Blanket of bluebells in the woods


It's time for wildflowers!

The local wildflowers in the Shenandoah Valley can appear as early as March, but by late April and May, they are everywhere. My husband and I saw some purple Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea) and some Common Blue Violet (Viola papilonacea) on a walk this weekend (late March) on the Skyline Drive. It won't be long before we'll be seeing Virginia Bluebells along the banks of the river on our property (North Fork of the Shenandoah River). While it's not identified, I'm almost sure the photo above depicts these Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica).

My favorite wildflower identification books for the part of Virginia where I live are two by Oscar W. Gupton and Fred C. Swope:


It appears the first one might be out of print, but you can find a used copy. These are not only terrific reference books but also wonderful field guides. They are color-coded, and within each group of colors, they're arranged in the order the flowers appear during the year. So if I see a pink flower at the end of March, I can look in the beginning of the pink section and flip through pages until I find a picture like what I'm seeing.

If you live in another part of the country, you should be able to search for “Wildflower identification book” + “Colorado” or substitute whatever location you wish.

Annual Wildflower Weekend at Shenandoah National Park

If you live in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, you'll enjoy the Shenandoah National Park's annual wildflower weekend. It's usually in early May.

Here are some additional links for information about wildflowers in the Shenandoah National Park:

Find a park near you

National park finder:

State park finder:

Pink WildflowerFind a wildflower walk near you

Go to and enter “wildflower+walk+your state or county” and click the search button. For instance, to find an event near me, I would enter “wildflower+walk+Shenandoah Valley.” Happily there are lots of results.

Other sources for learning about wildflowers

If you can't find a wildflower walk but are anxious to learn about the wildflowers growing in your area, see if there are any garden clubs or Master Gardener programs near you. Your county extension office should be able to tell you. If you know someone who seems knowledgeable about wildflowers, they might be delighted for you to take a walk with them in a nearby woods or meadow.

If you're fortunate enough to have a public or university garden near you, they often have special programs in the spring. One of my fondest memories was visiting Longwood Gardens and the gardens at nearby Winterthur estate of Henry Francis du Pont near Wilmington, Delaware in mid-April, when trilliums, tulips, daffodils, and azaleas, as well as many flowering trees, were rampant.

What's in your own yard?

Don't overlook what's popping up in your own yard or neighborhood. Check with your local librarian to find recommended identification books, or go to one of these wildflower identification websites:

There's an app for that!

Go to your app store and search for “wildflower identification” or “wildflower ID.”

Make up your mind you'll learn to recognize at least one or two new wildflowers this year. I'd love to hear what your favorites are and if you have any other books or resources you've found especially helpful in learning how to recognize wildflowers. Leave a comment below or join the conversation at my Facebook Page.

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