~~~ For my friend, D.F. ~~~
This is the BIRDSFOOT TREFOIL flower that you saw here at Balsamea. TREFOIL means “plant with three leaves.”
The flowers bloom for several weeks through July and August. They call it “bird’s foot” because of the look of the fruit they get later in the summer. The fruit is a cluster of tiny pea pods. See the picture below.
Legumes are an important source of protein. They are a key food in healthy diets and have many benefits for people and animals. They are inexpensive and easy to cook, too.
Birdsfoot trefoil is farmed as food for cattle and sheep.
The plant is also a good “green manure.” This means that it adds nitrogen to the soil. Nitrogen is a kind of fertilizer, or food for plants.
The scientific name for birdsfoot trefoil is “Lotus corniculatus.”
I like them in my yard for several reasons.
First, they are beautiful. It is a blessing to see, hear, smell and touch natural beauty every time I step out of my “tiny house” or even just look out the window! It is important to my happiness and peace of mind.
I am unbelievably fortunate to have Balsamea. Now I have the great pleasure of sharing it with you. Share the blessing, double the joy!
Another reason I like birdsfoot trefoil: it is good ground cover that the ants don’t destroy like they do other things here. By “ground cover” I mean something that grows in thick patches instead of having bare spots. There are a lot of tiny ants here that create bare spots in the grass.
The trefoil also helps keep my soil fertile for other plants to grow. Maybe you noticed that it’s like a jungle of grasses growing in the trefoil patches. I guess you can see some of that in the pictures you took.
So this is why I don’t mow all of my grass. I leave patches of uncut grass and wildflowers to grow until they fully mature and produce seeds to grow next year. Besides, turkeys also like my “lawn farm.”
(I’m sure you remember the wild blueberry patch behind the turkeys.)
By letting the wildflowers grow, I always have plenty of daisies to pick and put in a vase. Daisies last a long time in water. Just be sure to get them into water immediately after you pick them.
The trefoil flowers attract bumble bees and butterflies, which I love to see. Besides their beauty, these insects are important pollinators.
In April 2017, the New York State Conservationist for Kids magazine was all about pollinators. (Did you see it? I think I sent it to you through Grammy. I hope I did.)
The famous environmental hero and nature writer John Muir said, “Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares [worries] will drop off like autumn leaves.”
That’s what I meant when I told you on the trail that just being in nature is good for you. I could not live without it.
D.F., I am delighted that you enjoyed your visit to Balsamea. Thank you for that delight. Come again soon!
Attention Fourth Grade Teachers!
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