|A rare mountain beauty, the Pink Lady Slipper.|
In the 1849 book A Tale of Manchester Life, author Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell observed that a watched pot never boils.
Apparently the same theory holds true for plants we yearn to see flower: A watched rose never blooms.
My roses have been teasing me for the past two weeks, displaying a bit more color every day. But thanks to an unexpected cold snap, the buds have now decided to stay tight indefinitely.
So I turned my attention to the woods.
Since this is our first spring in the mountains, I wondered if there might be an interesting wildflower or two lurking just beyond the garden path. And the answer was Yeah buddy!
Orchids in the wild
Spotting one Pink Lady’s Slipper on the property was a treat, but I actually discovered four!
Like some other members of the orchid family, these Lady Slippers (also known as Moccasin flowers) will only grow when certain fungi are present in the roots. Obviously whatever it is, we have the right stuff.
Sadly wildflower experts report these exquisite plants are becoming more rare each year. Despite warnings, people continue to pick the flowers or dig up the plants, in which case the orchid is almost certainly doomed. I will be watching my quartet very closely.
Doesn’t pass the sniff test
|Look, but don't take a whiff.|
Trilliums are members of the Lily family and are among the showiest of springtime wildflowers. The local natives sport three distinctive leaves and when they bloom, the flowers have three petals.
American Indians used the plant as an eye medication and women boiled the roots to make a love potion. Mountain folk say if you pick a trillium you will bring on a rainstorm.
Although I’ve seen a number of white and pink trilliums growing nearby, my favorite is the burgundy Wake Robin. Apparently that is the “nice” name because it’s also known as Stinking Benjamin or Stinking Willie because of the putrid smelling flower. Early herbalists used it to treat gangrene.
I’ll take an expert’s word for the aroma and just admire it from afar.
The bee’s knees
|Blue-eyed grass is actually an iris.|
Entomologists studying bees have learned they can see four colors – yellow, blue, bluish green and violet. (If I ever meet an entomologist I’ll be sure to ask how they accomplished this feat.)
Sporting flowers of both blue and yellow, Blue-eyed Grass is not only a bee magnet, but a favorite of wild pigs.
This charming little plant isn’t a grass at all but the smallest member of the Iris family. And even though the flowers last only a day, established clumps put out blooms for several weeks.
Back to the roses.
As if trilliums, Lady Slippers and blue–eyed beauties weren’t enough, I’ve spied three native Flame Azaleas on my one-acre patch. The neon orange flowers can stop traffic.
But I digress. The subject was roses, was it not?
However now with all these regal jewels at my feet, waiting for the Queen of Flowers is no longer a hand-wringing, drawn-out ordeal.
It's an adventure.