May Flowers & Other Nice Things Around the Yard

Red Hawthorn --Crateagus iracunda

Red Hawthorn –Crateagus iracunda

So I’ve become interested in learning the names of plants growing wild around me. I “blame” (in the best, most thankful way) this on a local herbalist/organic farmer, Cynthia, at Piper’s Knoll Farm just over the town line in neighboring Newfield, Maine. Cynthia has begun offering monthly foraging and identification walks, and after participating in the first one a week ago, I’ve been compulsively LOOKING.

A simple walk up the road now becomes a wild-things expedition. This week I was drawn to the white flowers on this shrub, and, looking more closely, I was captivated by the dark pink anthers clustered in five pairs of stamen on this red hawthorn. NOT that I knew it was a red hawthorn. I had to go home and look it up. Which is fabulous fun, kinda like a treasure hunt, so thank you, Cynthia!

I don’t even have to walk up the road to explore the wild things and not so wild things around me. So what else is growing around my yard right now?

Two days from Memorial Day, the garden boxes begged me to plant something even though it is risky here in Maine to jump the gun. At the Newfield Farmer’s Market this morning, I couldn’t resist purchasing the first few plants–a lavender perennial to go next to the French tarragon, three varieties of tomatoes (going into the box over the septic tank in hopes the heat will appeal to them), a green bell pepper, and a sage. Except for the lavender, they all went into that same box so I could cover them with a sheet last night. I may be impatient, but I’m not completely out of my mind.


Neighbor Debbie was kind enough to give me a lemon balm from her garden, so I stuck that in the garden box as well, right next to the chocolate mint. That mint will be watched, of course, as we all know how they like to spread and spread.

Now for Mother Nature’s garden beds. These plants live near or beneath the beech trees in front of my house. It’s a forest in miniature!

Wild Strawberries, Fragaria virginiana


Partridge Berry (Squaw Vine) Mitchella repens


Lady’s Slipper, Cypripedium acaule


Fringed Polygala, Polygala paucifolia


Starflower, Trientalis borealis


Canada Mayflower,Maianthemum canadense


False Solomon’s Seal, Maianthemum racemosum


It is so much fun to walk around the property now. I am determined to get myself a plant identification guidebook, though the internet is a great resource, as is Neighbor Debbie who has documented many of the native plants species over the past couple of years.

What do you have growing wild in your yard? When you find a minute to take off the gardening gloves and set down your trowel, drop me a line. Remember, it doesn’t get more local than your own back yard.

11 responses to “May Flowers & Other Nice Things Around the Yard

  1. Lots of those plants remind me of when we used to go to my grandparent’s place on the lake. We used to count the Lady Slippers as we went down the very long dirt road. Aidan has been anxious to get out in her new formed garden as well. We’re also planning an herb garden and already have some basil, rosemary and oregano. Which Aidan has already used in chicken and pizza. I took a container class through the local adult ed program and learned all about thrillers, chillers and spillers! Can’t wait to put that to work- as soon as the rain stops. Thanks for always sharing!

  2. I’ve got the Canada Mayflower running rampant over Lily Hill, and I have that pointy leaf thing we found on the walk with Cynthia, plus several wildflowers that I am not sure I will leave on the hill this year. I have have some bluets that are double the size of the ones in the yard. You will have to come see before they stop blooming.

  3. You’re so lucky to have someone close to identify those wild plants. We’ve got wild strawberries, salal, cotoneaster, Pacific Ninebark, and many more that need ID-ing.
    Just curious, have you planted your Hugulkulture Bed yet? I just stuck some ‘overflow’ squash seedlings in mine…along with nasturtiums, sunflowers, California poppies, wild Borage, and meadowfoam. (I had never heard of meadowfoam, but the bees are supposed to love it.)

    • As I’d digging new “keyhole” permaculture beds near the hugelkulture pile, I’m throwing the green weedy stuff onto the sticks. It is growing bigger. I will finish up hopefully this week and then get a truckload of compost to finish it off. I will check your blog to see photos of all those great things growing on yours. I’m also going to plant good bee plants this year. It’s been cold, even for Maine. Haven’t dared to plant until this weekend, and even then covered up the box.

      • I had to look up “keyhole beds” to see what you are up to. That’s going to be interesting.
        My job this past weekend was to clean up around the hugelkulture bed so I could get some decent photos, but the squash needed to go in, then the PVC drip watering configuring. I’m good at that. It’s like tinker toys. NEXT weekend I’ll get some ‘beginning’ shots.
        I can’t wait to see your “keyhole creations.”

      • I am no good with the irrigation…hopefully enough rainfall here this summer so I don’t have to worry about it. Garden boxes get watered with a hose held by moi. I did stick a hose with a “lawn watering nozzle” in a box yesterday with the water turned on very low. It worked pretty well, spraying three plants at once without any assistance from me.

  4. Great photos of spring coming to life up there in Maine! I have wild leeks (ramps) that I’ve been harvesting lately, and trout lilies abound under my maple trees. thanks for the walk-around!

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