ccflcr-jillettinger

Spoiler: Summer is going to end. It never does last long enough.  Even if you live in a warm climate year-round, there’s a noticeably different feeling to summer. The days are longer, people seem to smile and relax more. We savor these moments sitting out on the porch, spending lazy days at the beach, hiking, picnicking and inviting friends and family over for laughing and eating and laughing just a bit more.

One of the most delightful treats of summer is the warm breeze scented with a mélange of flowers. Roses, geraniums and jasmine are the aromatic royalty. Unscented impatiens, birds of paradise and daisies are stunning too. But, summer is synonymous with those strange and often unidentifiable wildflowers—asters, milkweed, lupines and lilies, black-eyed susans, prairie roses, yucca and petunias.

Perhaps you’re planning a party or two before the weather cools. You’ve finally got the barbecue cleaned up from July 4th, and those tomatoes, peaches and berries piling up are just begging for some much-deserved oohs and aahs.

The date is set, your menu is perfect and all you need is a fabulous eco-chic centerpiece. While state and national parks have rules prohibiting taking any flora, there are places to find wildflowers. Scope out your neighborhood and ask neighbors if they mind you clipping a few buds. Check roadsides near parks. Never pull a plant out of the ground. Some city parks and other public areas may have wildflowers growing that you are allowed to pick or collect. Farmers markets often have vendors selling locally harvested flowers.

Flowers grown in a natural environment are typically not exposed to the harsh chemicals and pesticides widely used on commercially grown cut flowers. Locally picked flowers are also not traveling thousands of miles to get to your favorite vase. Seventy percent of cut flower arrangements are imported to the U.S. from countries including Ecuador, Columbia, China and Tanzania.

Add your favorite edible flowers to your favorite dish. Chamomile can be brewed into a naturally sweet iced-tea. Primrose and yucca flowers can be added to salads or desserts.

Get your summer on. Get wild, flower.