Wildflower Wednesday For February 2011

The calendar page has turned to reveal Wildflower Wednesday, brainchild of dear friend and travel companion Gail of Clay and Limestone. The trouble with this meme at this time of year is that the early bulbs which usher spring into the Fairegarden are not natives of our region. But every plant is native to somewhere, correct? This little batch of earlies are wildlings in the moist, rich climes of England, a place near and dear to our hearts.
Photo: February 18, 2011 home
Snowdrop ( Galanthus nivalis ) White nodding flowers from Feb – March. Plant in a dry or damp shady area as part of a woodland or spring meadow setting.

Photo: April 14, 2009 home

Without realizing why, the wildflowers of England hold great appeal to me and have been planted widely here. Not only are they fabulous and beautiful, the magic in them is strong, being listed in most sources as part of the beloved crops of the wee folk, the garden fairies. Little bells make excellent hidey holes, sleeping bags, umbrellas and general festive decor for the many balls and cotillions put on by the fey.
Photo: Stockton Bury, England, May, 2010
Bluebell ( Hyacinthoides-non-scripta ) Blue scented flowers from April – June. Ideal for a dry shady, woodland setting.

Imagining fields of these mood altering flowers instead of the smallish clumps that are growing here, and having seen some of them firsthand last May during the Two Innocents Abroad tour, click here to view those posts, produces daydreams of the highest caliber.
Photo: April 17, 2009 home
Summer Snowflake ( Leucojum aestivum ) White flowers like large Snowdrops in April/May. Plant in moist or boggy areas.

Early and ephemeral, disappearing after the foliage recharges the bulbs for next year’s show, even the lowly are prized. The truth of it is, with the wisdom that maturity brings, the more lowly the plant, the more revered it has become.
Photo: April 19, 2010 home
Came with the property, Star of Bethlehem ( Ornithogalum umbrellatum ) Clusters of white star shaped flowers in April/May. Suitable for a dry spring meadow.

Perhaps this obsession with delight in the natives of a far away land is due to the preponderance of English gardens displayed in books and magazines to the closeting of our own US natives for so many years. English cottage garden style is the epitome of what a garden means to many, although the tall grass prairie and seed head rich meadow natural look is becoming more popular. Those styles, prairie and meadow are alive and thriving here, but they belong to the seasons of summer and fall more than spring and late winter. In late winter flowing into the glories of April in our zone 7a garden, bulbs rule.
Photo: April 3, 2010 home
Snakes Head Fritillary ( Fritillaria meleagris ) Chequered red/purple to cream nodding flowers in April. Plant in a bright area in a damp soil that will not dry out.

The common Cowslip might be the most revered of the Europeans that we grow. Started from seed many years ago, one of few success stories in the annals of seed starting disappointments here, the growth rate has been such that division has been possible. A small swath is ever expanding in the fairy garden, joined by the true English bluebells to form a gentle reminder of those memorable moments from across the pond last year.
Photo: April 16, 2010 home
Primula veris Clusters of tubular yellow flowers on stems raised above rosettes of mid green leaves.

This most welcome blast of yellow comes from the small in stature but large in presence daffodil formerly thought to be Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’, but it more likely is the species found in Western Europe and the British Isles, Narcissus pseudonarcissus. Our meager skills at plant identification cannot tell for sure which is the true name, but knowing this darling grows wild in my ancestral earth (Northumberlandshire) brings a smile. There is no daffodil that can compare to the abundance of bloom and prolific procreation it exhibits here. Wooded lots that have never seen human habitation in recent history display rivers of yellow in waning winter, easily spied amongst the bare branches of deciduous denizens.
Photo: March 24, 2010 home
Wild daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus)
“When daffodils begin to peer … why then comes in the sweet of year” sings Autolycus in Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale.

Photo: February 21, 2011 home sweet home

Every flower is a wildflower somewhere, naturally occurring. Gardeners may try to bend them to their own human will, still the the wildness remains. Sweet.


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19 Responses to Wildflower Wednesday For February 2011

  1. Donna says:

    love the natives…mine are buried under snow so my post will be a walk down memory lane…but we will see our natives soon!!

