2:05 pm

      Gail, I’m so happy that you liked this post. I’m not surprised that my wildflowers are so different from yours — because my growing conditions are so different. If I were going to give my blog a name analogous to yours, I’d have to call it something like “Sand and Acid.” 🙂

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