Sunday, May 20, 2012

How to Responsibly Enjoy Wildflowers

When I moved in with my husband-to-be and out to the country, I was taken by the lovely wildflowers that grow in the woods around our house and along the sides of the road.

Just because they're considered wild doesn't make them any less beautiful than flowers we cultivate in our own gardens! Why shouldn't I enjoy them in my own home? Well, there are both legal and ethical concerns to consider regarding picking of wildflowers and I've wrapped it all up for you here.

Pretty while they'll last but I'm afraid wildflowers are meant to be wild
Clearly, I had already picked these wildflowers from my own yard before writing this post. I had hoped this would get me a short and sweet post with some pretty photos. I will still share my photos with you, but it's important to note that I am not endorsing or supporting any illegal or unethical activity!

In general, I have a tree-hugger side and may have acted differently if I had done some Googleing before my picking! In light of this, I have included some alternatives so you don't have to actually pick any wildflowers. So with that, I will leave you with this guidance!

Here's a short version. Depending where you live, it could be entirely illegal to pick the wildflowers. So do your research and be informed. Even if it isn't illegal, picking wildflowers is selfish and harmful to the environment in general. I will tell you why and you can make your own decision! 

How to Make a Wildflower Bouquet

The Legal Stuff
  1. Picking any wildflowers at all could flat out be illegal where you live. Be sure to educate yourself about that.
  2. Trespassing on private property is illegal, stay out of trouble.
  3. There are laws against destroying public property and disrupting the right-of-way. Meaning if you are in a public park or similar setting. 
  4. There are a number of traffic laws you may be in violation of if you decide to pull over your car to enjoy the flowers.
  5. Don't pick flowers that aren't wild. If you think someone may have planted them there, those flowers are not yours for the taking. This applies to flowers next to someone's mailbox, or a public park. Leave the daffodils alone, sorry.
  6. Don't pick wildflowers with the intent to sell them. Personal enjoyment only please.
  7. Don't uproot the whole plant for transplant elsewhere.
Making wildflower bouquets

The Ethical Stuff
  1. By removing the wildflower from nature, you are hurting that flower's chances at survival. Even if you see plenty of that flower, there are greater forces of nature at work, and next year there could be very little of that flower.
  2. Some animals and insects may depend on that species for survival. They likely need that flower more than you.
  3. If you take the wildflowers, others will not be able to enjoy them.
  4. The flowers are meant to be wild. They won't last long in captivity in your home.
  5. Some species of wildflowers are endangered. Can you tell which ones those are? Me either. 
  6. Read up on more wildflower ethics here.
So, enjoying the great outdoors while admiring the wildflowers exactly where they are sounds like the way to go, right? If you are disheartened you can't take any wildflowers home with you, I have alternatives for you! 

How to Enjoy Wildflowers Responsibly
  1. Consider purchasing a wildflower seed mix and growing your own! Those ones are safe to pick. This site will recommend a mix for you. 
  2. Check out PlantNative.org to find out where you can purchase native plant species in your area. You may not get the instant gratification of taking home a bouquet, but it will be much more rewarding to grow your own!
  3. Display some dried herbs or wildflowers instead. We have these in our kitchen year round to compliment our country theme.

Late addition to the wildflower bouquets found on a trip to the mailbox

Still Going Picking? Some Advice
  1. Don't steal anyone else's flowers. If it looks like anyone else planted them there, steer clear.
  2. Be safe and watch out for unexpected terrain.
  3. Dress properly. Good shoes with socks and long pants. In the northeast where I am we especially worry about ticks and lyme disease, but you don't need run-ins with bees, spiders, or anything else that may live in the grass.
  4. Wear gloves. Some flowers have thorns, or could stain your skin or clothes, or may irritate your skin! Plus a little extra protection against creepy crawlies can't hurt.
  5. Use scissors to cut. If you still plan on picking wildflowers after reading the Ethical Stuff above, take some scissors with you so you don't do more damage to the plant by pulling on it.
  6. Get your flowers in water quickly. Like all flowers, it is best to cut the stem at an angle, under water if you can, then transfer immediately to your vase.
These beautiful purple flowers came back to life! They smell lovely. What are they?

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