THE WILD FLOWERS OF SUNSET HILLS
by Rebecca Gilliam
Sunset Hills has many Wildflowers. The reason for this is because we are in our wonderful state of Missouri. And this is due to the fact, we are told, that Missouri has many "wildings"' and maybe more, than any other state in the United States.
There are two main reasons for this. First, we go back to the Ice Age. When the big Glaciers came down to this part of the country, they stopped at the Southern Alleghenies and at our Mississippi Ozarks so these places were not disturbed or "plowed up". And the second reason for our abundance of Wildflowers is due to the fact we are on the greatest Fly-a-way in the country and that is our Mississippi River. That of course brings more birds to our area and birds and Wildflowers seem to go together because the birds drop seeds and they also destroy so many obnoxious insects that would in turn destroy many of our Wildings.
Spring brings us a secession of Wildflowers that is unequaled at any other time of the year. These early Spring Wildflowers are found mostly in the shady places and along the blue, the lavender, the purple, and then there are also yellow and white ones. And we will also find at this time the Purple Trillium, commonly called Wake-Robin, growing nearby. The Claytonia, or Spring Beauty, is also always a welcome sign of Spring. It will grow in either sun or shade, in fact, it sometimes will "take over" in our lawns.
Another interesting Wilding we will find now into shady places is the Dutchman's Breeches. These little plants are well named as the small white blossoms really look like a pair of Dutchmen's breeches hanging upside down. Two other Spring-blooming flowers are the blue and pink Phlox or Wild Sweet William. The blue one will be found more in the shady places while the pink one seems to prefer the sunshine. In late spring we will see the colorful Indian Paintbrush, with its red blossoms, along the highways and also in the shaded woodlands.
As the season progresses we will find the several different kinds of Roses in bloom that are native in this part of the state. And June wouldn't be June without our White Daisies growing along the highways and byways and in the sunny pastures. In company with them we will also see the several kinds of Milkweeds in bloom now. One of them is called the Butterfly Milkweed and is the most attractive of them all, with its flat -topped cluster of brilliant orange blossoms. This one is especially attractive to the Butterflies and there are generally Butterflies flying around them, which is the reason for the name. A most beautiful combination in Nature's plan that we will find now growing along our highways and byways is the Queen Anne's Lace, with its large, flat umbels of lacy white flowers and delicate green foliage, and the three foot stiff branching plants of the blue Chicory with its slender green leaves and bright blue-rayed blossoms. They are so often found growing together.
In August the Wildflowers of Spring and early Summer change to the more rugged flowers of Mid-summer and Fall and grow in the sunny places wherever they can get foothold. These are the many kinds of Sunflowers and the Black-eyed Susans, growing along with the Liatris or Blazing Star, with its magenta spiked flower heads. There will also be the colorful Joe-Pye Weed with its purple compound panicle flower heads, and the Ironweed with its terminal flat-topped clustered flowers that are rose-purple in color. These wilding flowers all grow to a height of three to four feet. And then there will be the low growing blue Mist-Flower that resembles our garden Ageratum. This one will be found in the more shady places.
While many of these late Summer Wildflowers carry over into Fall, Fall has its own blossoms that give us a display of color and beauty that is unsurpassed at any other time of the year, with the many different kinds of Golden Rod and Aster. These will all bloom until frost. I like the folksy name that has been given to the Asters. They are also called Fare-well to Summer, and they are indeed a farewell to our Summer time.
Of course, these are just a few of the many beautiful and attractive native flowers that have been given to us to enjoy here in Missouri and Sunset Hills.
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