Wildflowers

  • 10 great bog walks

    In nature, bogs are the coral reefs of the north woods. They're wet, spongy and seething with life that's often too small to see unless you look closely. Lean over the boardwalk, and you'll get a better view of sparkly goldthread or the lacy needles of baby tamarack.

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  • Spring in Door County

    Goldthread and gaywings. Bogbean and trailing arbutus. In Wisconsin's Door County, it's enough to make a naturalist hyperventilate. Cherry blossoms and daffodils are the showiest spring flowers on this tourist playground between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. But it's the wildflowers, many of them rare, that provide the most joyous proof that spring has arrived. On sandy ridges, the first flower spotted often is the once-common trailing arbutus, whose waxy white blossoms emerge in April.

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  • Where to find spring wildflowers

    In spring, we're all delighted by the arrival of the first spring wildflowers. Here are just a few of the best places to look for them. Wisconsin's state natural areas.

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  • Searching for morels

    Deep down, every morel hunter believes in divine providence. There's nothing so providential as baskets overflowing with morels, and the taste is so divine hunters dream about it all winter. In spring, they offer a fervent prayer to the mushroom gods: May the fungus be among us. Morels do taste heavenly. But it's the hunt that's so addictive — it's fun to find something for free that's so expensive in stores and restaurants, and it's fun to beat the odds by finding something so notoriously elusive.

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  • Itching for spring

    When the snow is gone, the fun begins. Most of us would be happy to see something, anything, that’s green. But there’s no reason to wait for that before going outdoors. Early spring is the best time to hunt for agates on Great Lakes beaches, where winter storms have tossed up a new batch of rocks. If you wait until July, when most tourists arrive, they’ll be picked over.

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  • Tiptoeing through the toothwort

    Nothing is more exhilarating than the first days of spring, when the air practically vibrates with the pent-up vigor of growing things. Warm sunlight filters down through budding forests, and the rich smell of humus wafts up from their floors. Then, amid the decaying leaves and grasses, we find the first spring ephemerals. They gladden our hearts, those brave little blooms. But they come, and then they go.

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  • Road trip: Wildflowers of the Mississippi Valley

    In May, the woods are full of people on the hunt. Some are stalking morel mushrooms. Others are trying to bag a turkey or spot a rare warbler. The rest of us are content to chase wildflowers. For one thing, we’re guaranteed success.

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  • 10 great places to find late-summer wildflowers

    In summer, you don’t have to hunt wildflowers. They’re big and splashy, blooming by the thousands on prairie, along bicycle trails and anywhere there’s sun. When everything else is green, they give us pops of color: the purple of bottle gentian, the orange of hawkweed, the yellow of tansy. Do you like Monet’s paintings of Giverny?

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  • Wildflowers of the North Shore

    In spring, not that many people go to the North Shore to see the flowers. They’re small, and the rest of the scenery is big and distracting — roaring waterfalls, jagged cliffs and that mesmerizing inland sea that fills the horizon. If you do look down, you’ll find them huddled in cracks on lava flows, tucked along hiking trails and in boggy patches along streams. They’re dainty, but many are fairly unusual — butterwort as well as bluebells, rock clematis along with columbine.

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  • Wallowing in wildflowers

    When delicate spring wildflowers appear, it means winter finally is over. No wonder we love them so much. But they're ephemeral — here today, gone tomorrow. So if you want a good dose of them, head for a place where you know they'll be.

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