garden ponderings


Wildflower Show

For over 50 years the tiny community of Glide, Oregon, has hosted an annual wildflower show.  Presented by a committee of volunteers I was amazed when I first saw it.
I have been fortunate to help collect specimens for 3 years, and my knowledge of the wildflowers has grown exponentially.  I’m starting to recognize and remember some of the Latin and many common names, also!

Plants are arranged in families on the tables, in order of evolutionary development of the plant’s reproductive structures.  Who’da thought of such an organizational system?
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Such a large and unusual flower, I wanted to share it.
From the map, I can tell that it is found in the higher mountains.
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We found these pinks in a small meadow, off the beaten track at a county park.
My collecting partner knew where to look.
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These azaleas smelled heavenly.
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Such pretty little flowers.  The name would make a cool title for a book, wouldn’t it?
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I’ve been pulling this out of my flower garden for a long time.  Now that I know its name, and that it is an official wildflower, I can no longer treat it so rudely.
Notwithstanding the strange common name, it is not unattractive and does not seem to be invasive, so some can stay.
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Isn’t this one of the strangest ‘flowers’ you have ever seen?
A friend had emailed me a photo of this ground cone, they had seen while bird-watching in Northern California.  She asked me to find its name.  I joked to her that it might just be an odd looking mushroom.  But now, we have both learned it is a real plant.
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These leaves (which come in different sizes) have little flowers growing up on the leaf, opposite side of the stem.  Now, I notice this on my property.
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I know equisetum because of its use on pots when high-firing.  It is high in silica & calcium, which are common glaze ingredients.
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For those who stuck with me through this longer than usual post, thank you.
You can feel my enthusiasm.

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Autumn Wildflower

Along the driveway, where I often walk, I saw a flower I had not noticed before.  We are in the midst of a drought.  The grass is brown and very dry at the end of summer.  These tiny blossoms would be easy to overlook, as the soft yellow blends in with the muted colors of its surroundings.
Copy of DSCN4058
Since I have been writing this blog, I have become more aware of mother nature at home.  Documenting my observations, I have a record of what time of year a particular flower emerges.  Also, what color of a particular flower will bloom before other colors.  Memory is weak, writing is strong.  I am not the only victim, it is human not to remember all the details one wants to remember.

Poison Oak

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Poison Oak

This is what poison oak looks like when it flowers in the springtime. While some people are not bothered by this plant others (including me) have learned from experience to keep a safe distance from it. As much as we strive to exterminate it on our property, it is a native plant and should be left alone, I am repeatedly told by naturalists. We know, all too well, that it cannot be eliminated, merely kept at bay.

I had the opportunity to take this photo earlier this week while collecting for the upcoming Glide Wildflower Show ( I accompanied a couple of botanists on trails in the Habitat area of North Bank Road in Douglas County. This is a 6000 acre preserve for Colombia White-tail Deer that is managed by the BLM (thank you to the Feds for supporting public lands). I learned so much about common and unusual wild plants, many which grow on my own property. My brain was over-filled with facts, and I wanted to remember everything, but there are limits to what the filing cabinet in my head can retrieve on short notice.

Sierra Current

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Sierra Current

This was acquired as a native plant. I was lucky to find a name tag at the bottom of one of the two specimens planted on the west side of the house, shaded by some getting larger redwood trees.

When I googled this plant, I learned that it will grow in zones 5 – 8, even though it is an alpine or higher altitude native. The last winter here was particularly cold, and only the hardiest of my plants survived. This one has extensive underplantings, so I wonder if that helped keep it just that touch warmer to get it through the winter.

You can see a ‘plant jail’ in the photo, that protects this from deer. Makes me wonder how this exists in the wild. Perhaps there are more plants than deer. Not like here, where the deer have few natural predators.


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I found these tiny flowers on the side of my long driveway to be very difficult to photograph. Holding my small digital camera almost on the ground, I found it challenging to make the auto-focus see what my eyes saw. Makes me appreciate my eyes, and how quickly they can change focus to whatever my brain wants to see.

A decent photo let me look up Oregon wildflowers and determine this is a Slender Toothwort. With only a minimum of skinny leaves, it is distinctive. What a funny name, who comes up with these? There were many of these pale pink gems that seem to like the dappled morning sun.


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Is it a weed or a wildflower I asked a ‘professional’ recently. “It’s only a weed, if it is growing where you don’t want it to grow,” she replied. Of course. It’s not as though I had never heard that before:)

So this flower grows prolifically all around here, and in the yards of everyone else I ask. It it in every flower and vegetable bed, and the fields. The good news is that it is easy to pull out. The bad news is that it seed prolifically. And if you don’t put the pulled weed in the trash or compost, it will re-root where ever it is thrown. A darn sturdy plant, it is.

I did learn its name and that it is native to this area.  When I looked up Oregon wildflowers online, I learned that I mis-heard the name of this plant.  Instead of winterflower it is actually named bitterflower.   I did hear that this is an edible plant, but I venture that the name gives an idea of how it tastes.   Don’t think I will rush to try the greens anytime soon.  Besides, they are so small, it would take an awful lot of leaf picking to get much more than a mouthful. Kind of like wild strawberries, which are so tiny, one picks seemingly forever to get a small bowl full.