The Theory of Seasonal Wildflowers

Dear Gail,

Thank you for providing us with Wildflower Wednesday on the fourth Wednesday of the month, reminding us to think about wildflowers for our gardens.

While I was out mowing today, I thought about wildflowers and what I might post about them.  I mowed past some Black-eye Susans (Rudbeckia sp.) and considering posting about them.

Black-eyed Susans
Then I saw the big Joe Pye Weed (Euchotrium dubium 'LIttle Joe', formerly Eupatorium dubium 'Little Joe'), standing over four feet tall and covered with bees.
Joe Pye Weed with Boltonia asteroides
I considered posts about Boltonia asteroides, Symphyotrichum novae-anglia, Solidago shortii and even Phlox paniculata. All are big, wonderful wildflowers for the garden. We wait all summer for them and its like a big carnival when they arrive. Color! Bees! Butterflies!

As I continued to mow, I asked myself why we don't have such big colorful wildflowers in the spring. 

In the spring, we marvel in the smallest wildflowers.  The tiny scented blooms of the vernal witch hazel, Hamamelis vernalis. The diminutive Dutchmen's breeches, Dicentra cucullaria, which peek out from the leaf litter in early spring.  The pure white of a Bloodroot bloom, Sanguinaria canadensis.

We would never notice these tiny spring flowers amidst the exuberance of fall flowers, and I think this is by design.  Mother Nature knows best.  

Mother Nature gives us the big, bold, colorful fall blooms to fill us up and give us the energy to endure the cold bloom-less winter.  Then in spring, she gives of the tiny, pastel flowers to slowly bring us out of winter lethargy, as she brings the garden out of its dormancy. 

Mother Nature knows that after all the cold and snow and ice, it would simply be too jarring to walk out to the garden or the woods or fields on the first warm day of spring and be assaulted by masses of bloom. Instead, she starts us off slowly each spring with the eagerly anticipated tiny blooms.

I call this idea of why we have the blooms we have each season The Theory of Seasonal Wildflowers.

Of course, I'm sure many people will point out some big flowers that bloom in early spring, and others will point out tiny blooms of fall.  That's fine. It's a theory, and I've based it on my own experiences, mulled over in an evening of mowing.

I guess what matters about my theory is that I like it.  I enjoy Mother Nature's ways, what she's chosen to have bloom in the the early spring and what she's chosen for early fall. 
I like both seasons, for their own reasons, and I wouldn't change a thing.




  1. Dear Carol, I like it, too. xoxogail

  2. I love this theory, Carol, and believe you have hit upon a profound truth.

  3. I love your theory! It is so much fun finding first blooms pushing out of the earth in the's like finding water in the desert. Like you, I've often thought the riot of color in Fall was meant to hold us over an almost colorless winter landscape....
    You have put it very eloquently!

  4. Carol I agree with your wonderful theory and Nature knows best!!

  5. My garden is blooming now with colorful SPLENDOUR - as Labor Day Weekend approaches in North Eastern, Ma. The days are shortening, the nights grow cooler but my sadness has been turned a full 360 when reading this! I wondered WHY my dahlias, morning glories, peace roses and wildflowers were all going great guns JUST AT THE END OF THE GROWING SEASON! Now I think I understand ... And I will, like all the rest of you flower fanatics, ride out the winter with my indoor beauties ... Lying dormant down in my cellar, patient amaryllis waiting for it's Christmas bloom, and then when in spring I find that first tiny purple crocus that blooms yearly in my Magickal Backyard - heartening in another season of Floral bliss!! Thank you Gail for this insight! I will sleep soundly tonight and inhale the colors of the rest of Summer, 2014. Blessed Be ... diana

  6. Your theory certainly seems sound to me, Carol. I also think that while everything else is fading away for the year--at least in my garden--Mother Nature is putting on one last glorious show, reminding me that it's hard to outdo her.

  7. Yes, and it would be hard to grow really tall really fast after being in the cold earth all winter, so the spring flowers are shorter. The fall flowers have the whole growing season to put on growth.

  8. Yes, I have a similar theory. I think that Mother Nature knows we will soon be bereft of flowers, and in compensation, spreads them everywhere in large size and quantity. Kind of like bribery.


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