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Wildflowers of New England

"Wildflowers" is a tricky word: do not confuse it with "native." If a flower grows wild in a given area -- whether because it is, indeed, native or because it has naturalized -- it would have to be considered a wildflower there by definition. So to deal properly with wildflowers, we have to be specific about the section of the globe we are referencing. I happen to live in New England (U.S.), myself, and in listing wildflowers here, I'm talking about plants that grow wild in my area.

Dutchman's Breeches
Growing Dutchman's breeches is all about whimsy. But it hardly hurts its estimation among gardeners that this wildflower of New England is a shade lover, giving you an option with some pizazz for low-light areas. Like its relative, bleeding hearts, Dutchman's breeches received its common name from the odd-ball shape of its blossoms.

Goldenrod is a wildflower of New England that belongs to the huge Aster family. There are numerous types of goldenrod. Many bloom in fall. That's both a blessing and a curse for goldenrod. Because goldenrod's reputation has been besmirched by an unfortunate accident: it blooms at the same time as ragweed and is often blamed for the allergic reaction that the latter induces.

Joe-Pye Weed
Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum), like goldenrod, is a member of the Aster family and is most noticeable in fall. You'll often see it growing in damp areas. This wildflower of New England is a tall plant, making it effective in the back border of a cottage garden.

Marsh Marigolds
Speaking of wildflowers of New England that grow in damp areas, you can tell marsh marigold falls into that category just by glancing at its common name. Its yellow flowers are among the first blossoms you will spot in spring when walking through the woods in the Northeastern U.S.

Some of the prettiest spring scenes I've witnessed in New England have involved meadows filled with buttercups. This picture illustrates what I mean. I took this photo when traveling along the Maine coast.

Queen Anne's Lace
How does a plant in the Carrot family make this list? Well, Queen Anne's lace is a very attractive wildflower of New England that happens to be a member of the Carrot family. View my picture if you're curious as to what Queen Anne's Lace looks like.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit Plants
Jack-in-the-pulpit can loosely be termed a "wildflower" of New England. I say "loosely" because this member of the Arisaema genus is grown primarily not for its flower but for its spathe, a hooded, cup-like growth. Since it grows on the woodland floor in the wild, jack-in-the-pulpit is a good choice for the shade garden.

Common Milkweed Plants
Many people may view the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) that they see at the nursery (a plant with bright orange flowers) as their first choice when selecting a type of milkweed to grow, to attract butterflies. But common milkweed offers a readily-available alternative. One drawback to common milkweed, though, is its proclivity to spread, as I discuss here while describing the plant.

Bunchberry - Shade Ground Cover for Native Plant Landscaping
Bunchberry is a wildflower that looks as if it fell off of a dogwood tree. A native plant in New England (and even colder regions, including Alaska), it gives you an interesting option as a ground cover for shaded areas.

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