Wildflowers & Creeks

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Elle's first time in a creek

Believe it or not, this photograph shows Elle experiencing the joys of walking barefoot in a creek for the first time in her life. That sounds a little unreal, doesn’t it? You have to remember, though, that she is Florida-born and bred, with the exception of the last eleven months of her life here in Oklahoma, and little girls from the South, at least mine, just can’t walk around barefoot in creeks and ponds for worry of gators and poisonous watersnakes. There was a single reminder of our Florida days, however, when we came across a mound of miniature seashells. Ah, Oklahoma’s Cretaceous Period?

Oklahoma seashells!

The two of us were attempting to make our walk worth at least a couple of miles but I really underestimated the heat and foolishly left my thermos of ice-cold water in the car. After a short stroll around the creek we crossed an old iron bridge and found ourselves near a field of wildflowers. Elle and I snapped a few photographs while getting eaten up by mosquitos and chased by bees the whole time. All those bug bites were worth it, though, at least to me. I am quite enamored of wildflowers, especially the field of Mexican hats I stumbled upon.

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mexican hats

mexican hats

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Preparing for Spring

Spring is coming! At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. From the looks of things, central Oklahoma has a long way to go before the trees start bursting with green and the flowers bloom vibrant again. I doubt I’ll even be convinced of a warming until I hear my first buzzing bee. Only then will I believe it’s actually happening.

My spring fever is spiking right about now for two reasons:

1)      Daylight Saving Time is right around the corner!

2)      This is the season when the azaleas start to show off in North Florida.

I started thinking about this a few days ago when I saw my hometown of Jacksonville was getting drenched with much needed downpours while Oklahoma was under the threat of a crippling blizzard. Our blizzard never even hit Oklahoma City (phew!) but I hope all that rain in Florida helped push off the drought.

The following photos were taken last year in March at my friend’s house outside of Gainesville, Florida, a few weeks away from where we are right now and after a very mild winter. Their colors only last for a short while, but they are a welcome sight to anyone who has become bored of the standard green of loblolly pines and palms.

After reading that last sentence back to myself, it sounds ridiculous. Who would ever become bored of evergreens and palm trees? It sure beats the dead shit scenery I’ve been looking at here for the past three months – leafless trees, brown leaves covering the ground, snow, melting snow, mud, muddy dog paws in my house. So, in short, azaleas just make what is already pretty prettier.

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It’s your turn now, Oklahoma. I see you have a spectacular wildflower show in the springtime and I’m quite anxious to experience it for myself!

Also, I’m eager to get my hands dirty and dig a native flower garden, to grow my giant sunflowers that will greet me every morning from outside my bedroom window, to find fruits and vegetables at the farmers market (instead of buying all that frozen bagged stuff at the grocery store, which feels like a form of blasphemy in this local food-networked city).

We have an emergency weather radio, a basement, and a tornado siren a few blocks down the road. I’M READY.

Wildflowers

Over the past year or so, I have found myself wanting to learn more about the flowers I see growing out in the wild. Whether in a field, lakeside, on a beach dune, or on the side of the road, I want to know what it is. There is a lot of talk about bringing native plants into our gardens and that is something I want to incorporate when the time comes.

When Matt’s family was visiting last weekend, we all headed over to Half-Price Books where I found Wildflowers and Flora of the Americas. I didn’t buy it that day because we just have so many books as it is, but none about wildflower identification. So I went back and got it. Oh, I’m so happy I did.

It is huge and illustrated and informative and…seriously, I didn’t know there were at least 48 kinds of leaf shapes until I opened this book. I have used it only a few times, but for someone like me who is nowhere near scientifically motivated (give me literature and history books anyday!), I’m kind of looking forward to getting some of these in my garden. It’ll be nice to enjoy them without the whirr of an 18-wheeler screaming beside me because I’m parked on the side of the highway taking photographs.

Indian blanket

Indian Blanket: Oklahoma’s state wildflower. I’m growing these right now in a pot on my porch. It now has five blossoms!

Arcadia Lake

I found this colony of coneflowers at Arcadia Lake.

white poppy

My best guess is a white poppy. I’m reading that poppies don’t typically grow here in Oklahoma unless garden seeds have been scattered with the wind. Which we all know is possible (ahem…Monsanto)

milk thistle

Milk Thistle found at Lake Hefner. Matt had some of these in his yard. I had to pick them because those ones had the big heads of fluffy seeds that I can’t seem to stop myself from blowing into the wind. Note the SHARP STABBY SPIKES, Because I did not.

sunflower at the lake

I also found this gorgeous sunflower at Lake Hefner. There were quite a few tall stalks of these, growing in bunches. Sunflowers just make me happy. I plan to grow lots of these next year.