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Freeing Wildflower Seeds

Turk's cap lilies
Turk's Cap Lilies in full bloom, mid-summer

Appropriately, Turk’s cap lily seeds look like gold coins. Inside each coin is the genetic material to produce their famously large and vibrant flowers. Over the past decade we've managed a rich wild "garden" of native plants. In the spring we collect ramp leaves from our ramps patch, monarchs arrive and lay eggs on the tender milkweed, and we hope the dense growth of mayapples, trillium, and yellowroot will shield the Turk’s cap lily shoots from the hungry deer. Later in the summer, hummingbirds are drawn to cardinal flowers and touch-me-nots, and swallowtails congregate first on Turk’s caps, and then on Joe-Pye and asters.

Orange jewelweed (touch-me-not, wild Impatiens)
Wild Impatiens, i.e. Touch-Me-Nots or Jewelweed

This past fall I collected seeds from some of the more charismatic species in order to offer them to my neighbors. The response has been heartening - and slightly overwhelming. Over 40 people have contacted me for seeds and are sending self-addressed envelopes to receive their ration. Different folks have different yards, so some people are just getting milkweed, while others are getting other seeds that may match their rich or moist soils. I’m just trying to play a small part in the great human effort to reclaim our role as a keystone species that enriches landscapes and promotes biodiversity.

cardinal flowers
Cardinal flowers

Milkweed seedpod
Milkweed seedpod

Turk’s cap lily seeds look like gold coins
Appropriately, Turk’s cap lily seeds look like gold coins.

Turk’s cap lily
It may take a few years, but eventually those gold coins will be 8 feet tall and bear several of these blooms each July.

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