Friday Flora: Rural Roadside Edition

Yesterday I took a drive down to McMinnville to meet up with Liesel and Sue of Laughing Leaf Elements. So I thought I’d take some “ditch pictures”. Okay most of them aren’t ditches, but there was a lot of pulling off to the side of the road to photograph weeds. Passing motorists probably thought I was off my rocker.

The drive is almost entirely through farm country. Most of the farms have just gotten their hay in. I think recently shorn fields are really beautiful.

I think it’s partly because I love the bleached out, pale gold shade of the fields, and the way it contrasts with the sky.

And I think it’s partly because there’s this feeling of hard work completed, of something accomplished. The fields have a moment to pause and catch their breath. I imagine the farmers feeling relieved to have a big job completed for another year, and bedding and food for the animals ready to get them through the winter.

When I stopped to take this picture, the farmer was pulling out in his pickup. I gestured to my camera and the flowers to see if it was all right, and he nodded. When he got closer, he rolled down his window and told me I could take one if I wanted to. I didn’t–mostly because I didn’t have anything to cut one with–but I got a little warm glow at a gesture of friendliness from a stranger.

Wild blackberries. Blackberries are a prolific weed here. I’m sure most of you know about my affection for weeds. Even though I tend to pull them out of my vegetable beds, I’m fond of feral plants. I admire their tenacity, and the generosity of wild food plants that provide so much for the birds and the bees and the other wild things.

Teasel is one of my favorites. I’m not sure why. I’ve never worked with it medicinally (though I understand it has been found effective in treatment of Lyme Disease, among other things), but I feel a strong pull toward it. Then again, a lot of my favorite plants are prickly and poky, so I guess it’s not a surprise–and teasel heads are beautiful and dramatic when they dry. I like to use them in my Nature Spirit figures.

They’re big, tall, impressive plants, too.

Queen Anne’s Lace is another long time favorite. Even as a child I loved it; I would pick bouquets of it, which my mother would always declare to be “weeds” and wonder why I wanted to bring them in the house.

And I always wondered how anything so beautiful could be considered a weed.

I still do.


9 thoughts on “Friday Flora: Rural Roadside Edition

  1. Thanks for the shout-out and we had a great time yesterday! And Queen Ann’s lace has always held a special place in my heart as well :p

  2. Mmm. Thank you for sharing. Used to go berry picking with my father. Wild blackberries yummy when ripe. I didn’t know about Teasel and Lyme — I share your love of the shape, in spite of it appearing on most invasive weed lists. The woman who first taught me flower arranging always using Queen Anne’s Lace. It’s a great filler. This morning I’ve been learning about the Douglas Fir forests in Scotland. Seeds were collecting in the Western US (by David Douglas, a Scotsman). They used to disperse the seeds into the hills with a cannon! Sorry to ramble.

  3. I love coming here for your Friday Flora. I probably already told you that. Anyway, the pictures are lovely! And I’m learning the names of the flowers (As you know, I’m a complete ignoramus when it comes to Botany. It boggles the mind that I got an A in my Botany class during college. I must have tricked the professor somehow…:D )

  4. I am from North Alabama, and your pictures look quite familiar. My Mom and stepfather have a dairy farm 15 minutes from the Tennesse line. I really appreciate your rustic and nature inspired posts, they are grounded or at least project that aura very well.

  5. It is said here in Australia that a weed is just a plant in the wrong place. When that means the wrong place in a truly ecological sense, I understand the need to remove them, but I still so often find the beautiful anyway. What do you think of the idea that human beings are beautiful weeds? We are defnitely in so many of the wrong places, ecologically, and as “ferals”, we present a serious threat to the species and ecosystems we displace…. but can still be beautiful, and there is still a tenderness in my heart for the species, as individuals and even, at times, en masse.

  6. Your “weeds” are surprisingly similar to ours in Scotland! I had to double check that you weren’t actually in the UK, rather than the North West USA as I had thought!

  7. Michelle,

    Like you, I’ve wondered when a weed becomes a flower or when a flower–full of beauty, life and purpose–is nothing more than a weed. Kinda like writers, eh?

    Anyway, if I could, I’d plant my yard in natural “weeds” and gaze upon the pure wonder of their changing colors, textures and scents. Alas, however, my DH insists we have plain old grass, so I have to settle for the beauty of ditches filled with a vast array of weeds!

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