Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A lot of Wordiness on Wild Flowers

A few years ago I came across some reproductions of vintage travel posters done for the South Shore Line, a train that still runs along Lake Michigan from Chicago to South Bend, Indiana. Several of them promote a national lakeshore park called Indiana Dunes. Since Nick grew up in South Bend and has fond memories of the dunes, I thought they would fill up that empty space on the kitchen wall. Plus I had this large frame I'd picked up for next to nothing and really needed to find a use for it.

Since there are quite a few different types of posters available and it was hard to decide on just one, so I've collected a few and rotate them with the seasons. Well, to be honest I try to switch them out with the seasons but sometimes like in Camelot, summer often lingers into fall. More precisely in this instance, Spring In the Dunes stays up until October and Happy Halloween usually doesn't exit until Christmas Eve. Negligence aside, it was a surprise when Burt pointed out a Jack-in-the-Pulpit among the trilliums, violets, ferns and marsh marigolds. How did we miss seeing it all this time?

Of course one of the deciding factors in selecting this poster, after it met the initial criteria of being cheap and fitting into the frame, was that all these wild flowers are native to our areas, the upper midwest. So I went out in see if this design could actually exist or if it was just artistic license. Although it seemed pretty unlikely that these particular plants could be found in the wild, growing together in such profusion and blossoming all at the same time. Maybe not completely impossible?

This Jack-in-the-Pulpit came up in my backyard a couple years ago with white trilliums, ferns and wood violets but not the marsh marigolds, which I've never really tried to grow. Since I didn't have a blog and had not made up this silly quest at the time, I failed to include the trilliums and other plants in the photo. Ok, so four out of five. Jack-in-the-Pulpits are elusive flowers, some years half a dozen of those oddly shaped blooms come up and then the next year, by which I mean this year, there's nothing at all. The trilliums did come up this year along with ferns and lots of violets! Since the best place to find wildflowers is in the woods, we trekked up to Mosquito Hill to continue the hunt.

 Lots of trilliums but the Jack-in-the-Pulpits weren't open. I guess what makes wild flowers so special is that they come and go so quickly, by the middle of summer there is rarely any evidence they were ever there at all. They come up, blossom and then poof, they're gone until they return in the spring.   

Moving on, up the hill, on the lookout for wildflowers but mostly encountering mosquitoes. 

Trillium and ferns on the hillside, looking nothing like the poster!

In the middle of May, around the time of my grandmother's birthday, she and I would go walking in the woods on our farm in search of blooming wild flowers. Gram knew the names of all the trees and plants and taught me many useful things, like the Jack-in-the-Pulpits can give you a rash or if you pick the trillium flowers it will kill the plant, and that fiddle head ferns should be sauté in butter before eating, but it's an acquired taste! I would pick a little bouquet of wood violets for her, being careful not to disturb their roots, and she always said it was her favorite birthday gift ever.

Back at the hunt, there are lots of Columbines growing out of the limestone cliffs near the top, but none of the poster flowers. Now that I think about it logically the whole concept is totally impossible, since most of those plants are usually found in shady, drier ground while the others thrive in the moist soil near streams. Oh well, it was fun to see all the other wild flowers along the way, and who knows what special ecosystem might have been present at the Dunes to have inspired the poster's artist.

Temporarily giving up the quest, there was a sea of May Apples on the forest floor on the top of the hill, contradicting the notion that all wildflowers are small, delicate and pastel! Once again there were violets everywhere, some unopened Jack-in-the-Pulpits but no trillium, ferns, or marsh marigolds. 

Ok, not a wild flower but catching a glimpse of a gorgeous Scarlet Tanager is always amazing.

Back on the hunt for wildflowers, these little Hepatica are on the north side of the hill and were closed up because it was too cold, in spite of their fur coats. Others, further towards the top of the hill were fully open taking advantage of the extra warmth. It's not looking good for the poster flowers.

The last chance for finding the five flowers together was the natural home of the Marsh Marigolds around the frog pond, but it was so cold even the frogs weren't out that day. 

The search ended without finding the plants and flowers blooming all together but to be honest it didn't really matter because we had a nice walk in the woods. At last we did come upon some yellow flowers, and yes Burt, they are still Violets even if they're yellow  . . . 

. . . no matter how you choose to look at  it.

Thanks for stopping by!
Have you had a long walk this spring? What did you see?


  1. What a glorious journey! I think that is what the poster artist was trying to portray....the treasures you would find along your journey, rather than one specific view. I have a clump of "Jack -in-the-pulpit" growing at he bottom of my garden under a shady holly bush, though I know this plant as "Cuckoo Pint" or "Lords and Ladies". As for the yellow violets...I have purple primroses...amybe they went to the same gene swapping party lol :D XXX

  2. So glad you liked it and I'm sure you're right about the artist portraying what was blooming at the time. Don't know why I took it so literally, I may be starting to think like my dad did, eeek!
    I've heard of them being called "Lords and Ladies" but not "Cuckoo Pint", how fun. Most of the information I found on them referred to associations with the devil, ha! Guess that's the default history on anything different or interesting. Now that you mention it, my primroses are purple, too!