Sunday, June 19, 2016

Let me introduce you...

I realize that I spend way too much of my time on this blog complaining about the invasive species that like to take over our woods and meadows. Just this week, I could tell you about how we continue to march over our land, determined to cut down all the multi-floral roses, bush honeysuckle, lespedeza, poison parsnip, poison hemlock, johnson grass and milk thistle that we can find. But I doubt that you come to this space to hear me rant about these crazy and unwanted plants.

I need to remember that there are just as many (if not more) really wonderful native plants that I should be telling you about. Plants that grow naturally here; plants that caterpillars and butterflies choose as host plants; plants that birds love to nest in and eat the berries from. Plants that make wonderful arrangements and edible treats.

Let me (re)introduce you to four of my favorites that are in full bloom this week.

I written about it before. It's the plant that Monarch butterflies love. Common milkweed (pictured below) is quite common around here. Hundreds dot our fields and we are always happy to find another plant popping up. It does seem like more and more Monarch butterflies are calling Farm Dover home. Let's hope so.

I've also written about this gem before. We only have a couple of areas where we find them growing, but it is always such a thrill to discover one of them. This week, the seeds are lime green and bursting from their sac. Later in the fall, the seeds turn bright red. I've tried (unsuccessfully) to plant the seeds. I think they need a box turtle to eat them and then poop them out before they will germinate. (I'm serious.)

This one grows in under a shaded forest, near the creek. There is a whole patch and I call them umbrella plants, because when they first come up in the spring, they remind me of little umbrellas – especially the paper ones that come in fancy drinks. Some of the plants have a double bloom and if you peer carefully under them, you can find a small Mayapple.

Here's a mayapple that I found this week. If a small animal doesn't discover it before it gets fully ripe, it (supposedly) makes for a delightful treat to eat. Right now, the apple is still rock hard, but I'll keep checking back to see if I can harvest it on a day when it is perfectly ripe.

If you read this blog, you know that I love our elderflower bushes. I've already harvested two basketfulls to turn into elderflower cordial.

In addition to these four plants, our fields are filling with blackberries, coreopsis, black-eyed susans, queen anne's lace, cone flowers and other wildflowers that I haven't even identified. So don't let me go on too much about the invasives; there are plenty of native plants to put a smile on my face.

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