Several years ago a lovely buttercup appeared in my garden. After much debate, I decided it was an Hispid Buttercup, although the plant in the garden was much bigger and lusher than any in the wild.
As is the case with wildflowers, the next year produced a bumper crop of Hispid Buttercups in my garden. I pulled most leaving a couple to grace the garden with their sunny yellow flowers for most of the summer.
The plant was not happy with my garden as a place to grow. It decided the entire yard needed a few buttercups. Some made it across the road into the back yard.
On the way to town I pass a horse pasture, at least it is supposed to be a pasture. It is yellow as the Hispid Buttercup has taken over.
Normally the plant is small, only a foot tall or so. It sports a handful of flowers. It favors drier areas with a bit of shade as the edges of the woods.
The flowers are glossy. They really have a special chemical giving them their bright shine making them a nightmare to photograph. Cloudy days work the best along with restricting the light setting.
The flowers are smaller, about three quarters of an inch across. Pistils form a pompom in the center. They become a little fruit filled with seeds.
If you can put up with the invasive nature, the Hispid Buttercup would be a lovely addition to a flower garden. It blooms from late spring through most of the summer. In the garden the plant is around 18 inches tall forming a mound of green foliage hidden by the yellow flowers.
In my garden, which is supposed to be a vegetable garden, my buttercups have a spot where several plants are allowed to grow. All others are dug out and removed.
Surrounded by wild land, the house yards regularly sprout various wildflowers. This year was the year of the bull thistles.
I feel people recoiling in horror.
Thistles are weeds! They have thorns.
There are a number of invasive
thistles such as musk thistle. These are not allowed to grow here. Tall and bull
thistles are native plants.
Even the native thistles can become weeds. One of the things about them is the tremendous number of seeds they produce. The lawn mower keeps the hordes at bay allowing only a few thistles to grow to maturity.
Thistles are a kind of aster. Those
pink flower heads are masses of tube flowers, each a well of nectar. That makes
thistles popular with insects such as bumblebees.
Hummingbirds like thistles too. They
hover near a flower head and sip nectar from each flower before moving to the
next breakfast buffet.
This year we had a couple of impressive bull thistles. Most of the plants fall over and send numerous branches skyward to bloom. Or they send up handfuls of stems each trying to be the main stem, but ending up making a thorny bush.
This year two of the thistles sent
up single stalks that began branching three feet off the ground. One topped off
at five feet. The other was over six feet tall!
As the flowers become seeds,
thistles are still popular. This time the warblers and goldfinches hang off the
flower heads eating the seeds. Many of the fluffy comas drift away minus their
seed burdens. Plenty still have seeds to scatter across the yard.
We had a few years with moth mullein plants occupying the front yard with their short spires of delicate white flowers with purple centers. Then a couple of years hosted regular mullein towering up over their rosettes of huge hairy leaves. This was the year of the bull thistles. What will next year bring?