Where The Wildflowers Are

What began as a traipse around the Fairegarden turned into a road trip for the September 2010 Wildflower Wednesday post. My dear friend Gail of Clay And Limestone had the brilliant idea to nurture the sharing of wildflowers by garden bloggers worldwide on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Shot on color assist accent mode is Rudbeckia triloba growing in my home garden, purchased from our favorite nursery Mouse Creek. However there are wildflowers that are allowed to grow and flower, plants that were growing here before this garden came into cultivation that are living so much more happily along roadsides and in unmown fields. Let us get in the gas guzzler, cameras in tow and see what is out there on this last day of summer, or so the calender says anyway. What better place to find wildflowers than in the wilderness?

Ironweed, Vernonia gigantea looks regal as the dominant resident in this low lying field near the Hiwassee River. It has been observed in purple flower in many areas where our continuing drought has reduced surrounding grasses to dormancy, allowing it to lead the forces of wildflowerdom as fall approaches.

It can also be seen growing in the Fairegarden here and there. Ours bows to the magnificence of the true wildlings in natural surroundings.

There were large stands of yellow flowers brightening the scenery, most were believed to be Rudbeckias, but this flower form appears to be that of Helenium autumnale.

That can be found here as well, but not growing nearly as happily.

Goldenrod and White Snakeroot, Solidago and Ageratina are often found hanging out together, in man made gardens as well as…

…In the wild, with roles reversed as to who stands before whom. But do take note of the lavender pink flower in the background, the Thistle. We do not grow that here, …



…We should. We do have male and female Eastern Goldfinches and Variegated Fritillaries. These birds and butterflies were thick as flies on the thistles, luckily for the photographer who was merely on the lookout for blooming wildflowers.

Wild Ageratum, Conoclinium coelestinum was seen in great drifts along the highway. There was no shoulder on which to pull off and large trucks seemed to be trying to break the world speed record on the winding mountain road, so there are no images to share, but it was a beautiful sight to behold at 55MPH. The same plant also calls the Fairegarden its home, but hasn’t opened quite yet. It is much more pleasureable to bend down carefully, hovering over the flowers with camera in hand without vehicular whizzings by.


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23 Responses to Where The Wildflowers Are

  1. sequoiagardens says:

    Darn. Is it such time again? Perhaps I will get mine in this month, albeit a few days late! Do love the ironweed! Wonder if it will prove a rampant invader here… must google it! πŸ˜‰

    Hi Jack, the time does fly by, doesn’t it? Latecomers are welcome, I am sure! I can imagine the wild ironweed joining your beautiful garden. It is the darkest purple you can imagine, really setting off the yellows, reds, tans and other colors of fall here. Hope it will work for you. It seeds nicely but not thuggishly, plays well with others! πŸ™‚

  2. Valerie says:

    Hi Frances: I did not have much to share today for Wildflower Wednesday. I did think about a ride on the bike down the road to take photos of some in the fields but did not do it. I liked that you did and found some beauties.

    Hi Valerie, thanks for visiting. Even one wildflower is good! I always think about going out into the country where the wildflowers grow in such abundance. It was very gratifying to do so and will be come a regular staple for the wildflower posts here. I would love to see what grows in the wild where you live! πŸ™‚

  3. lotusleaf says:

    Hi Frances! It is a treat to read your blg posts and wander in your garden!

    Hi sweet Lotusleaf, thank you for those sweet words! I am so glad you enjoy it here. πŸ™‚

  4. Gail says:

    Frances, Good morning! Very nice, I love the juxtaposition of home and wilderness wildflowers! I saw the same beauties when I walked at Edwin Warner Park~great swathes of them. Including the thistles covered with butterflies! The color assist rubeckia is wonderful. I am so glad you joined the celebration! xxxgail

    Good morning Gail, thank you for this wonderful opportunity to share the wildflowers and help us appreciate them more. I would not knowingly introduce the thistles into my garden, but man, the birds and butterflies were all over them in the wild. Going out into the countryside was so fun, I will do it from now on for this special event. πŸ™‚

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I have tried to get Ironweed to start in my garden. I envision a patch like the one you pictured here. I think they are the most beautiful hue. Happy Wildflower Wednesday.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. I have tried as well, scattered seed, even grown them in the greenhouse to be planted out in spring. I think that moist field had the perfect conditions for them, that is the densest grouping I have ever seen. A noble goal for our own gardens. πŸ™‚

  6. Great post Frances! So appreciated as you risked life and limb to get the beautiful portraits of these lovely wildflowers. I love your last shot of wild Ageratum! ;>)

    Hi Carol, thanks so much. I was surprised by how much traffic was on these back roads, especially up in the mountains, lots of big trucks too. It is so much more relaxing to be out in the garden with the camera, not having to worry about someone veering off the road towards me. There were even signs on the roadside to watch out for trucks straying from their lanes because the curves were so sharp. The wild ageratum grows happily in my safe garden. πŸ™‚

