SHHHH!  We Are Still Sleeping   Posted 4/18/17

Coltsfoot, Spring Beauty, Trout Lily and all Spring flowers are still tucked securely under a layer of leaves and approximately a foot of snow on 3/23/17.  The snow will eventually melt and a few warm spring days will bring them back to life.  We will welcome the yellow Coltsfoot along our back roads.  Spring Beauty along with Trout Lilies will pop up in our lawns and meadows.  The Trilliums, Lady Slippers, Ferns and the rest of our many local wildflowers will appear for our enjoyment as well!

The Pussy Willows are already beginning to swell and will soon break free of their covers with the help of some warm breezes and sunshine.  The Maple buds are beginning to swell and the sap season will soon end.  Look closely and you will be able to see some Weeping Willows already turning yellow with buds and tiny leaves.

Be patient, spring is here and will soon be in full bloom.  Venture out and enjoy, it’s been a long and strange winter!

Ruth McKeon
Warblings, Spring 2016


Late Spring and Early Summer Wildflowers, Plants and Shrubs   Posted 6/17/16

Spring has returned and apparently bounded directly into summer with temperatures in the high 80s and even 90s in some areas. Many early spring wildflowers like Spring Beauty, Coltsfoot, Trout Lily and Dutchman's Breeches have already blossomed and gone to seed.  They will reappear next spring.

Others are just beginning to bloom -- bright yellow early Buttercups are popping up along ditches, roadways, fields and lawns.   The silky basal leaves grow on stems 6 to 12" tall.  Yellow Goatsbeard has grass-like leaves and smooth stems with long brackets that support the 1 to 2 inch yellow blooms that close at midday.   They grow 1 to 3 feet high in waste areas and roadsides.  Wild Columbine (left) also a member of the Buttercup Family, is a beautiful, delicate, nodding flower growing along moist ledges and rocky woods.  They usually have scarlet flowers with yellow centers.

A Moccasin Flower or Lady Slipper (right) a member of the Orchid Family, is truly a wonderful find.  It is deeply veined with a heavy pink pouch (rarely wihite or yellow).  It grows 6 to 15 inches high in acid woods and bogs. This very rare flower is protected by law, as are many of our native wildflowers.

Pink Azalea (Pinxter Flower), a shrub, grows 2 to 10 feet tall along woods and abandoned fields.  Very fragrant pink flowers appear before the leaves.  Stamens and pistils protrude from the tubular blooms.  If you are lucky enough to find a patch of Wild Ramps (Leeks), dig a few and prepare a pot of "Potato Leek Soup."  Absolutely delicious!

Don't overlook the many ferns that cover the forest floor.  How many members of the fern family can you find?  Many more wildflowers, plants and shrubs are just beginning to grow and bloom.  Take a hike through the woods and fields in your area and see how many you can find. Enjoy!

Ruth McKeon
Warblings, Summer 2016


Summer is waning and fall is approaching Posted 9/13/14

Steeplebush, photo by Ruth McKeon
photo by Ruth McKeon
Click to enlarge

Summer is gradually heading toward fall and Jack Frost is lurking in the wings. I hope you will be able to spend some time outside and enjoy the wildflowers and shrubs that are currently blooming in our area.

Perhaps you can find some Virgin’s- Bower, a member of the Buttercup Family, in a thicket or along a streambed. The white blossoms are followed by gray silky plumes adhering to the seeds. It is also known as “Old Man’s Beard” or “Grandfather’s Moustache.“

Surely you will find Steeple Bush, which is commonly known as Hardhack, growing along a stone wall or in a pasture. The fuzzy white or pink steeples blossom from the top down atop woody stems one to four feet tall.

White Sweet Clover grows abundantly along rural roadways, fields and waste areas. White flowers grow profusely among leaves and tips of branches. Leaflets are small and toothed in sets of 3s. White Sweet Clover grows one to eight feet tall.

Virgin's Bower, photo by Ruth McKeon
Virgin's Bower
photo by Ruth McKeon
Click to enlarge

Queen Anne’s Lace (wild carrot) with its flat-topped compound blossoms and green feathery collars blankets our fields and meadows as well as our roadways.

Let’s not forget our Milkweed -- Common Milkweed is about to go to seed unless it has been mowed (i.e. hayfield) and is again coming into blossom for the second time to the delight of bees and butterflies. Monarchs are especially grateful for another chance to lay their eggs .Pink to lavender star-shaped blooms grow atop plants reaching two to six feet tall in fields and meadows.

Swamp Milkweed blossoms a bit later and can be found in marshy swamps and wet meadows. Its flowers are deep pink and star-shaped in dense clusters atop straight stems one to five feet tall. Swamp Milkweed leaves are much slimmer than Common Milkweed leaves. Both Milkweeds have white, milky sap. These are but a few of the many wildflowers shrubs, ferns and grasses growing profusely in fields, meadows, pastures, woodlands and along the roadways.

Spend some time outside before the first frost strikes and winter sets in!! See how many new names you can add to your list of wildflowers and shrubs!!

Ruth McKeon
Warblings, Fall 2014


Time for a Springtime Wildflower Stroll   Posted 9/13/14

Black Mustard, photo by Ruth McKeon
Black Mustard
photo by Ruth McKeon
Click to enlarge

After a long frigid winter, spring has finally arrived. Now is the time for a leisurely trek through the fields, forests and swampy areas to discover new wildflowers and shrubs along with some old favorites.

It's a bit late for the bright yellow Colt's Foot, as its flowers have already turned into tufts of fluff blowing in the wind. However, new wildflowers are just beginning to bloom.

The bright yellow blossoms of Black Mustard line our rural roadways and flourish in our fields and meadows at the present time. The young tender leaves of this plant can be cooked and eaten as greens. The seeds contain oil that serves as seasoning.

