Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pink Saturday - flowers for the heat

 Pink Saturday - Beverly at the blog "How Sweet the Sound" hosts Pink Saturday. Let the color pink inspire you!

I admit it, I'm a weather wimp. Although I grew up in the steamy Midwest, I've been spoiled, living more than 18 years in Seattle, where it's temperate and pleasantly moist, and in Los Angeles, where it's temperate and dry - and when it's hot, it's a dry heat.

Here in Northern Illinois, we're re-encountering that feeling when you walk outside an airconditioned space and hit a wall of hot pea-soup heat.

July has brought 100+ degree temperatures and thunderstorms to this part of the country. The moisture in the air, though, keeps the plants hydrated and keeps the landscape green. Heat-loving flowers are thriving - like these bright pink zinnia, growing in flower beds at Geneva's Island Park.

Other great flowers for heat are these Echinacea purpurea - also called purple coneflower. These tough sun-lovers are easy and showy wildflowers to grace your hot-weather garden.

Here they are growing almost wild, along with that pretty Midwestern weed, Queen Anne's Lace, by the water's edge along the Fox River.

In my morning walks along the Fox River Trail, I found other wildflowers I remembered from my childhood here, like the Black-eyed Susan, or Rubeckia hirta.

Also the common chicory, Cichorum intybus. The roots of this roadside weed was baked, ground and used as a substitute or additive to coffee, especially during hard times, like the Civil War. Chicory coffee is now a preferred taste in some cities like New Orleans.

I see this bristly plant growing in swampy areas and along roadside drainage ditches here in Northern Illinois. This is the teasel, or Dipsacus laciniatus, It's an invasive weed native to Europe, but I remember from childhood that we prized it for its weird, interesting look when dried - great for flower arrangements.

Another plant I've encountered on my walks is Phytolacca americana. These pretty white, arching flowers soon mature to racemes of button-like berries on a pink stem - first green and then turning to a deep black-purple. The juice of the ripe berries were used in pioneer days as ink or dye; but early settlers also used the berries of this shrub as folk remedies to treat arthritis and other bodily pains, and sometimes teas or salads were made of the leaves.

Like many folk medicines, Phytolacca is highly toxic when used without skill or knowledge. Its common name is pokeberry or pokeweed, and its place in folklore has been memorialized by the 1960's pop tune "Poke Salad Annie."

These wild Midwestern woods are full of interesting flowers and plants. It's a fun place to explore on a hot Pink Saturday!


Pat said...

Geneva's Island Park looks like a great place to visit and forget the heat - or at least try to forget it! Happy PS.

Life with Kaishon said...

I knew right away you weren't in California. Those are some of the same flowers we have everywhere! LOVE black eyed susans. They remind me of my Grandma.

Karen S. said...

Your photos are always something to or not! have a great weekend!

Gilly said...

Think I'll wait to visit until its not so hot! Would definitely kill me.

But those Zinnias are wonderful, far better than the ones we sometimes manage to grow here!

Anonymous said...

I love your pictures! I have been waiting for a picture of the Century plant bloom. Did I somehow miss it??
Hope you are having a nice time on your trip.