susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Sweet Pea in Mini-Vase

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I just love sweet peas.  So much that I planted an entire package of everlasting sweet peas.  Did that turn out to be a mistake!

The flowers were beautiful as they grew along a fence.  Deer kept them pruned on the outside of the wire fence, but there were still plenty of flowers to go around.  I picked handfuls to put in vases indoors, and there were still lots more flowers.  Which of course, meant lots of sweet pea seeds.  I collected seeds to strew along other wire fences, the flowers made even a wire fence look pretty.  It took another spring before we saw sweet peas coming up everywhere.  Not just along a fence line, but everyplace the ground had been stirred.  Between the birds and the wind, the sweet peas were on the verge of taking over everything. 

Then I remembered where I had seen sweet peas growing wild along roadsides.  They looked very pretty there, also.  But nothing else grew in the masses of sweet pea vines.  Very reluctantly, I took a shovel to the now unwanted plants.  It has taken a couple more years and I still find interlopers that need to be dug up.  The flower pictured was a surprise, and the plant was immediately put an end to.

I still love seeing sweet peas in the wild.  They were planted by someone, or the birds dropped a seed – all it takes is one seed in a favorable environment to start a colony of these flowers.  But I keep them out of my garden. 

Wild Himalayan Blackberry

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Wild Himalayan Blackberry

I like this picture as you can see the developing berries as well as the delicate flowers. Not only the stems, but the leaves, and even the backs of the leaves, have a multitude of thorns. Anyone who has gone berry-picking quickly learns how to pick these delicacies without getting too bloody in the process.

Some berry-picking hints, gleaned from experience (the best teacher):
1 – Go early in the morning, so you can wear long pants and long sleeves without cooking yourself in the summer heat.
2 – Bring clippers to be able to cut a path to a desirable clump of berries.
3 – Have plenty of clean buckets for the picked berries. If you are picking berries to be cooked into pie or jelly, for example, as big as a 5-gallon bucket is fine. If you want to freeze or eat individual berries, a smaller size bucket is preferable, so as not to crush the bottom layers.
4 – Avoid berries on a roadside where they have accumulated car exhaust. Along a stream is a much better location for picking.

Although locals love these tasty berries, the plant is an invasive in the state of Oregon. It was brought here in the mid-1800’s to help prevent stream erosion, after the local beaver population was decimated. (Oh, the tales that history can tell…)

Do know that you are competing with the local wildlife population, including birds, deer and bears, for your juicy berries?

Wild Alliums

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Wild Alliums

These are wild alliums, and they pop up on their own, when and where they feel like it. Of course, they have decided to set up residence in the fenced areas, where the deer can not get to them. But they are deer-resisitant – don’t they know that?

I see these in the fields along with the wild daisies. Now that we are noticing areas that do not get mowed, and can be naturalized as flower meadows, I’m looking to expand the alliums as well as California poppies. Gotta get collecting seeds now.

If I was more computer adept, I could figure out how to post more than one photo at a time. I know it is possible, as I have seen it on other people’s blogs.

Field of Wild Daisies

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Field of Wild Daisies

The photo was taken in the late afternoon when you can see the field is mostly shaded by tall trees. A year-round creek runs behind the oak trees in the distance.

When my son mowed the fields, I taught him to go around wild rose bushes and the wild daisies. The daisy patches have grown since we don’t mow the entire field anymore.

Wild Iris

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Wild Iris

While these wild iris flowers bear a strong resemblance to Japanese iris, they are different, not as tall for one.
The wild iris can often be seen growing along a country road locally, but are not seen as frequently as in the past. I blame the poison that is sprayed on the roadside to control weeds. What is sprayed cannot differentiate between weeds and wildflowers, so both perish.

These iris are also found on hillsides that are not mowed and no domestic animals graze there, so our place qualifies there. They still need the right amount of moisture in the spring for them to bloom and thrive. Most often they are purple and white, as pictured. Lavender and, rarely, pink are the other colors they come in. These are also some of the largest wildflowers I’ve seen. Not tiny like the blue, pink and white gems that are so hard to photograph clearly.

Years ago I would see large drifts of these flowers. Now I look hard to spot a few specimens here or there. Damn, I’m showing my age and how long I’ve lived in the same place.