Spring is an exciting time in the woodlands, there are so many spring or ephemeral wildflowers blooming that it is it is hard to keep track of them all – each corner offers a new surprise if you look carefully. Of course, many of these flowers are small, some are even insignificant (although still very cute). Summer still holds many surprises and you should not feel like there is nothing new in the woods right now.
Summer wildflowers can be large and imposing and yes, some are still small. The woodlands offers cool shade, drops in temperature as you want down a hill into a ravine. Small breezes blow through the woodlands keeping you cool and comfortable in the summer. The woodland wildflowers tend to be white rather than any other color. Right now goats beard, black bugbane and tall meadow rue are blooming. Tall meadow rue is just that, tall. It blooms at over 6 feet tall, it has lovely white, airy flowers. I have seen a it as a common roadside plant along the wooded lanes. Goats beard is often referred to as Astilbe on steroids. It grows to over three feet tall and has foot-tall flowers that do look like Astilbe. Black bugbane is just starting to bloom and is one of my favorites. The full, bushy perennial sends up white spike flowers that are, again, over 6 feet tall. My summer crew feels that its down-fall is the scent of the flowers. It is kind of strange, something like faint moth-balls, but I don’t mind it considering the plants imposing structure and tall white flowers. The goats beard and the black bugbane both make great border plants in shade conditions. They also create something of a living fence if needed. It is only fence-like in summer, however.[lightbox link=”http://norcrosswildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/actaea_racemosa.black_cohosh-e1499793591929.jpg” thumb=”http://norcrosswildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/actaea_racemosa.black_cohosh-150×150.jpg” width=”150″ align=”right” title=”” frame=”true” icon=”image” caption=””]Summer wildflowers are not limited to shady locations. The fields and meadows are filled with beautiful, very colorful plants in summer. Black eyed susans, bee balms (we have 5 different species), milkweed and butterfly weed, daisies and Queen Anne’s lace are all found in sunny locations. Butterflies are often found along with the field flowers adding to the color and interest in the gardens. Sometimes I like to take my butterfly guide with me out to the meadow to identify the insects flying around. It is a great way to become familiar with the differences between some of our common butterflies. Of course, Monarch butterflies are attracted to the various kinds of milkweed and I have seen a few in my gardens. Meadows don’t have to be large expanses of old fields, you can plant meadow flowers in a border or a small, sunny section of your yard and still be successful in attracting butterflies as well.