Why is a weed when you see it in an empty lot or in a ditch and a protected specimen when you see it in a nature preserve? I love parks and preserves because they celebrate plants that some gardeners (and all neighborhood associations) scorn. Yesterday, we visited the Reinsten Woods Nature Preserve, an amazing spot of wilderness in the middle of a Buffalo suburb. It has a large pond (the pink lotus display just drawing to a close) oft visited by herons and other waterfowl, enough trees to justify its name, and a ton of wildflowers. It also has a new visitors’ center that is not only green/LEED-certified but attractive in a rustic, FLWright-inspired kind of way. Just the place where you’d like your camera battery to give out. Images will have to wait for another time.
The visit inspired me to visit my private Allentown nature preserve (a protected alleyway habitat) and choose a few rare blooms for the arrangement you see above. Here is mature pokeweed (phytolacca americana), snakeroot (eupatorium ragosum) and daisy fleabane (erigeron annuus). These and many other wildflowers and wild grasses can be seen in profusion in every uncultivated spot in WNY; sometimes I can barely keep my eyes on the road as I admire these plants during my morning commute.
Fall is the time for wildflowers here; our springs are too brief and too prone to the remnants of violent weather. Who needs mums? Bring on the weeds!
My knowledge of wildflowers is minimal, but I’ve been reading about them, and the Audubon eastern region field guide is useful. I’d also thank a local expert, nature writer Gerry Rising, whose columns for the Buffalo News are archived here.