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Page: Good year for wildflowers

08/12/09 5:55PM By Ruth Page
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(HOST) Commentator Ruth Page has discovered at least one good thing about all the cool, wet weather we've been having. Apparently our wildflowers love it.   

(PAGE)  I‘ve been enjoying this year’s explosion of wildflowers, in response to the cold, wet spring with continuing rain that urges them to richer growth and greater heights.
 
What a treat! Boisterous flowers are growing with abandon on country roadsides. Tiny yellow puffs of a sort of poor relation of the columbine family line paved roads, eagerly sucking in carbon dioxide from auto tailpipes. Behind their little blooms grow rank after rank of bird’s-foot trefoil, small white clover, and big pinky-purple puffs of tall clover. Sumac bushes with wine-red, tall, upright blooms make a fine background for the common cattails lining every wet ditch - and not looking like any feline tail I ever saw.
 
Brilliant purple lupines are dazzling; and, despite their bad habit of taking over home gardens, they‘re stunning on roadsides.
 
To my surprise, this year the delicately beautiful, small bird’s-foot trefoil blossoms are everywhere; in some places they’ve even spread like a marvelous carpet of pure gold. I think they outdo the still-visible varieties of dandelion and the mix of large and small daisies. Purple-and-gold, autumn’s standard color combo, continues with flourishing goldhearted tiny daisies - and the purple vetch that twines among all the roadside plants. Lovely tiny pink five-pointed star flowers make an occasional roadside carpet-runner.
 
I spot handsome asparagus ferns here and there, in one area so many together I hope I can remember the spot next spring and gather a few for lunch. Of course, there’s a lot of ordinary plantain, very homely, but handy as a rub if you have a scratch on your hand or arm. Just crush a couple of leaves and rub them on the spot for relief.
 
Violets, both purple and yellow, earlier sported happily in common grass. Now, we see thistles with decorative puffs of big, fuzzy lavender blooms that make up for the prickles on the plants. Handsome Queen Anne’s lace invites bees and butterflies to rest on its lacy white platforms. Unfortunately, poisonous wild parsnip, looking like yellow Queen Anne’s lace, is, in places, crowding out the innocent plants. Nasty.
 
Chicory, sometimes called bachelor’s button, lifts its pale blue blossoms to the sun, and cheery lavender harebells appear where there’s water. Black-eyed Susans are now common (I think they’re really brown-eyed), and I spot buttercups as well as the many-stemmed shrubby cinquefoil now and then.
 
Walk the country roadsides; it’s a super flower show this year.
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