My daily walks take me past forests, fields and wetlands. During my wandering now, the roadsides abound with plenty of summer wildflowers.
By the time we get to July, grasses are tall, but the varied wildflowers are able to bloom with them quite well. Some flowers from earlier in the season can still be found: daisies, fleabanes, yarrows, clovers, vetches and buttercups. But as we get into the days of mid-July, a whole new batch of summer wildflowers takes over these sites.
During my walks in June, I watched many of these plants growing. Now, triggered by the amount of daylight, warm temperatures and even though it has been dry, enough moisture, these wildflowers have grown and opened for a midsummer bouquet of note.
Here, we see the yellows of black-eyed Susans, yellow sweetclovers, mulleins and evening primrose (flowering at night, but the four-petaled flowers are still open in the early morning).
Purples of Canada thistles, milkweeds and fireweeds add more to the scene that I pass regularly. Looking at these plants, I note their changes each day as well.
Robust cow parsnips and white sweetclovers mix theirs with the other colors. The roadsides and fields are not the only open spaces now available and I field plenty of colors among the waters in the wetlands of lakes, ponds and swamps.
Out in the open waters, the colors of yellow pond-lilies and white water-lilies abound. The yellow pond-lilies with elliptical floating leaves that began to flower in May are still with us. The large white water-lilies with the circular leaves did not begin to blossom until late June. I watch them open each morning. These yellows and whites add to the wetlands, but there is more.
Often, it may be hard to notice, but a smaller floating-leaf flower is here, too. Water shield, with its little oval leaves and tiny flowers, can get missed.
In the shallows are other small flowers sticking up from submerged leaves. The yellow flowers of bladderwort attract insects while the hollow leaves catch insects at the water’s surface to feed on them.
Looking along the shore where the irises and water calla were growing earlier are a couple summer flowers: small blue marsh skullcap and the tall white water hemlock. Soon, Joe pye weed and arrowheads will be growing and blooming here, too. And then as I take a closer look at this space near the water, I see the delightful yellow loosestrife.
With a single spike of five-petaled yellow flowers sticking up above the leafy stem of 1-2 feet tall, it is easy to see why they are also called "swamp candles." They appear to glow a yellow color from this lush water’s edge. This yellow plant is just one of several kinds of loosestrifes we have in the Northland during summer.
In the shaded woods, whorled and fringed loosestrifes open large five-petaled flowers on tall plants. Also in the wetlands is the small clustered flowers of tufted loosestrife. (The purple loosestrife, an unappreciated and unwanted flower of the swamps, is not in this family of native loosestrifes.)
These yellow loosestrifes, whether in the woods or the wetlands, are desired and add much to the days of midsummers. And the candles continue to grow and glow in the swamps.