  7. Joy says:

    Frances girl .. way too much time since I have been here .. I don’t know how that happened .. other than my garden misadventures for a “back’ that is not a “pack-mule” ? haha
    Love the black back ground .. it displays the pictures so nicely (I have to do that for my Halloween atmosphere !) .. and I have always loved that header picture, glad you still have it there ! I wish I had more room then I might try a wild flower patch .. they are so beautiful as the season shifts to Autumn .. funny enough is the fact that purple and yellow are so dominate which makes me think of Easter eggs ? haha .. ok .. how that happened I have no idea ? πŸ˜‰

    Hi Joy, thanks for visiting, so nice to see you here. I am sorry about your back, do take care of yourself. We sometimes fool around with other themes on wordpress, just to see what the blog would look like, but always come back to this one. I like it, it is how I want the blog to look so why change it. The purple and yellow are very easter like, as are the spring flowers like crocus. Interesting that both spring and fall are represented by those colors. πŸ™‚

  8. Rose says:

    Ack! I thought WW was next week! I’d better get something together later…

    Beautiful images, Frances, and thanks for braving the dangers of the road to capture all these lovelies for us. Isn’t it amazing how we gardeners work so hard to nurture plants along, and yet these wildflowers do their best without any help from anyone? I’ve been admiring all the blooms along the two-way highway I often drive, but there’s no place to pull off there either, so I have to enjoy them at warp speed:) We do grow thistle here, but not intentionally; I’m not sure I would recommend purposely planting it, even if the finches and butterflies love it.

    BTW, I planted my blackberry lily seeds yesterday and carefully marked them. Then I noticed the stamps on the envelope they came in; I didn’t know if you purposely picked those or not–Sophie didn’t know she was a USPS celebrity!:)

    Hi Rose, thanks for visiting. Yes, this month has 5 Wedenesdays, a bit confusing! I went back to a place that we had seen on a Sunday drive, not remembering that the traffic was so heavy. Maybe Monday is not a good day for such endeavors. I was hoping to get some shots before these areas were bush hogged like they often do at this time of year. There was so much wildlife in there, it really brings home about the important function of the wildflowers to them. Good deal on the seeds, and yes, I used those stamps on purpose for Sophie. Probably way more postage than was necessary, but better too much than too little. πŸ™‚

  9. patandhenry says:

    First off I can’t believe it is the 4th Wednesday in September! I do believe you have shown the most beautiful array of native plants, which just goes to show that we don’t have to consider a wildflower garden limited in any way.

    Hi Pat and Henry, thanks! My garden is not really what I would consider a wildflower garden, but we have decided to let some of the natives that were here grow rather than being pulled as weeds. A very cost efficient way to garden since they were free! πŸ™‚

  10. Goodness, Frances…I didn’t realize it was already the 4th Wed. of the month! Where has the time gone?? I need to get crackin’ on my WW post. I love that most of these natives are found in your garden. The larger groupings in the wild are gorgeous shots, as well. It was nice that you were able to find them in such abundance;-)

    Hi Jan, thanks, so nice to see you here. Yes, time has sped up this month! We are lucky in that so many of these plants were already growing here, and never gave up even when they were being pulled as weeds. I still have to pull some of them since other plants are desired to grow in the garden as well as these aggressive natives. I see them growing so well along the roadside, obviously they don’t need a human gardener at all! πŸ™‚

  11. Leslie says:

    The goldfinch shot is wonderful! I’m intrigued by ‘color assist’ and want to try that out…if my camera has it. I need to check!

    Hi Leslie, thanks. I was thrilled to see the goldfinches on the thistle, they were pigging out on that seed! My camera is a Canon sx1. The setting is on scn, which I thought meant scene but actually says color accent on the wheel on top of the camera. I have to get the book out every time I use it for further details. Good luck with yours! πŸ™‚

  12. Barbarapc says:

    Frances, I’m going out to pull out my ironweed. I’m bringing it into my office and showing it what it’s supposed to look like. I’m then going to put it back and wag my finger at it – all 2″ of it with all 4 leaves. Perhaps somethings just aren’t meant to be. The finch photos are so sweet. Doesn’t it just make your day to be delighted by such a treat?!

    HA Barbara, thanks, that is so funny! I need to give my ironweed some cheerleading as well, and here I thought it was pretty wonderful until I saw that field of it. It takes a couple of years for the baby plants to reach their full potential. Don’t be too harsh on yours just yet. I was overjoyed to see the finches, yes. πŸ™‚

  13. I can just see you planting a thistle. LOL! Just make sure it’s the native one and not the weed. Love the Vernonias.

    Hi MMD, thanks. I won’t be planting any thistles here, they are already growing here and there and get pulled. I let one flower last year, but not seed. They are too pickery! I buy thistle seed for feeders for the finches. Nearly time to get the feeders ready for fall.

