How enchanting, how uplifting to zoom by on my bike past an almost interminable  profusion of wildflowers. Especially  true after averting my glance from the  parched lawns and dry meadows which barely provide a nibble for my neighbor’s cows these days.

And how ironic that as I write at this very moment, I can’t escape the din from the town highway department’s monstrous weed wacker/mower on my street…

But back to the wildflowers … Like a kid, I zoomed past Queen Anne’s Lace (aka wild carrot), indigo blue cornflowers, tall and billowy yellow mullein, plain and boring orange day lilies, now escaped into the wild, and my favorite: swamp milkweed or Asclepias, the staple of the monarch caterpillars.

As far as I know, only the milkweed is native to the Northeast.

However, as one can see while biking, walking or driving by, each has naturalized quite happily —so happily in fact that not one seems affected by our drought.

Each also has a story to tell. The cornflower or Centaurea cyanus(which happens to emerge during corn season) has a color named after it. You got it: “cornflower blue”. Apparently, its pure azure was one of the Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer’s favorites. Once used as a dye, it is considered among the few  truly “blue” flowers in the world. (Another is a hydrangea that the coast favors for its outrageous color. Never seemed quite real to me and certainly doesn’t maintain its blue in our more alkaline soils here in the Berkshires.)

How sad that ornamental plants such as the Queen Anne’s Lace, a beneficial weed that can be used as a companion plant to crops, are not much appreciated by farmers.

And now, as I hear the town’s mower approach once again, I know my time this morning on the bike was a precious one indeed.



Susan Pettee wrote:
July 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Love the Queen Anne’s Lace and cornflowers. Beautiful gifts from nature. I’ve been admiring them for the past couple of weeks – their taproots keep them healthy when many cultivated flowers need a lot of watering to survive. Thanks for your comments!

honeysharp wrote:
July 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Yes they are gifts and they know how to survive! Hurrah for deep roots! Our lawns don’t have a clue…