Roadside Attraction - Some of the Best Places to See Wildflowers and Other Native Species These Days Are along America's Back Roads and Highways
Line, Les, National Wildlife
Near where I live in the Taconic Highlands along the New York- Connecticut border is a narrow dirt road that wanders over the hill and through the dale and past a fair representation of the region's different habitats. In spring, painted trilliums soak up the dappled sunlight of a young hardwood forest; blue flags wave in a wet meadow to a serenade from red-winged blackbirds; and fiery columbines cling to crannies in a limestone cobble, right along the roadside. It's the kind of country lane New England naturalist Hal Borland had in mind when he wrote in the 1970s, "If you would know an area's wild plants, park your car. Get out and walk, with your eyes open and your senses alert."
Good advice. Urban drivers may not be surprised that roadside strips of greenery often are the only public habitat left for wildflowers. But even in today's rural mosaic of horse and dairy farms, corn and hay fields and country-home developments, road edges often are the best places to find representative mixes of native and naturalized wildflowers and shrubs-and the insects they attract. Strips of such habitat in some areas turn out to be the only flower-bearing public land in our vast landscapes of private land.
Even highway departments in many parts of the country, following the leads of Texas and California, have been waking up to the potential for wildflowers along roadsides-both for the plants' beauty and the health of the ecosystem. Still, some highway departments aggressively use mowing machines and herbicides to keep nature at bay, both for the sake of appearance and concern for safety.
On Texas highways, however, …
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Publication information: Article title: Roadside Attraction - Some of the Best Places to See Wildflowers and Other Native Species These Days Are along America's Back Roads and Highways. Contributors: Line, Les - Author. Magazine title: National Wildlife. Volume: 38. Issue: 5 Publication date: August-September 2000. Page number: Not available. © 1999 National Wildlife Federation. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group.
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