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Wild Flowers for your Garden

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					Using Wild Flowers in Your Landscape

Jewel-weed; Spotted Touch-me-not; Silver Cap; Wild Balsam; Lady's
Eardrops; Snap Weed; Wild Lady's Slipper are all common names for
Impatiens biflora (I. fulva). The wild plants produce orange yellow
flowers spotted with reddish brown. The flowers are irregular in shape
and grow to about one inch long or less. The plant grows from two to five
feet tall and has smooth, colorful branches. The leaves are thin,
coarsely toothed, and pale on the underside.

This plant produces an oblong capsule seed pod that expels the seeds when
ripe. It likes to grow beside streams, ponds, and in ditches - in other
words: moist ground. It flowers from July to October and likes climates
similar to Oregon, south to Missouri and Florida.

These exquisite, bright flowers, hanging at a horizontal, like jewels
from a lady's ear, may be responsible for the plant's folk-name; but
whoever is abroad early on a dewy morning, or after a shower, and finds
notched edges of the drooping leaves hung with scintillating gems,
dancing, sparkling in the sunshine, sees still another reason for naming
this the Jewel-weed. In a brook, pond, spring, or wayside trough, which
can never be far from its haunts, dip a spray of the plant to transform
the leaves into glistening silver. They shed water much as the
nasturtiums do.

When the tiny ruby-throated humming bird flashes northward out of the
tropics to spend the summer, where can he hope to find nectar so deeply
secreted that not even the long-tongued bumblebee may rob him of it all?
Beyond the bird's bill his tongue can be run out and around curves no
other creature can reach. Now the early-blooming columbine, its slender
cornucopias brimming with sweets, welcomes the messenger whose needle-
like bill will carry pollen from flower to flower; presently the coral
honeysuckle and the scarlet painted-cup attract him by wearing his
favorite color; next the jewel-weed hangs horns of plenty to lure his
eye; and the trumpet vine and cardinal flower continue to feed him
successively in Nature's garden; albeit cannas, nasturtiums, salvia,
gladioli, and such deep, irregular showy flowers in cultivated flower
beds sometimes lure him away.

Familiar as we may be with the nervous little seed-pods of the touch-me-
not, which children ever love to pop and see the seeds fly, they can
still startle you with the suddenness of their volley. Touch the delicate
hair-trigger at the end of a capsule, and the lightning response of the
flying seeds makes you jump. The seeds sometimes land four feet away.

The Pale Touch-me-not (I. aurea) I. pallida of Gray - most abundant
northward, is a larger, stouter species found in similar situations, but
with paler yellow flowers only sparingly dotted if at all. It shares its
sister's common names.


New Jersey Tea; Wild Snowball; Red-root (Ceanothus americanus). This
plant produces small white on white pedicels crowded in dense, oblong,
terminal clusters. It's a shrubby plant that grows one to three feet tall
and has a deep, reddish root. The leaves are oblong and have a fine saw-
tooth edge.

This wild flower likes to grow in dry open woods and thickets. It flowers
from May to July and accepts climates from Ontario south and west to the
Gulf of Mexico.

Light, feathery clusters of white little flowers crowded on the twigs of
this low shrub interested thrifty colonial housewives of Revolutionary
days not at all; the tender, young, rusty, downy leaves were what they
sought to dry as a substitute for imported tea. Doubtless the thought
that they were thereby evading George the Third's tax and brewing
patriotism in every kettleful added a sweetness to the home-made beverage
that sugar itself could not impart. The American troops were glad enough
to use New Jersey Tea throughout the war. A nankeen or cinnamon-colored
dye is made from the reddish root.

				
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