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Wednesday, June 8, 2016


In June, the color green is ubiquitous. June is as green as January is white, with the difference that flowers, not just road signs, add bright color accents.

My last post featured one greenish-yellow “flower” and several white blossoms. Today, now that we’ve got the other colors out of the way, let’s look at another limited palette, yellow and green. The top photo today shows one of the showiest June wildflowers, the yellow flags clustered in and around the many small creeks of Leelanau County. Some of are creeks are so small you might miss them if not for white posts by the side of the road, one on each side, and a narrow, meandering northern Michigan jungle of cattails and red-twig dogwood. The wild iris flagging this stream, however, cannot help but attract a human eye.

Another yellow flower that thrives near creeks but also seems happy in cool fields is the happy little buttercup, one of my favorite June blooms. If you have a sharp eye, you might even see it on a shady roadside. The reflective cells on their petals make them shine like lacquer. 

What do you see when you drive or bike or walk along our county roads? Does the modest goat’s-beard flower catch your eye? Have you ever read of people eating salsify? Who knew goat's-beard and salsify were one and the same? I didn't.

How about quiet colonies of leafy spurge (sadly, another invasive alien)?

Or still quieter and more modest wild sedum at the edge of the road? Our old yard in Leland had huge patches of sedum that had outcompeted the grass, but I never minded. It was green and more interesting than grass. Undemanding, too. Loves poor soil. And we’ve got that here in northern Michigan.

Wildflowers of Wisconsin in the new book section at Dog Ears Books has been cruelly overlooked by customers, considering that the subtitle is and the Great Lakes Region. The only parts of this book not pertinent to Michigan are the distribution maps. And how many wildflower guides don’t have distribution maps at all? In every other way, Wildflowers of Wisconsin works quite well for Michigan. Of course, we have Michigan wildflowers guides, as well – I’m just pointing to one you might not otherwise have considered, a book easily overlooked, like those inconspicuous greenish-yellow roadside flowers.

Flower books, garden books – impossible not to love them! Practical, they are at the same time dream volumes.

The discerning eye will have noticed earlier in this post that my poppies and some of my iris are struggling for survival (quite successfully) in space now overgrown with grass. In my own defense, however, I must protest that I have gotten back on the job this year and have reclaimed half of my original backyard vegetable garden, so if only the rabbits will leave some greens for us, we’ll be all set. They don’t bother the rhubarb at all. Why is that? Can’t they see I have rhubarb to spare?


Gerry said...

I wonder why our little creeks don't sport yellow flag iris? I do know where a couple of blue flags appear down on the beach - I'd better go look for them. And I did not know that about buttercups. You have rhubarb. I have no rhubarb. Another reason for braving the drive.

Unknown said...

you are so good with that camera, makes me miss yous even more..soon we will visit to see you and the poseys :)

P. J. Grath said...

Not all our county creeks can boast of yellow flags. I'm thinking there are blue ones on the Lake Leelanau Narrows but need to check that out. Buttercups I have just a few steps from the iris and poppies. I transplanted some years ago for a little rabbit grave, and they have spread a bit. Nice!

P. J. Grath said...

Robyn, you are too kind! I hardly did justice to the buttercups, for instance -- just called it "good enough," because I was in a hurry to finish up this post. Let us know when you might swing down. Of course, we are working every day, but you can seek us out at bookstore and studio/gallery!

Dawn said...

My omg loved buttercup. Grandma loved poppies. They both had flower identification books. Wonder where those went.

P. J. Grath said...

Don't know where the family books went, Dawn, but I can tell you that the day after I photographed the buttercups, they were cut down by a mower! I got to the creekside just in time.