The Beauty Of Wild Flowers
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour !
We see these beauties growing in abundance by the roadside ,on the mountain slopes, in the meadows and in hilly resorts without anyone caring or looking after them. You marvel at the color and beauty of these flowers that grow wild all over the world. There are enough archaeological evidence to show that some of these plants existed almost 17,000 years ago. This was proven by the plant findings in Iraq , South America and the delta of River Nile , River Indus and in the Australian Plateau! Most of the species have survived and thrived after al those years which goes to show how hardy they are !
So what exactly defines a wild flower? According to Botanists , wild flowers can generally be defined as those flowering plants that grow in the wild or grow on their own, without cultivation by human hands . By a broad estimate it has been said that there are over 40,000 varieties of wild flowers belonging to more than 500 families and amazingly more than 20% of wildflowers are in the Sunflower family and a large number of these varieties come from two continents -Asia and South America. This is probably because of the humid and tropical weather that is favorable for their growth.
Wild flowers are distinctive
The most distinctive feature of all wild flowers is that they are very hardy and very fertile, which help them survive in the most adverse conditions and multiply vigorously. They face some of the most adverse conditions in the rocky mountains and deserts but have become acclamatised to the atmosphere and grow there in abundance. At the same time , if one were to cultivate them at home , they may not grow as easily as they do in the wilderness on their own and it is also not possible to recreate the same conditions at home.
Most Wild flowers have very little fragrance and dry up easily except some cactus blooms which last for a longer period of time. However, most well known varieties of wild flowers do not last long, hardly a few hours after they bloom. So, scientists have come up with many new specimens by cross breeding wild flowers with others that last longer like primroses, poppies, violets , roses etc;
Introducing Wild flowers in city parks and home gardens
Most parks and Gardens tend to have carefully cultivated bushes and trees that blend in and the plant species are carefully selected depending on their color and other features. However, people were always fascinated by the wild flowers and it was but natural that they were introduced into parks and other gardens .
The introduction of these wild flowers into cultivated garden began in England in the early 19th century , when the well traveled and well read Gentlemen longed to be different while planning their home gardens. People began to be fascinated by these exotic plants and became more interested in introducing some of them side by side with the other ornamental flowering plants . There was also a leaning towards a 'Natural' looking garden in the 19th century which was the perfect setting for wild flowers.
According to reports Gertrude Jekyll, a famous English garden writer of that time, began cultivating wild flowers in her woodland . She was determined to succeed and did all she could to provide the right atmosphere for the wild plants . She began by encouraging wildflowers she found in her garden to grow by providing the right care or by planting them in a naturalized manner. She was successful in her venture and this became a rage at the time and more and more upper class households began growing what they called the 'Natural' garden.
Today we get to see wild flowers growing side by side with other carefully cultivated ornamental flowers in most parks and gardens. However , it was a continuation of those early innovations by English Gardening enthusiasts who recognized the flowers of the wild as , perhaps the most wonderful and beautiful of them all.
Some salient features
1, Although most wild flowers are native to the region in which they grow in abundance, some of them are the descendants of flowering plants introduced from other lands through natural means of propagation . Such plants over a period of time take on certain local features, like difference in size, color or texture and look different depending on the weather and other geographical features of that place.
2, Like in other cultivated plants , among wild flowers we see many different types . Some are known as ' The Annual wildflowers' , which have a long blooming season of nearly two months or more. But at the same time they have a short life cycle, with the new plants generally growing from the seeds that scatter when the flowers dry out.
3, There are also ' The Perennials' , which are hardy and last longer. These varieties are liked by gardeners , since they flower annually once or twice and the plants last for 6-7 years, sometimes even longer than that .The new plants can be grown through seeds. All these features make them extremely popular with the gardeners.
4, All wild flowers need an abundance of sun , but not much water since they grow without much care or regular water.
Some of the more popular varieties of wild flowers
Nowadays a wide variety of wild flowers are being used for landscaping in large parks and gardens and used as fillers while planning a rock garden or simply grown for their beauty which is refreshing ! Botanists have also tried their hand at domesticating some of these wild beauties with very attractive and colorful results !
Buttercups – Buttercups are well known and grown in many gardens now although historically they come into the category of wild flowers. These beautiful yellow flowers are very popular and we get to see them now in different hues and multi -layered varieties as well.
Forget Me Nots – These lovely little blue flowers that grow in bunches are loved by poets and other romantic novel writers who often compare the eyes of a person to these flowers .
Trout Lily - This is another equally attractive flower that comes in many shades like cream, yellow, mauve and light baby pink. They have attractive foliage as well and look very elegant in any garden.
Blue Bells - These are native to Western Europe and West Africa . These blue colored bell shaped flowers grow wild on mountain sides in Europe Scotland and even in India especially in the western ghats. They are called fairy flowers by the Europeans since during spring the carpet of these flowers makes an almost magical setting!
Poppies - Poppies were traditionally red in color although we get to see many shades of them these days ! These well known beautiful red wild flowers were, according to records were grown for the first time in Great Britain for commercial purposes in the year 1794. Prior to this the same poppy had been a popular cottage garden flower grown exclusively for its floral beauty.
The narcotic properties of the Opium Poppy have greatly overshadowed the value of this lovely flowering plant. The joke is that it is legal to sell opium poppy seeds in the United States, but it is illegal to grow them.. The plants have a long history in the mythology and legend of most Western cultures and were recognized as symbols of fertility.
Primroses - Native of Europe and Britain, these elegant cream and yellow colored flowers are favored by many gardeners to use in rock gardens since the plants are small and spread well. There are now many colors and varieties of primroses including shades of reds and pinks and mauve, all very colorful and attractive to grow in any garden.
Cactus blooms - Cactus as we know is a wild plant growing in deserts and now in gardens and some very hardy varieties by the road sides. Cactus plants have very attractive blooms in bright shades of pink,red,yellow etc. Cactus plants have now become a must for any cultivated garden and cacyus blooms too have become part of the urban scenery !
Roses - Probably the most famous of them all is the rose , which has inspired poets and romantics to write pages on them. What we get to see now is the cultivated and domesticated version of the wild variety of the ancient times ! The presence of thorns and the rough leaves easily suggest that roses were originally wild flowers that grew in open places across the world. The attractive blooms and the heady fragrance must have encouraged the botanists to bring it closer home into private gardens and parks so that everyone could enjoy the beauty. Rose flower and rose perfumes are a big industry today and no one probably remembers its humble past when they pay a few hundred rupees ( or that many dollars ) for a dozen odd blood red roses !
It has been told that Wildflowers are an easy way to explore nature since they grow in abundance without requiring any care or attention. Mountain sides, valleys and meadows are filled with them making for an attractive landscape .They are hardy and are able to sustain themselves in all kinds of weather ..cultivating wildflower meadows has become very popular among gardener lovers in the western countries s and we get to see wild flowers blooming in home and cottage gardens, making it a splash of color .
The only requirement is for the plants to establish well in the new environment and grow. But once having done that it is very easy to maintain them as their requirements are very few, including watering.They grow and multiply very fast once the conditions are favorable!
( Images are from wikimedia picture gallery)
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