    Hi Donna, thanks. I hope you can see your natives soon as well. Our own natives will be coming along shortly, I hope. πŸ™‚

  2. One says:

    It’s good to see beautiful flowers blooming so early for you. Spring has arrived?

    Hi One, thanks, it is always nice to see flowers. It is too early for Spring here and there is a worry that the plants will be damaged when and if our normal weather returns. Since the weather is out of our control, the flowers are a joy to behold. πŸ™‚

  3. Carol says:

    I am so looking forward to “the sweet of the year”, when wildflowers from everywhere pop up who knows where in my garden. “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”

    Hi Carol, what fun! It is a surprise for me as well, even though I wrote down where bulbs were planted, the words are not nearly specific enough to know where to look other than a general bed. I really should mark them or write better locations, but that would take the fun out of the hide and seek game in late winter. HA πŸ™‚

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  5. Eileen says:

    It is so lovely to see the first signs of spring. I have Early Sensation and I can see them poking out of the ground, but it will be awhile with more snow coming.


    Hi Eileen, thanks. Does your Early Sensation look like my daff? It would be wonderful if I could be certain what this little early bird was. Of course I would have to go back and correct a whole lotta posts with the right name, if it is something else. πŸ™‚

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It is that wildness that allows them to be cultivated in the most distant places. Love seeing all these spring bloomers. It won’t be long now.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for that insightful comment! I had never thought about it in those terms, but you are so right. These are flowers that are grown across the world in temperate places in some form or another. May your spring come soon, but not too soon, my friend. (I can’t tell if it has come too soon here or not!) πŸ™‚

  7. gail says:

    Dear Frances, What a sweet post…I am going appreciate anew all my bell shaped flowers and know the faeries are happier for them. Wasn’t it exciting to visit the UK and see their natives blooming so beautifully! Do you remember seeing Comfrey growing all over? I thought it lovely. It might be one of their thuggish wildflowers, though!
    Happy Wildflower Wednesday to you~Hoping the day is warm and you can play in your garden. xxoogail

    Dear Gail, thanks. Our visit to England will always be remembered fondly, even the trying to sleep on the plane! Shared pain! I do remember the Comfrey and saw the Mouse Creek has some. I will play in the garden even if it is not warm, it is the siren song here. πŸ™‚

  8. commonweeder says:

    We have a great native plant nursery near us operated by the NE Wildflower Society. I keep adding natives, but it will be a while before any of them are blooming here in the north. In the meantime I love being able to admire yours.

    Hi Pat, thanks for being able to enjoy our zone 7 growing season. It is early even for us. I envy you your native plant nursery, what a treasure to have nearby. It would be hard not be go there every day for me. πŸ™‚

  9. Lovely collection of some of my favorite early spring flowers, many of which I sell at my nursery. I can’t believe all these flowers are in bloom in your garden when it is 10 degrees in PA with 6″ of snow—so jealous.

    Hi Carolyn, thanks. Not all of the flowers shown are blooming here now, as noted by the dates of the photos, but we do have some flowers. Having lived in PA, I know exactly how you feel, having moved there from Oklahoma. I never got used to the length and severity of the winters there.

  10. Rose says:

    Ah, so lovely, Frances. Native or not, all these little beauties are a welcome sight this time of year. I agree that there is something so appealing and maybe even magical about English country gardens; they are still my vision of the “perfect” garden.

    Hi Rose, thanks. We love these flowers just as much as if they were natives here, (Don’t tell Gail!) You are right about the magic of the English gardens. If you ever have the chance to go see them in person, do go! πŸ™‚

  11. Balisha says:

    Foggy, dreary, dismal day..
    Another week with snow on the way.
    In my garden cold, I wanted to play..
    Come to Fairegarden for a beautiful day.

