Every season is one for flower lovers; we just have to look and see. August has its wildflowers that are perhaps less prominent than those of springtime, because the tree foliage masks their presence, but are still there for all to admire. August has the pinkish-purple Joe-Pye-weed, the exotic but stunning bush phlox, and the spiny teasel family. When detected alongside of macadamized roadways summer flowers such as the blue wild chicory are often covered with road dust.
We notice both plenty and scarcity among August flowers. There are still plenty of red-spiked smartweeds as well as red clover blossoms. Few want to champion the ironweed, but it is a favorite for me for its purple clusters stand out in overgrazed pastures. In more moist places we have the touch-me-nots or jewelweed (see October 2, 2020 for curative characteristics mentioned). Our concerned environmental friends ask, “Where are the common milkweeds needed as food for Monarch caterpillars?” We used to see many during the Second World War when the government urged us to gather the silk to replace Japanese silk. I have been growing them in my garden in recent years.
Yellow flowers have their place in this season: the common tansy, the appealing wood sorrel, the many kinds of buttercups, domestic and wild coneflowers, the tame sunflowers and the rage of our region, the coreopsis — here brilliantly visible and soon gone. Let’s add to this the fuzzy and mellow goldenrod, that mainstay flower of this season that decks our countryside; an endangered variety is found in my native Buffalo Trace sub-region.
August flowers can be both subdued and emphatic. The white aster starts blooming this month and Queen-Anne’s lace continues through the summer. The woods can give some striking red and orange surprises in this season: the cardinal-flower or a member of the bluebell family, and the highly appreciated wild-bergamot. Add to these the spectacular orange trumpet-creeper that has escaped from our southlands and moved farther north into the upper tier of states. And then there are the middle summer day (we called them “tiger lilies”) and Turk’s-cap lilies, the flowers of the common folks. Vividness comes not from its white flower of early summer, but the deep red to black pokeweed berry that comes in this season. Yes, August is colorful and about as prolific as April and May.
Note: This litany of flowers is a hint to our web manager to select still more of her wildflowers to grace our pages. Many readers tell us that these flowers bring the text alive, just like wildflowers at all seasons give us hope that our Earth can be healed. We are invited to accept their scent and beauty, gifts of trust that this world can be renewed into a better place.
Prayer: Lord, help us appreciate the wildflowers you give to a troubled world; we need them to hasten our Earth-healing mission.
-Fr. Al Fritsch, SJ