It has a lot of names–creeping charlie, ground ivy, gill-over-the-ground. It’s a weed. But its tiny, delicate, detailed flowers are potent enough to turn acres of fields purple soon after the last hard freeze of the year. When Creeping Charlie is fighting the dandelions for space in my backyard, I know it is spring.
Known as both Pioneer Cemetery and Baldwin City Cemetery, this Douglas County burial ground’s first interment was in 1858 on land not far from a then-still-active Santa Fe Trail. The sign at the entrance highlights the native wildflowers on the grounds. It is poignant that many of the markers bear flowers, too.
Many storms have rolled across Kansas this past week, causing flooding in Emporia, Hutchinson, and Wichita. Here in Ottawa, the weather has been more kind, but the ground is saturated and water drips from leaves and flowers during the short breaks in the clouds.
When we first moved into our 112-year-old house, we thought we had a dead shrub by the front porch. Imagine our surprise when it not only leafed out, but also began blooming the most gorgeous fuchsia flowers. This young crepe myrtle is heavy with blooms and even heavier with water and too beautiful not to photograph.
Our neighbors have the biggest Rose of Sharon shrubs we’ve ever seen, and our rainy summer has encouraged an explosion of the white, pink, and lavender hibiscus blossoms. Honey bees have been weighing themselves down with the flowers’ pollen ever since the first blossoms opened.
For me, one of the most fascinating things about moving into a new home is watching what pops up in the yard once the growing season begins. Our house, a modest folk Victorian, has been standing for 112 years, which means people have been digging and planting in our yard for more than a century.
Despite the possibility of snow this week (snow! in April!), all of the plants–grass, weeds, flowers–are poking their heads through the soil. I noticed today that patches of speedwell are enjoying the damp ground right now, their tiny blue striped petals tilting toward the sky.
This past week, Kansas proudly exhibited all four seasons in just seven days. On Monday, it was 70 degrees. On Tuesday, we had a thunderstorm. On Wednesday morning, we had snow and ice. On Thursday, we woke up to wind chills in the -10 degrees F range. And now we’re back up into the 40s.
As you can imagine, this confuses the plant life. These poor little ground ivy plants were temporarily on ice by midweek. You can almost see them shivering.
The street corners of Ottawa’s historic downtown are planted with flowers bursting with color. Because of the hot, dry summer, the flowers are getting in one last big hurrah before the first frost of autumn.