  14. Its lovely to see whats in bloom in your area Frances – there’s so much colour and vibrancy in your natives on the last day of summer while over with me we’re in a state of dormancy and its mostly berries and seedheads.

    Hi Rosie, thanks so much. We haven’t really begun the fall show yet, the asters have not opened and there are thousands of them. When the leaves are turning, the hardy mums are blooming and those wildflowers are still colorful, not to mention the flowing grasses, it is a wonderland! We like berries and seedheads too. πŸ™‚

  15. marmee says:

    frances, love your walk on the wild side. it is fascinating to see all that is blooming roadside with our horrible drought.
    i love the sea of ironweed all around us.
    enjoy my friend.
    happy september.

    Hello dear Marmee, thanks for visiting. I agree, with the drought we have been experiencing, no end in sight, the roadside wildflowers have never looked better. The ironweed is especially good looking, I believe it is the grasses gone dormant that allows it to stand alone and be more easily noticed as we whiz by the roadways. A very happy September, where has it gone!, to you as well. πŸ™‚

  16. Marguerite says:

    I really loved the shots of the insects and birds enjoying the thistle. I love the look of thistle and let it stay in my yard despite what others might think. Now I have an extra excuse to leave it there knowing it is enjoyed by the birds.

    Hi Marguerite, thanks and welcome. It was a happy happening to see the birds and butterflies on the thistle as cars and trucks were whizzing past and closely at high speeds. I am glad to hear you have left the thistle, it obviously is highly favored by our friends. πŸ™‚

  17. Jake says:

    Ironweed is beautiful. I saw some in the field behind my house that was blooming. When I went to see what it was I thought it was Ironweed. I Googled it to make sure and then I dug it up and put it in my yard. Our privacy fence doesn’t go down about 5-7ft so that part of the field is our property and it would have just gotten mowed down cause I plan to do stuff back there with it.


    Hi Jake, way to score on the ironweed! I am not at all opposed to digging up plants, especially on your own property! It is a most beautiful dark purple, unlike any other. Hope you get lots of seedlings from it. Study the leaves so you will recognize them as babies. There is a white line down the center, that is how I usually tell what’s what. πŸ™‚

  18. James A-S says:

    Isn’t it weird how one person’s wildflowers are another’s treasured herbaceous plants?
    Vernonias,for example, I love and plant in quite a few gardens. The plants cost about Β£6.00 each (wholesale) and there’s you, getting them for free on the sides of the road.

    Hi James, thanks for visiting, so nice to see you here. I sometimes see our wildflowers featured in the English gardening magazines, more all the time in fact. Since we in the US already prize and pay princely sums for your wildflowers, it seems just and fair for you to do the same for ours. The Vernonia was the first *weed* allowed to grow and flower here when we first began the garden. We were lucky to have a stand of it at the property’s edge. This one we did not even have to dig, along with Solidagos and multiple Asters. Seeds have been scattered of the Ironweed to increase the population, but nothing compares to a whole field of them in the wild. πŸ™‚

  19. Lola says:

    Oh my, Ms Frances. That was a spectacular cruise. Thanks for taking us along. The sheer beauty that abounds in the country side is breathtaking. Love that blue in masses like that. The Thistles are pretty & the birds & butterflies seem to love them too. They use to grow in our yards {back by the tree line} when we lived in the country. Loved it.

    Hi Lola, thanks for going along. There is nothing like the countryside, I always feel at home there, for natural beauty. The critters did adore the thistle though farmers hate it. The cows have an aversion to the pickery-ness, I believe.

  20. Town Mouse says:

    Just lovely, Frances! Love the birds! (As an aside, I’m impressed how much is out there where you are. We won’t have too many wildflowers over here in the dry west until the first rains.)

    Hi Town Mouse, thanks. It is quite different here than in California. I know since we lived there for three years. It seemed so bare in comparison. I wonder if our lack of rainfall, that was once abundant but seems to have disappeared, will affect what grows out in the wild here. Only the toughest can survive.

  21. I was just lamenting that I had missed Wildflower Wednesday this year, alas. Your vernonia is amazing–a different species than those that we grow here, but the same glorious flowers and mighty plant. Wonderful post, Frances.

    Hi Jodi, I think that you can join in with thee Wildflower Wednesday whenever you wish, Gail won’t care! I believe our Vernonia is different than most others, it is soooo tall! I would like to grow the smaller types too, love those dark purple brushes. πŸ™‚

  22. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Oh, how I hope my Vernonias will one day be even 1/10th that lovely!

    Hi Cindy, thanks for dropping by. Me Too! That field of purple was jaw dropping! πŸ™‚

  23. Hi, well first off great post, but the primary reason I’m writing a comment is simply because I really like your design! Like a whole lot! Do you use WordPress and if so is this a premium style?

    Thanks. I do use wordpress and this is a customized Chaotic Soul theme.

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