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It’s in your nature: Summer flowers

Homeowners know when their favorite flowers and shrubs bloom. Tulips, daffodils and crocus are spring bloomers. In fact, many folks look forward to the first crocus blooms sometimes poking up through the last remaining snow in their flower beds. These blooms only brighten up the flower bed for a few short weeks. Planting zinnias or marigolds add color later in summer.

In nature, we are fortunate to have so many varieties of wildflowers that bloom at different times. My spring birding outings allow me to find trout lilies blooming before the fern’s dense mats cover them. The spring rural roadsides are lined with coltsfoot and a few weeks later the lankier Dame’s rocket brighten the scenery. These pastel flowers “last” about three to four weeks.

But summer brings another batch of color. The bright blossoms of orange day lilies are now found almost everywhere that you travel. They spread through their underground rhizomes and sometimes form big patches. Another yellow flower, smaller and growing closer to the ground, is the tick trefoil. They should be quite obvious to you when you walk along the D & L trail or your favorite route. Self-heal is a small purplish flower now blooming, even in your lawns.Who isn’t impressed in June when the mountain laurel (state flower) brings such brilliance to the forests in the Times News mountainous areas?

Ox-eyed daisies are now stealing the show. Last summer I found a field (about 2 acres in size) that held so many daisies that the field looked like it was snow covered. I drove past that Penn Forest field this week and found that the farmer cultivated the field. I was disappointed a bit, but we do have to eat. A meadow that I mow has patches of these daisies and I just can’t bring myself to mow them down. If there was a drone photographing that field it would appear that the tractor driver may have had a few too many brews.

By mid to late July they are mostly finished blooming and then they get cut. Other yellow flowers to look for in July are St. John’s wort and celandine. To verify celandine’s identification, break a stem to reveal its characteristic vivid orange sap.

Not as showy, and sometimes a pest, look for milkweed beginning to bloom from mid to late June. The flowers attract many bees, butterflies and other insects. The plant itself is home to a host of insects that benefit by ingesting the toxins from the milkweed making them less palatable. Bull, nodding, and Canada thistle add their purple colors to summer’s show and over 200 insect species are attracted to their pollen and nectar. (However, all three are on Pennsylvania’s invasive species list.) No matter what flowers you enjoy, look for the dozens and dozens of summer “bloomers” now. Enjoy.

Test Your Outdoor Knowledge: White flowers rely heavily on _____ to pollinate them. A. moths, B. honeybees, C. rain, D. wind.

Last Week’s Trivia Answer: It may surprise you that the beaches on the big island of Hawaii have such a large concentration of microplastics. The currents in the Pacific swirl and the floating plastics continue to break down into smaller and smaller pieces eventually accumulating on beaches. Our local beaches also have microplastic pieces but not in the same quantities.

Contact Barry Reed at breed71@gmail.com.

Butter and eggs, a member of the snapdragon family, grow best where they get little competition from thick meadow grasses.
Orange day lilies dominate many field edges and roadsides from mid June to July. BARRY REED/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
A bumblebee feasts on nectar from milkweed flowers which began blooming in the past week.
Celandine flowers, about 3/4 inch across, brighten forest clearings and field edges. Break off a stem to see its bright orange sap.
Deptford pink, small but beautiful flowers, will begin blooming in some damp meadows shortly.
Thistles add their purple color to the summer fields. They include Canada, bull and this nodding thistle. Their prickly stems are not inviting though.
Blooming as this column goes to press are yarrows. The white flower heads sit atop featherlike stems.