The land where we built our house was once old farm fields that partially grew back up into forest that was partially again before we came to it. There's an old gravel pit (with our very wild pond in the bottom of it), a long driveway, wild apple trees, stone walls. We built our house into a ridge of sand and gravel, like a giant toe, left behind by the glaciers. There was a line of scrubby field pine, in line with a barbed wire fence, and not much else when we put our house here 13 years ago. It's land that was disturbed very long ago (by the glaciers), and long ago (by the original woodcutters and farmers), more recently (by whoever owned the land before my father-in-law bought it), and very recently, by us. As a result, a lot of the plants growing around our house and yard and property are of the "weed" variety--early pioneers that take root in disturbed soil and prepare it for the next round of plants. Many of these plants are imports from other places, some of them are useful (as food or medicine), all of them are beautiful.
Common blackberries (Rubus allegheniensis) grow all along our driveway, thriving in rocky soil that was pushed out of the way in order to smooth our little road. They tend to be an every-other-year producer of fruit, and this year looks like it's going to be a good one. Blackberries are members of the rose family.
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) grows in the driest, scrubbiest, most compacted dirt--the road into the gravel pit, the edges of the driveway. Bees love it, and I even saw one of our resident hummingbirds probing the flowers with her slender beak. Z likes to eat it as well. The flowers are just beginning to fade (I'm not sure if it will have another round or not) and some other clovers are coming into bloom--white clover, yellow clover, rabbit-foot clover, and alsike clover, all members of the pea family.
Growing in the same scabby places alongside the clover is cow vetch (Vicia cracca), also a member of the pea family.
Our driveway is long and winding, passing by fields and through woods and along the old gravel pit. Different plants grow on the edges of it along different parts. The next two grow on the edge of the driveway as it passes by a large field near the main road. This spindly plant is a bedstraw--wild madder (Galium mollugo), aka whorled bedstraw.
For some reason I can never remember this little guy's name from year to year--grass-leaved stitchwort (Stellaria graminea), a member of the pink family. It looks like it has ten petals, but really only has five deeply cleft petals.
A whole bunch of these plants grow a little farther along our driveway, alongside a row of apple, birch, and aspen trees. I failed at identifying it and handed it over to C, who figured out what I missed--that it's a woody plant. I should have known, from how hard it was to snap off a stem, but it grows very low and doesn't much resemble a shrub. In any case, it's bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), a native honeysuckle.
We have another field between our house and its surrounding woods and the river. This time of year brings this field alive with the bright yellow dots of tall buttercups (Ranunculus acris).
This is the first bittersweet--or climbing--nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) I've seen growing on our property (it's in the gravel pit, right on the edge of the pond). It's such a pretty flower, but slightly sinister-looking, too. Or am I just projecting. Last year, Z told a friend of mine, "You can tell the nightshade because it has purple flowers, the berries look like clusters of tomatoes, and the leaves are shaped like the arrows of the Elves of Lothlorian--not the Elves of Rivendell." So keep that in mind. And don't eat it!