Wildflowers by the Lake
For those of us who enjoy nature walks by the lake, May is the perfect month to indulge in them. When it’s not raining, May weather is perfect for a lakeside hike or a stroll.
It’s spring! The world has that blue-sky, grass-green look to it that’s part and parcel of the burgeoning life and renewal that’s happening all around us. It’s the ideal time to observe the beauty of nature by the lake, particularly the wildflowers, which burst into bloom all across the United States throughout the month of May.
To celebrate this explosion of beauty, in 1998 the American Wildflower Society designated May 5-11 National Wildflower Week. When you think about it, there’s a lot to celebrate when it comes to wildflowers, especially for those of us who live and play near lakes.
Wildflowers by the lake aren’t just pretty. They’re vital to the ecology. Wildflowers help reduce erosion, keeping lake waters clean. They also make an attractive lakeside ground cover that doesn’t require mowing, and they provide food and shelter for native birds, butterflies, bees and other wildlife by the lake. Unlike non-native plants, wildflowers don’t require any nurturing. You don’t have to water them, fertilize them or care for them in any way. They are beautiful survivors.
Although researchers are recording earlier, longer wildflower blooming in the U.S. due to climatic changes, recent cold weather in our area has the flowers a bit behind schedule as far as I can tell. Right now at our local lakes, some of the prettiest early spring flowers are in bloom, including yellow flowering cow lilies, golden club, oxeye and (a favorite of butterflies) golden alexanders.
Jewelweed, another favorite of pollinators, is also in bloom, producing large, orange-yellow blooms. Later, when jewelweed seed pods develop, they will attract birds as well. Cardinal flowers, which are as red as the male Cardinal bird, are also among the wildflowers in bloom here, as is fire pink, which has flowers with a more magenta hue. And of course, the blue flags are blooming now. Like a flotilla of boats for fairies, their slender, iris-like flower stalks rise above the water in the shallows of the lakes.