Yellow is the color for June, and yellow is my forever-favorite color. Since it makes me happy, I jumped at the chance to write this article. I began thinking about yellow and how it makes me feel. Then I started wondering why things are yellow and loving all things yellow.
For example, while driving, I made myself pay attention to traffic signs, warning barriers and stripes on the road. The important “pay attention to me” eye-catching signs and types of equipment are often various shades of yellow. It seems that the same goes for Mother Nature’s attention getters.
In early spring, yellow flowers were blooming before any other wildflowers. So while my husband drove past them at 55 to 70 miles per hour, I tried to identify a few. A couple of flowers that are often overlooked include dandelions and black-eyed Susans.
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are one of the most vital early spring nectar sources for a wide host of pollinators. Even youngsters can identify them. They like to pick and lovingly give them to Mom. The word dandelion is derived from the French term dent-de-lion meaning “lion’s tooth,” which refers to the leaves and not the flower.
Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) and clasping coneflowers (Dracopis amplexicaulis) are difficult to tell apart from a distance. The leaves of the coneflower plant, which bend backwards from the flower toward the stem, mark the difference. Can you tell one from the other as you pass them on the road?
Coreopsis flowers fill those beautiful fields everywhere along the highways and byways around town, which brings to mind a story I once heard about Lady Bird Johnson.
While Lady Bird was being given a countryside tour outside of Austin, she kept pointing to the many miles of wildflowers and remarking about those DYFs. No one questioned her initially, until a curious passenger asked what she was referring to and she replied “All of those ‘darlin’ yellow flowers!” While I’m not sure if this quote is accurate, it is picturesque.
If you want an indestructible plant that withstands everything, even the lawnmower, wedelia trilobata (Sphagneticola trilobata) comes to mind. While it can be an invasive plant, it is very durable. Even the freeze this year did not deter this mighty vine from returning to my yard. Its versatility makes it an effective groundcover or lovely hanging basket.
Everyone knows that the song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” refers to a woman, but not everyone knows that there is a rose called the yellow rose of Texas. And it’s not even from Texas. The yellow rose of Texas is another name for Harison’s yellow, which is a hybrid of rosa foetida, a yellow rose native to the Caucasus Mountains whose flowers have only six petals. Harison’s yellow is a double version.
Harison’s yellow can be found all over the West. They say that you can trace the Oregon Trail by following the bright yellow flowers of this pioneer rose. At the end of the Oregon Trail, Harrison’s yellow is called the logtown rose because it is found in many abandoned logging towns. The buildings may be decaying but those tough, hearty roses are still growing.
Many more yellow flowers make up Texas landscapes and have adapted to our hot, sunny summers. Some are esparanzas/yellow bells, lantana, bulbine, copper canyon daisies, daylilies, sunflowers, Mexican mint marigolds, honeysuckle and Carolina jasmine. All of them make me happy.
As other wildflowers fill in and grow, the yellow ones stay with the others, catching my eye. They seem to be saying “Look at me, look at me!” I can’t help but quote Humphrey Bogart and happily shout out “Here’s looking at you Kid!”