Having fields of wildflowers is an exercise in appreciating surprises vs demanding consistency. Each year, different things come up in different proportions. The first year we were happily inundated with Brown-eyed Susans. In each new season, the mixture has changed depending on the weather conditions, how much the soil is disturbed, and probably how deep the roots have gone.
We rearranged some of the paths through the field from previous locations and as the old paths begin to grow over, the first new occupant is clumps of tiny Asters. They make an interesting white trail that hints at where the path used to be, like a secret stream winding down a hill.
I assume that as the season progresses, some of the other species will begin to mix in and gradually the aster path will fade away.
I have played God and decided that the one species that will not be welcome in my field is the giant ragweed. They come up in scattered neighborhoods and their large spikey leaves are easy to spot as their heads begin to emerge above everyone else. That’s when I step in and begin yanking them out. It is an easy job and I feel like a good field manager when I have finished. I don’t know why they come up in the groups as they do, but I did read that their flowers cause them to spread if you let them get that far. They get to be up to 12 feet high at maturity with stems one to two inches in diameter. I am not going to allow a ragweed jungle this year.
Last but not least, I have discovered an Elderberry bush down by the woods this year! I don’t know where it came from but I am happy to have it. Maybe this fall I will have enough to make an elderberry pie, an old family favorite – if you can pardon the gazillion little seeds in your teeth. It is growing alongside our wild raspberries.