I'm working with the site naturalist to add native plants along the walk so visitors can see the wildflowers in Wildflower Woods up close. There is quite a fall display. Near the spring and the seep is a large stand of rather rare pink turtlehead or Chelone obliqua speciosa. Because these plants require consistent moist soil, the loss in the wild is due to wetland habitat destruction. I'm planning to dig a few starts from the edges and add more along the walk.
Gene had a special fondness for fringed gentians. Judith Long in her biography of Gene Stratton-Porter writes:
"During her plant hunting expeditions, Gene Stratton-Porter was always on the lookout for rarities. She was especially interested in finding a fringed gentian, a dainty violet-blue wildflower that blooms in late summer."
As part of a development-related rescue effort, four fringed gentian plants were donated this fall. They settled in happily next to the turtleheads even though they were in full bloom. I am pleased that they have set seed now.
Next to the fringed gentians and across the boardwalk is a large planting of first year Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), which I started from seed last spring. Next fall, I hope there are large stalks of bright red flowers. I received seven great blue lobelia plants (Lobelia siphilitica) last spring as part of the construction project and planted them next to the Cardinal flower. They bloomed and reseeded this fall.
There were already lots of other fall-blooming wildflowers along the boardwalk, such as Joe-Pye weed, jewel weed, milkweed, small shade goldenrod and asters. Here are some pictures I posted last spring of wildflowers in this area. We will continue to add native plants as we have them available and to remove non-native invasive plants such as lily of the valley and vinca.
Come enjoy the boardwalk. Bring your wildflower and bird guides, binoculars and lunch. Of course, if you want to volunteer in restoring this area of Wildflower Woods, just let me know!