Wildflowers of Turkey

Hillside by the Stream, Ugurtasi Istavri Village Turkey by steelskyblue

TheGardenLady received this question from Janan.

I am planning a spring trip to Turkey to see wildflowers – especially bulbs. Do you know of any good books or other resources that are in English?

How I envy your traveling to Turkey to see the flowers. Turkey is one of the most interesting countries to visit.  Though I never spent time visiting gardens in Turkey, I found the most amazing variety of wild flowers- especially on the Eastern part of the country and around the area called Cappadocia.  “Turkey is home to 9000 species  of flowers, out of which 3,000 are native to its varied geographical landscape.” (see here)

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Nature’s Garden in Ansel Adams Wilderness Area (Photos)

Two readers of TheGardenLady blog are avid hikers who say they are attempting to hike every trail in the Sierras as well as other California trails. Every weekend they try another trail or part of a trail. They love the native flora and fauna they meet or see on these trails as well as the spectacular scenery.

Their most recent hike, on the weekend or August 13, 2011, was in the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area, which is located in the Inyo National Forest (see here) near Mammoth Lakes, California in the Eastern Sierra. Hiking from Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake, where they camped for the night, the trip was an approximately 16 mile loop, taking the River Trail there and returning along the High Trail (aka Pacific Crest Trail).

They sent all the photos that you see on this to share with all the readers.  Enjoy.

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Mojave Desert Wildflowers

Bluebell Wildflowers - In Joshua Tree National Park by MadeIn1953 (on flickr)
Bluebell Wildflowers - In Joshua Tree National Park by MadeIn1953 (on flickr)

In a departure from the man-made gardens that are often the subject of this blog, this past weekend’s adventure was spent exploring the wildflower displays at two unique spots within the Mojave Desert (see here). Covering southern Nevada, western Arizona, southwestern Utah, and southeastern California, this roughly 25,000 square-mile-large swatch of land is home to hundreds of species of plants; many of which produce springtime blossoms of white, yellow, orange, red, lavender, purple, and blue.

Separated by almost 200 miles, the two unique spots included the southernmost and westernmost tips of the Mojave Desert; respectively in Joshua Tree National Park and the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve-both in Southern California. While the blossoms on the two parks’ namesakes-the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) and California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)-were an obvious motive behind picking the locations, numerous other blossoming species also inhabit these regions.


The first stop of the adventure, Joshua Tree National Park (see here), technically spans two deserts: above 3,000 feet and on the west side of the Park is the Mojave Desert, and below on the east side is the Colorado Desert, which is part of the larger Sonoran Desert. On the border, between the two deserts, lies the Lost Palms Oasis Trail; a favorite among hikers eager to see springtime wildflower blossoms. The 7.5 mile hike takes you from the Cottonwood Spring Oasis to the Lost Palms Oasis and back. With the right amount of fall and winter rains, and warm enough springtime temperatures, the typically parched, rocky, and sandy landscape between the two oases is transformed with patches of color.

This early-April weekend, at least 20 different blossoming species were on display along the Lost Palms Oasis Trail. Most prevalent were the yellows of the Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata), Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix californica), and Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa). Moreover, on the way to the trailhead, when driving from the north end of the Park to the south end, a wonderful highlight was the fields full of Desert Dandelion on both sides of Pinto Basin Road.




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Walking and Wildflowers

                                                Photo by Jakob.Enos

This Columbus Day weekend TheGardenLady’s daughter came home and wanted to go for a walk. TheGardenLady has her usual 1/2 mile each way walk that goes along a wooded and wildflower route near a stream. Each time, in every season TheGardenLady walks this route, she discovers different and interesting plants or flowers or  colorations of leaves. TheGardenLady is not someone who walks blindly. Her favorite mantra is to check every blade of grass along the way. And with another pair of eyes walking alongside, TheGardenLady discovers even more.

When TheGardenLady first moved to this area, one May, she found one of  the best stretches for wild strawberries Fragaria virginiana and it was along this route. Because most people who didn’t grow up in a rural area don’t know which foods are edible- even this GardenLady doesn’t know all the edible plants and ALWAYS takes precautions, better to be safe than sorry-  this wild strawberry “patch” was a Mother Lode for TheGardenLady.

For those who have tasted them, wild strawberries are the  most delicious of all the strawberries.  Wild strawberries are one of the fruits TheGardenLady considers ambrosial. But, sad to say, the township mowed this strawberry area down a few years in the running, so that not one wild strawberry plant remains. (Wild strawberry plants do not transplant.)

                                               Photo by weretable

But still there are plants for other animal, bird or insect species to enjoy. Along this walk there is the common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. There is a rather large clump of them – about a dozen or so plants. Hopefully the township mowers will leave this area unmowed to enable the Monarch butterfly catterpillar to feed on the plant. And on this Columbus Day weekend, the Milkweed seedpods were breaking open and the feathery seed carriers were being blown about. This is one plant that gardeners who want to grow native plants should encourage in your gardens. The plant has a globe lilac to pinkish flower from August through Sept. and an unusually shaped seedpod that cracks open in the fall to allow the seeds to blow. These are easy to grow wildflowers that should bloom in the second year. You can buy the seeds out or gather them now as they are blown about.

The Virginia Creeper was brilliant red as it climbed up the tree trunks; it is one of the earliest plants to turn color in the fall. TheGardenLady’s daughter sometimes confuses Virginia Creeper with poison ivy because poison ivy also turns a brilliant red. But remember that Virginia Creeper has 5 leaves but Poison Ivy only has 3 leaves.

And on  this Columbus Day weekend, TheGardenLady’s daughter noticed, among some other plants that TheGardenLady had never in her 30 some odd years of walking this same route, seen. One plant growing there was Ampelopsis brevipendiculata or Porcelain Berry Vine with its lovely pale lilac, purple, blue and green berries. This plant is spread easily by birds and small animals that feed on these colorful berries. Sadly this lovely vine has become a major invasive plant because it spreads so easily and grows so fast that it strangles trees and native wild plants.  Because it has some of the prettiest fall berries it was brought to this country to be cultivated around the 1870s as a bedding and landscape plant and in spite of its aggressiveness in some areas, it is still sold by the horticultural trade. Be wary if you fall in love with this  vine. Check your state’s invasive plant list before you buy it.

This is just a small listing of all the plants one sees while walking or hiking. Discovery has got to be one of the great joys of life.