Two examples of Iris stopped me while out for a walk. The hundreds of hybrids provide color to the gardens of spring. Perhaps named after the Goddess Iris. Whatever the origin, the sun was high and dark bushes set a proper background of contrast. It invited photographs.
My route brought me by a small retention pond in the neighborhood. At water’s edge were patches of these yellow Iris pseudacorus. They are native to Europe, northern Africa, and temperate Asia.
We left the house in a hurry this morning after checking radar. Showers were headed our way, and we wanted to stretch our legs without getting too wet. As I write this, the radar shows it is raining here now. However, the sidewalk is not even damp. I guess that is one more example of why you shouldn’t believe everything you see online.
When we walk, our attention is usually quite mixed. Sometimes we chew over world problems, sometimes personal ones. The “personal” ones often have to do with our children. Parenting adults is hard! They have a whole range of issues we’ve otherwise moved past. We also enjoy the noises outside. Humming crickets and locusts, peeping frogs, and various bird songs capture our notice. Today we heard catbirds, bluejays and cardinals, chickadees, and a flicker or two, among others. We watch for daddy longlegs, small snakes, and the occasional chipmunk crossing the pavement. And we enjoy the wildflowers.
A few weeks ago, there were dozens of wildflower species blooming along trails, railroad tracks, and streets. Now there are fewer, but those left are some of my favorites. Though the Queen Anne’s Lace has faded, goldenrod is coming on with bright yellow brushes. Jewelweeds still display their brilliant orange drops. Cattails stand proud and tall, and the few thistles allowed to grow wild are bursting with their lavender-colored blooms.
Before we left this morning I insisted we bring a camera, something we rarely do. Jim captured the shots below.
Our cup plants near the woods behind the house were in bright morning sunlight today. Weeks ago, this particular plant was standing tall with flower buds showing. A deer passed by soon after and ate the tops. Today, the plant rewarded us with this view after having grown back for another try.
Two features of silphium perfoliatum stand out in addition to the cheerful yellow flowers. The main stem is square, not round. And, they have leaves arranged to cup and gather water. Read more about these plants here.
Cup plant | Note the way it captures water around the square stem
Our walking path takes us by the garden of a neighbor who has many Hibiscus plants nearby. We check on each pass to see which ones are in bloom. Their flowers are large and showy. Each is about 6 inches (15 cm) across. Some are deep red, pink, and white with different combinations.
The link provided here has many interesting facts, a list of the many species, and photos of many of them.
I almost missed them as I strolled past with camera in hand. I was looking around for subjects to photograph. These Prairie Spiderwort flowers (Tradescantia occidentalis) peeked over the edge of the ditch and caught my eye in the bright sunlight. They are common in the Great Plain of the U.S., but are listed as threatened in Canada.
Prairie Spiderwort can be a bioassay for radiation. The stamen hairs are normally blue as in these photos. But, exposed them to energetic neutrons, Gamma rays, X-rays, and the higher energy ultraviolet, the hairs turn pink.
The weather changes a lot in Iowa. It is one of the features of our state we like. Now and then, we enjoy some of the most splendid and beautiful days. It was like that recently with absolutely clear skies, very light breeze, and 72˚F. We changed clothes and drove a few miles to a favorite place, FW Kent County Park. We hiked around the central lake and then around a smaller pond in the northeast corner. Total distance was about 2 miles. Not far. But, it was a beautiful day. Not much needs to be said. The pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy!
Queen of the Wildflowers. Tall patches like these are all over the park. The ample rains of summer have made them strong.
Sawtooth Sunflowers according to the Conservation Manager at the the park.
King of the Roof Truss. Many examples of old truss-style bridges are displayed on the path around the lake.
The perfect mirror.
The wild plums are ripe. The fruit pulp is sweet, but the skins are bitter.
This is the last of the Tiny Flowers posts. Check the recent posts at the right for links to the earlier ones. The term ‘flowers’ is actually not correct this time. What I found in hunting for 1/4″ flowers was a berry of that size. It deserved to be in the spotlight with its translucent orange skin.
Tatarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) is a shrub found in most of Canada and the U.S. except for the south eastern states. It is not native according to the USDA. The plant is native to eastern Asia and was first introduced into North America as an ornamental in 1752. It is classified as noxious and invasive in several regions.
My two photos were taken from about 2″ away using the super-macro setting with no flash.
In front of our house we have some shrubs. One type is spirea. Some species of spirea have pure white flowers. The one in front of our house has pink flowers. It is known as Japanese Meadowsweet (Spiraea japonica). The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture shows it distributed in the eastern third of the country and part of Canada. It is not native here. It is native to Japan, China, and Korea. Many nurseries offer it as a yard shrub.
We like the bunches of pink it presents in the late spring and early summer. Closer inspection shows a mass of individual small 1/4″ flowers.
This picture reminds me that it is getting to be time to trim the shrubs before they get too big.
This tiny 1/4″ flower reminds me of an iris. It is actually from an ivy plant called Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea). It goes by many names: ground-ivy, gill-over-the-ground, alehoof, tunhoof, catsfoot, field balm, and run-away-robin to name a few. According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, it is not native to North America. But, it is widespread. It is actually native to Europe and SE Asia.
It is an attractive ground ivy with gently scalloped leaves. It is part of the mint family (Lamiaceae). It doesn’t climb up. Instead, it propagates horizontally along the ground. This vine in the center is about 6″ long and is near the edge of my lawn.
Unfortunately, it is quite invasive and can take over spaces from other plants. Here it tries to make headway into my lawn grass. It weaves its way several feet in through the grass setting down rhizomes every few inches. It can be pulled out. But, it is tedious to remove.
The previous two posts featured yellow flowers. Here is one more. It is another member of the bean, legume, pea family (Fabaceae). Bird’s-Foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is found throughout Canada and the U.S. except for Nevada, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and S. Carolina. It is also found throughout Britain, mainland Europe, Asia, north and east Africa, and in mountainous parts of the tropics. According to the United States Dept. of Agriculture site, it is not native here. They have clusters of flowers on low growing plants. Each individual flower is quite small. Remember, I was hunting for 1/4″ or less.
Note the visiting fly on my finger for a sense of scale.
According to the Wildscreen ARKivesite, this plant can go by as many as 70 other names such as: bacon and eggs, butter and eggs, Devil’s fingers, Dutchman’s clogs, granny’s toenails, hen and chickens, lady’s fingers, lady’s slipper.
The name can be derived from the leaves in this image from the Illinois Wildflowers site, our next door neighbor. Note the three leaves and their birdfoot shape.