Usually when people think of this time of year, wildflowers are not the first thing to come to mind. That’s more Spring’s gig, right? I know we just finished our Garden of Stories reading program… but my midwestern heart isn’t quite ready to let go of warmth and green just yet.
In fact, late summer is often the best time for wildflowers! This is because seeds have had the entirety of the season to be planted and spread by machines, birds, people, etc. Everywhere you go, there are tiny bursts of color and joy dotting dingy highways, cracked sidewalks, and trail pathways. During this time, all of the greenery develops that soft golden hue in preparation for fall that is just so inviting!
If all this captures your attention, here are some places you can start your own wildflower expedition:
- If you’re looking online, you can find an excellent map of the local trails in Eau Claire, and even WI as a whole on the All Trails website. If you’d like to go bigger, we also have some park pass kits with great information on finding all things wild in the area.
- Check out our copy of the Wildflowers of Wisconsin Field Guide, or step it up with any similar field guide that can help you expand your search. Our library is full of materials to place you in the right direction, many of which are also available as eBooks as well if you don’t want to worry about lugging around a physical title.
- Stay educated locally with the WI Department of Natural Resources. They have all the answers to any questions you might have about wildlife in your area, and they even host the occasional Wildflower Walk!
Now, a field guide can tell you the technical term for a plant and where it grows… but can it tell you if it symbolizes lost love, pride, or tragedy? Can it tell you what it means to cross paths with a certain color, or breed of wildflower? Floriography, AKA the language of flowers, is the Victorian-era belief that all flowers have a specific symbol or meaning and can be used to communicate in a secret or not-so-secret way. Yes, of course… we have plenty of materials on that too.
As a Wisconsinite, I think our connection to everything that grows naturally here is extra special. This is because, during most of the year, anything that is green, lively, and lovely is concealed by snowfall. So here is your reminder to take some time yet this summer to enjoy the magic that is Midwest botany.