Summer is a horrible time of the year, with all its heat and humidity and man-eating insects. There has never been anything for me to look forward to during these months of torture, that is, until I discovered flowers. Of course, the flowers have always been there. I just didn’t care.
Then one day on a drive out to Buttermilk Falls in Walpack, NJ, I came upon a large, dense cluster of daylilies growing along NPS 615 in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. It was a beautiful sight, so I pulled over to take a closer look and a few photos. When I got home I decided to look them up in my Audubon “Field Guide to Wildflowers”, which I’m not sure why I own. There must have been a fleeting moment of caring at some point.
I was fascinated to learn that the daylily gets its name from the fact that its flower lasts just one day. I was also skeptical, so I returned the next day to check them out. Wouldn’t you know, they were all gone–every last one of them. Unfortunately, it wasn’t due to some natural, floral process. No, the park service had been tidying up the sides of the road and had mowed them all down.
Undeterred, I headed towards the meadows near Buttermilk Falls. Daylilies grow along the edges on Mountain Rd. But something else caught my attention, when I got there. A large white-tailed buck stood silently watching me. Normally a creature of the night, it was like seeing a ghost in the daylight.
The daylilies were quickly forgotten, and I began to stalk this ghostly creature, oblivious to the magnificent world into which I had stumbled. After capturing the object of my desire, photographically of course, I finally took a look around me.
Do you know how many different types of flowers there are in a wild meadow? Many. And each meadow has a personality all its own. In July one meadow along Old Mine Rd. in Montague was full of black-eyed Susans and daisies and thistle and bergamot, and the next meadow over was a sea of common mullein.
One of the most fascinating things is how the meadows change throughout the season. You can visit one in June then go back in July, and it will look completely different with a whole new crop of flowers.
In the colder months to follow, I will share with you the things I have found while exploring these wonderful meadows. Maybe then I won’t dread the inevitable summer.
In case you’re wondering, I never did follow-up on the daylily quest to see if the flowers do, in fact, last only one day. That will probably require an advanced level of caring that I have not yet achieved.