Dry Land Wildflowers in Early Spring

As spring unfolds it won’t be long before our wildflowers will be popping up all over. Apart form the cultivated area of our small farm there are several acres of untouched or “virgin” land, which we cherish. This area is primarily made up of Ponderosa Pine with little undergrowth besides grasses, a few small shrubs and wild flowers. Our farm is situated in a semi arid area, with sandy soil, hot summers and short frosty winters.

Watching the cycles of growth for many years here we now know mother natures pattern and each spring anticipate the arrival of all the different wildflowers that grow here. Many of the flowers growing on our land have been lost to other areas due to the usual urban sprawl, so we feel blessed to be part of their spring showing each year.

Wild Saskatoon Bush / Sensible Gardening and Living
Wild Saskatoon Bush / Sensible Gardening and Living

The first wildflower to sprinkle itself around the shadier and damper areas is the Subalpine Buttercup (Ranunculus eschscholtzil), sometimes also referred to as mountain buttercup. A short little woody based perennial with fibrous roots and bright yellow flowers. I read that they often bloom at the edges os melting snowbanks which is exactly our case, blooming along the lower bank of our very steep driveway.

Shortly after the buttercups we have our wild Saskatoon bushes which put on a tremendous show.  Saskatoonberry, Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) is a tall arching shrub about 5m tall.  It is packed with clusters of showy, white and very fragrant flowers.  Often found in canyons, which is where we are. The berries are purple to black, small and seedy. They are edible but with our hot summers tend to dry out too much before they are ripened. We leave them for the birds.  Blooming for about 2 weeks, the first heavy wind often strips them of their blooms.

Next to bloom is one of my favorites. You have to get own on the ground for this one but it’s well worth the effort. Yellow Bell (Fritillaria pudica) is a real little gem. Very delicate with 6 tepals forming a pendent bell in yellow, fading to red.

Wildflower / Sensible Gardening and Living
Wildflower / Sensible Gardening and Living

A shrub that our bees loves is a bit ratty tatty but produces wonderful red berries later in the season. Wax Currant (Ribes cerum) is a thornless shrub about 2m tall. The flowers are small and tubular being pink or white. The leaves are fanned shaped and serrate. The bright red berries are enjoyed by the birds in the fall.

Probably the showiest of all is Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata). Clumps of these bright yellow sunflower-like flowers completely cover the hillsides of our property. They stand about 60 cm tall, and the leaves are distinctly arrowhead shaped, gray and hairy. These plants literally stop traffic when in bloom.

Balsam Root / Sensible Gardening and Living
Balsam Root / Sensible Gardening and Living

Towards mid spring we will take another tour around the outback and see what’s blooming then.

Wildflower Wednesday with Clay and Limestone / See Blog Roll

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