Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Wildflower Wednesday: Streetside Delights?

One of the surprises of my trip to Seattle was how familiar many of the wildflowers were to me as well as lots of the plants we saw in the gardens we visited. Foxgloves were in abundance and at last I discovered what exactly fireweed is as often mentioned on American blogs. Here we know it as Rosebay willowherb aka Epilobium angustifolium.

One plant which had me puzzled was a swathe of pink often seen at the side of the road as we swept by in our bus. Bright Barbie pink and rampant, it mocked me from the side of the road. Victoria had an idea of what it was, but it wasn't until we reached her namesake city on Vancouver Island that I managed to at last get up close and personal and confirm her diagnosis:

It's the perennial sweet pea, Lathyrus latifolius, a native of Europe and sadly not perfumed like its more familiar annual cousin Lathyrus odorata. Most of the time I saw the bright pink form, but here you can see the duskier and white variations I also found adorning the sea cliffs towards Oak Bay. I wonder if the other wild flowers I've highlighted today are also European introductions and if seeing them is as controversial as say Himalayan balsam or Japanese knotweed are over here. I wonder if my American friends didn't see these flowers as streetside delights like I did?

Once again it's a pleasure to participate in Gail's Wildflower Wednesday meme, do head over to her blog to see what else is on view for today :)

9 comments:

  1. I love seeing wild flowers on the side of the road... there was a beautiful display near my house, will have to go check if its still there and take a snap!

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  2. Sweet peas are indeed sweet! Love this rather orderly grouping. :)

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  3. Usually, most people like seeing things flower and are oblivious to the fact that those things might be invasive. Of course, there's the small minority who is horrified at ice plant and pampas grass in California and might not like sweat pea in Seattle, but even I prefer some plants to nothing inside the cities.

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  4. Scent or not, it has beautiful blossoms. So much fun seeing what's blooming around the continent. Very little pink here, it's all yellow, purple and cream.

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  5. Like Town Mouse, I think most people appreciate flowers of any sort and most probably wouldn't know if something was invasive or not. Those who know what Japanese Knotweed is are likely in the minority.

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  6. Since I garden on a Victoria sea cliff, here's the view from the other side....

    The foxglove is another garden escapee of European origin, but is not sworn at too vigourously around here, as it is both lovely and fairly easy to squelch if it gets uppity.

    The unsweetened peas, though beautiful, have rather more imperialist propensities. For more, see Seattle gardener Paghat's comments at http://www.paghat.com/sweetpeas.html.

    I believe that fireweed is native around the northern hemisphere. The local name refers to its habit of being one of the first plants to reappear after a forest fire, and it certainly looks dramatic blooming against a field of charcoal.

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  7. i doodle garden - taking part in this meme has strengthened my resolve to feature some of our wildflowers too :)

    Monica - it's a lucky shot if you think them orderly as they were all over the cliff!

    Town Mouse and Margurite - you're right, to most people a flower is just a flower and pretty. They don't necessarily know what's in the right place and what might be invasive and surpressing even more flowers or a greater variety of them.

    Barbarapc - quite a few of our flowers have been tricked into reblooming this autumn owing to our indifferent August/September and now some very unseasonally warm weather. It'll be interesting to see exactly what colour scheme we end up with over the next week or so!

    Brotchie - thanks for the link that's a very interesting article. The perspective and information you've given in your comment was exactly what I was looking for when I wrote this piece.

    I have very clear childhood memories of fireweed as you call it. In Birmingham during the 1960s it was to be found everywhere (and in massive numbers)on WWII bombsites which had yet to be redeveloped. I suspect fire was a key factor in their appearance over here as well.

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  8. I think it's all in your perspective whether you see a plant as a weed or a wildflower. I love seeing all the blooms and grasses along the roadsides, but not everyone agrees. I'd love to plant some milkweed here for the butterflies, but most farmers would be horrified that anyone would purposely plant it:)

    Love the sweetpeas!

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  9. Rose - I loved them too. It's interesting how there's so many different perspectives on what appears at the side of our roads.

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