Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Beauty and the Beast


You're probably curious about the title for this post, but that's what came to mind as I took the pictures I'm sharing today.

The "beauty" is an elegant wildflower called Queen Anne's Lace, and this time of year it can be found gracing our Mississippi roads, from the hill country of North Mississippi, to the flat coastal highways of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

I recently went in search of Queen Anne's Lace in hopes of capturing some new pictures for my collection. I wasn't disappointed ...

There were patches of it growing everywhere along the country roads surrounding Vicksburg, and I was in my glory as I stopped to get close up shots of the lacy flower heads on top of the long graceful stems swaying gently in the breeze.

Like snowflakes, there were no two flowers alike.

Think about that for a minute. Isn't that awesome!


This next flower reminds me of a pinwheel, and I wish I had gotten a better picture of it. I wonder what the odds are of my finding it again. Probably better than the odds were of my winning the Mega Millions lottery.

The little purple "heart" of this flower reminds me of a little butterfly floating deep within its center.

I'm so glad I captured my pictures before the big mowers begin their mowing season. There were wildflowers everywhere, and I love the red clover mixed in and amongst them.

I hope you will forgive me for getting so carried away with the "beauty" part of my story. I love Queen Anne's Lace, and get only one chance a year to capture and preserve a little of its beauty in my pictures.

And that brings us to "The Beast!"

As I explored the back roads, I was struck by the contrast between the elegant Queen Anne's Lace, and the prickly Thistle plants that were mixed in and amongst the patches of the graceful flowers.

At first glance, thistle is not an attractive plant, and its "spines," or "thorns," or "prickles," are lethal.

I researched thistles while writing this post to find out what the "thorns" are called, and found the following information: "Thistles are non-woody plants that are outfitted with prickles, one of the three different kinds of plant armor recognized by botanists. Thorns are modified branches. Spines are modified leaves." [Source: Thistles]

Whatever you want to call them, I found out from personal experience that they can be very painful (I was trying to shoo a bug away from a plant I was photographing and accidentally touched one of the needles).

But prickles or not, if you will look a little closer, you will see that thistles have a beauty all their own.


I hope I have inspired you to slow down and take some time to get a closer look at some of the wildflowers growing along the roadsides where you live. They're there for such a short time, but the experience of seeing them up close and from a different perspective will stay with you for a very long time.

6 comments:

Richard Cottrell said...

Your photos are the bomb. Just beautiful. We do not get Queen Anns lace till late May or June. Who knows with this year as everything is ahead of itself. I did a post about Missouri Queen Ann's lace last summer. If you missed it, please check it out. It was titled, Fields of Lace. It is a favorite and I know the farmers hate it. I love to pick it for flower arrangements. It is a little tricky to get to last. looks so much prettier than Baby's Breath. I see they even have seeds where you can try and grow it, oh my! Also last year at the Home Depot I saw plants. I thought, what a way to make a million. I loved your post. Happy Easter. Richard from My Old Historic House.

racheld said...

Oh, SUCH a lovely array---"beasts" and all. The lace is just the most exquisitely made of all the small-flowered cluster-blooms, I think, and such a showy flower for such a demure plant.

I love the beneaths of them, for they always look like a good head of dill with its Easter hat on.

And the thistles---well, you KNOW my love and affinity for thistles. The same thistle picture has been my blog header since I started here some 3 1/2 years ago---I just can't give it up, for it was captured by Chris on a very special day, and also because it was the cover picture of my first book.

Thank you for sharing all these roadside treasures---you have an unerring sense of the beautiful and true.

Glenda said...

Love your roadside photos! The lace is beautiful and so is the thistle in its own way. I've enjoyed photographing it in the past - but keeping my distance from its painful pricks. The clover is blooming here, too, alongside our roads. There is so much "ordinary" beauty around us if we take the time to look for it.

Lona said...

What beautiful wildflowers in this posting. Queen Anne's lace does not bloom here until fall but I always love seeing those lacy blooms. Your pictures shows them so beautifully with their bloom of many small flowers. The Red Clover looks so great with them. We do not have that up here in my area. I even like the thistle blooms and so do the butterflies and bees but maybe not the sticking parts. LOL! Our will not bloom until summer. What a wonderful posting.

Tonja said...

I LOVE TRAVELLING DOWN A COUNTRY ROAD THAT HAS NOT BEEN MOWED YET AND SEE ALL THE GLORIOUS WILDFLOWERS. CLOVER ALWAYS LOOKS SO PRETTY TO ME, AND THOSE TINY LITTLE DAISIES ARE SO PRETTY, TOO. BUT, THE QUEEN ANNE'S LACE HAS ALWAYS BEEN ONE OF MY FAVORITE OF THE ROADSIDE AND FIELD FLOWERS. THE WAY IT LOOKS ON TOP AND BOTTOM HAVE CAPTURED MY EYE FOR YEARS!

SORRY, THOUGH, THOSE THISTLES ARE JUST HARD TO LOOK AT...ESPECIALLY SINCE I REMEMBER FALLING INTO ONE WHEN I WAS A CHILD. NOT MY FAVORITE!

JUST LOOKED AT WHAT I WROTE AND SEE IT IS ALL IN CAPS...SORRY...I'M NOT SHOUTING AT YOU!

Carolyn said...

I love Queen Anne's lace..it reminds me of growing up on the farm in Arkansas. It has always been one of my favorite wild flowers.
THe thistle does have a beauty of its own, but I have a hard time appreciating its "pricklies" as well.
Lovely wildflower photos.
Carolyn