    Oh Balisha, that is wonderful, thank you! I hope you enjoyed coming for a play date here, and hope for a speedy spring to allow such play in your own garden soon. πŸ™‚

  12. Marguerite says:

    I’m gazing obsessively at the many beautiful bulbs popping up in your yard. Starting to get a little claustrophobic here up north stuck indoors with the snow blowing wildly out of doors. What I would give for a few bulbs in my yard right now but I’ll content myself with your lovely checkered lilies.

    Hi Marguerite, thanks for stopping by. We are heartened by the showing of bulbs and flowers here now, although it seems things are progressing a little too fast and might be zapped by a sharp cold spell. It happens like that here sometimes. But for now, it seems to be spring, so we will enjoy it! πŸ™‚

  13. How ingenious of you to observe that every plant is native to somewhere, Frances–well, except for the cultivars, right? Now I feel better about including a few of my plants in the WW meme. Many I love are native to someplace other than my home. We’re talking about wildflowers and natives and I just assumed it could only be those that grow in our own specific locals. So thanks for opening up a new window for me to branch out a little when I join WW. Your photos are beautiful. I just ordered some Snowdrops from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens to plant as soon as I get them. It will be my first experience with them.

    Hi Jan, thanks. I really wanted to participate in Gail’s wildflower meme, did not do so last month. Sometimes we need to stretch the rules a little bit. Carolyn’s snowdrops are so beautiful, I have drooled over them myself! Good luck with yours, I know they will do great in your lovely garden. πŸ™‚

  14. Lona says:

    What a spring filled posting Frances.Pictures of what is to come. I think the checkered Fritillaria is such an unusually pretty bloom. I always forget to add some to the garden until I see them on someone’s blog.
    Or maybe they are on my ‘never ending plant list’ and I forgot to check it. LOL!

    Hi Lona, thanks. The Fritts are so interesting, I agree. I have want lists everywhere, including on the computer. Blogs have had a huge impact on those lists for me as well. πŸ™‚

  15. What a beautiful post Frances. Ah Spring, hurry up.

    I remember years ago driving up the A34 near Oxford on a daily commute. Visible from the road was a field that served as a flood plain, which come spring would be just full of Snakes Head Fritillary, a real treat and a protected place. You can read about them at http://www.suite101.com/content/the-snakes-head-fritillary-a62173


    Thanks for that link, Rob. I can imagine a field of these beauties, in the wild, even. So glad there is a place where they survive. Spring has made an early appearance here, so far. It is beautiful but slightly worrisome, a hard frost would kill many things for the season and some outright.

  16. Lola says:

    Hi Frances.I loved all the pics of your lovely flowers. I have the snowflake & it is in full bloom now. I put them in a row in front of the chain link fence. They really stand out. I would like to get a start of the snowdrops as they are different. I brought the snowflakes back from N.C. several yrs ago. Some of my Daffy’s are from there too.

    Hi Lola, how wonderful for you! I do love those snowflakes, they are like little petticoats with green dots. They were in my parent’s yard when I was growing up, always loved them. Good deal on the daffs too. πŸ™‚

  17. Randy Emmitt says:


    This Summer Snowflake is amazing, really like it. Enjoyed your posting. I planted some normal snowflakes this past fall.

    Hi Randy, thanks. The Leucojums are so sweet, spring, summer or fall! I planted some fall bloomers last year, they are so tiny that you need a magnifying glass to see them, but the same little bell shaped skirt is there. πŸ™‚

  18. Maybe some day I can convince snowflakes to live here, Frances, but I fell in love with them from books – how fun to read in the comment above that they bring back memories childhood in your parents’ garden!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Hi Annie, thanks for stopping by. I hope you can convince some to live with you as well. They are such cute Southern Belles in their hoop skirt petticoats. πŸ™‚

  19. My theory is that we are drawn to recreate the gardens of our childhood. I suspect the gardens of your childhood were filled with the English bulbs.
    I feel so lucky to have grown up surrounded by lots of native wildflowers. I can grow what I desire and look environmentally sensitive at the same time.

    Hi MMD, I believe you are right about the gardens of our childhood. The spring bulbs were always fascinating to me, the shapes and colors and being low to the ground where a child could study them up close helped too. You are lucky for your natives background. πŸ™‚

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