Of course, everyone is familiar with the Dandelion (the bane of the fanatical green lawn grower). No weed is more prolific or successful than the Dandelion. Its parachute shaped seeds (fruit) stay aloft indefinitely, as long as the humidity stays below 70%. Tender young Dandelion leaves can also add some flavor to your salad.

Blueberry, photo by Ruth McKeon
photo by Ruth McKeon
Click to enlarge

Field Pussytoes, the most common species of Pussytoes in our area, grow in dry fields and open slopes. The soft gray fuzzy tops grow 4-10 inches tall and often form dense mats.

Forget-me-nots (4 to 24 inches tall) with sky blue flowers and yellow centers, sometimes stand erect or may sprawl along ditches and marshes. Its name is justified by a legend of a lover tragically lost.

Many, many more wildflowers, herbs and weeds are available for you to view, as are many shrubs and trees in blossom at this time. High and low blueberries, choke cherries and wild apple trees are part of Mother Nature's flower garden.

Take some time off from your many springtime chores and see how many new species you can discover. Perhaps you will find some Bottle Gentian, St. Johnswort, Dame's Rocket, White Campion, Marsh Marigolds, Starflowers or Wild Strawberries.

If you are truly lucky, you may stumble on to a Northern Pitcher plant with its purple to brick red flowers nodding on its leafless stalks with leaves clustered at its base, pitcher shaped with flared tops.



Some Late Summer and Early Fall Wildflowers   Posted 9/13/14

Now is the time to search for late Summer and early Fall wildflowers growing along our rural roadways and in our meadows and woodlands.

Moonglow, photo by Ruth McKeon
Moonglow, photo by Ruth McKeon
Click to enlarge

One of our most common and prolific wildflowers is Goldenrod. Found along most of our local roadways, Goldenrod includes several varieties. The most common is probably Tall Goldenrod (2-8 ft. tall). Black-eyed Susans also grow along roadways and in meadows and waste areas. Another closely related coneflower is the Prairie Coneflower (2-5 ft. tall) with its brown cone and drooping yellow petals. Common Chicory (1-5 ft. tall) with its blue ray flowers joins the Black-eyed Susans and Goldenrod along our highways.

There are many, many more attractive wildflowers growing in abundance this time of the year. A few include the Cudweeds (Pearly Everlasting), St. Johnswort, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Purple Loosestrife, Jewel Weed (Touch-me-not), Field Milkwort, Queen Anne's Lace, the Dogbanes, Sweet Joe-Pye-Weed, Bee Balm, Common Mullein, Asters and Yarrow.

Cardinal Flower, photo by Rick Bunting
Cardinal Flower
photo by Rick Bunting
Click to enlarge

Joe-Pye-Weed, photo by Ruth McKeon
photo by Ruth McKeon
Click to enlarge


Get outside, take a walk (or ride) and see how many different species you can find – you will be amazed at just how many different varieties your list will contain. ENJOY!!


Ruth McKeon
Warblings, Fall 2013


Take Time for the Spring Flowers   Posted 9/13/14

Spring Beauty, photo by Brent McKeon
Spring Beauty
photo by Brent McKeon
Click to enlarge

One of my fondest memories is trekking through the woods, with my mother, looking for wildflowers on a warm sunny day in the spring. As a lover of nature and all living things, my mother introduced me to the wonders of the outdoors at an early age. We searched the fields, woods and streams around our home trying to find as many wildflowers and plants as we could.

One of the brightest and earliest spring flowers we found does not always live in the forest but can be found in fields, stream beds and waste areas. It also appears along our rural roadways bursting into bloom in March and April. The bright yellow perky blooms of Colt's Foot are one of the earliest and most welcome signs that spring is on the way. Defying the cold and sometimes snowy weather it persists and bursts into bloom lifting our spirits after a long dreary winter. Before we know it, other spring flowers follow suit and begin popping up all over. The tiny little white flowers of the Harbinger-of -Spring also appear in the deep woods in March through May. A stalk, two to ten inches tall has groups of tiny white flowers and a single divided leaf at the bottom. Along comes Spring Beauty with its pretty white/pink flowers striped with veins of dark pink. Growing dose to the ground it is found in fields, forests and stream beds. We have a beautiful large patch growing under our fir trees behind our barn.

Dutchman's Breeches, photo by Mary Collier
Dutchman's Breeches
photo by Mary Collier
Click to enlarge

Next we find the lacy leaves of Dutchman's Breeches, with stems of tiny white britches and yellow lobes at the bottom. In the same moist rich woods, we also find Squirrel Corn with its nodding heart shaped blossoms and lacy leaves. As spring progresses, we find the Trilliums in deep rich woods:  Large White with three petals , 2-3.5" across, 8-20" tall; Red or "Stinking Benjamin", which appears in dark red or maroon and cream color with a foul odor. Smaller, white striped with red is Nodding Trillium with three small white petals folded back and hanging down. All have a whorl of three leaves atop a slender stem, 6 to 20" tall.

Along come the Trout Liles ("Wild Oats") with their spotted olive leaves and yellow petals curling back to form a tiny globe. They pop up in many places including fields, lawns, and even in flower beds. Trailing Arbutus shows up with pretty pink fragrant flowers on vines that hug the forest floor. Arbutus like moist, rich woods, as well, and are protected by law. If you are truly lucky, you will find some Lady Slippers (Moccasin Flowers), 6- 24" tall usually with one slipper-like flower on top. However, Showy Lady Slippers may have two blossoms on one stem. Although pink is the most common color, they also appear in yellow, white and pink and white varieties. Lady Slippers are also protected by law.

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