Walking on the Wild Side: Wildflowers in the Parks

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”
Lady Bird Johnson

Have you noticed the parks’ coltsfoot, twinleaf, and Dutchman’s breeches looking especially radiant this week? Don’t think that it’s just the rain that we’ve been enjoying lately. They’re looking extra fine because it’s National Wildflower Week!

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Violets doing what they do best.

Our region’s natural landscape is quite unique, you know. Down to the smallest Heartleaf foamflowers, we’re able to enjoy everything that grows here thanks to our region’s particular climate (hypothermic winter temperatures included).

Right this very moment, spring ephemerals (plants that bloom only for a short time, usually when they have the advantage of full light before tree leaves start to open) are in their full glory. And out to appreciate this tiny rainbow of colors this week were community members at the annual Urban EcoSteward Wildflower Walk in Frick Park.

Couldn’t make it? Read on for the highlights and join us for another wildflower show this month!

Wild walks

What do you notice as you walk through the parks? The trees? The pathway? The thousands of little blooms now peppered between the trees?

Just a stone’s throw from the water fountain on the trails by the old Frick Environmental Center, we were amazed to find a dozen or more different flower varieties — some of them completely hidden by overhanging leaves — right in front of us. The 40 or so adults and children split up into three groups with Parks Conservancy naturalist educators and Urban EcoSteward walk leaders. Together, they all played a huge game of “Where’s Waldo?”, spotting the colorful wildflowers along and between the path.

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Christmas ferns starting to unfurl.

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Bluebells just starting to flare out, a bit past their prime.

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Kids and adults walking the trails to find wildflowers.

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Two kids with Naturalist Educator Mike spot some squaw root aka bear corn.

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Squawroot, otherwise known as bear corn.

Digging in

After becoming experts on bellwort, woodland phlox, and trillium, everyone grabbed some gloves and shovels and went to work. In anticipation of the brand new Frick Environmental Center, wildflowers and trees in the vicinity of the new building have been flagged. These flags aren’t marking what will be removed — they’re marking what will be preserved.

Everyone — kids and adults alike — helped to move marked wildflowers from the building areas to a safe spot further up the trail. Families and neighbors worked together to carry burlap bags with the flowers on top to safe ground before being watered.

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Bellwort, bluebells, and an orange preservation marker.

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Working together to replant some bluebells.

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Moving some wildflowers to their new home.

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Nobody works alone!

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Watering the newly planted wildflowers.

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Happily replanted Heartland foamflowers.

New to wildflower spotting? You can pick up a very helpful Newcomb or Audubon guide from your local library! These handy books are broken up into flower shapes, sizes, and colors, making identification easy.

While a good number of plants were relocated at the Wildflower Walk, we need help moving the rest of the bunch before Frick Environmental Center construction gets underway. Register here to volunteer to replant wildflowers this month with us!

Programming like the annual Wildflower Walk is free and open to the public. And did we mention… fun!? Don’t miss our next outing, the Urban EcoSteward Summer Gathering. Click here to sign up.

 

Lauryn Stalter for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

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