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Urban wildflowers

You don’t have to hike into the wilderness to see spring gems

Wildflower season is here in all its glory, a great harbinger of spring and a fantastic way to celebrate nature, beauty and renewal after more than a year of troubled times.

In Southern Oregon we are fortunate to have many accessible spots to view wildflowers, from Table Rocks to Roxy Ann to Grizzly Peak to the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Jacksonville.

And as luck would have it, we’re the top bloom in the wildflower bouquet.

Southern Oregon has wildflowers here that don’t grow anywhere in the world, and in what is called the California floristic province, which encompasses among other areas, parts of Mexico, California, Nevada and Oregon, we have more diversity than any other sub-region.

The aforementioned sites are great, but if you want to stay within the city limits, you’re in luck too. Both Holmes Park — now famous for its pickleball — and the IOOF Eastwood Pioneer Cemetery offer an array of colorful wildflowers, many of them quite rare, such as the grass widow.

Both areas offer solitude and splendor in equal amounts. Wildflowers have been able to flourish in these places by the fortunate confluence of lack of development and many years of low, careful maintenance.

Kristi Mergenthaler of the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy and a self-confessed “flower geek” says that small cemeteries, because they aren’t manicured and are often serviced by knowledgeable volunteers, are ideal resources for wildflowers.

She said that when Chicago began its big “green plan,” the city used wildflowers from local cemeteries to foster the project. As a result, the city was named the greenest city in America for many years, and in fact is a model for urban greening both here and internationally.

But you don’t need to go that toddlin’ town. Kick off your flower season on the local level, because it seems like everything is in bloom, and the wildflower season stretches into early summer.

As the temperatures rise in the valley, head up in elevation to places like Grizzly Peak, Mount Ashland, the Greensprings and Crater Lake, where wildflowers will be putting on a show into late June and early July.

Jefferson Reeder is a freelance writer living in Medford. Reach him at treederyay@gmail.com.

There’s an app for that

For those who want to do more than just view the splendor of wildflowers, and go a step further and identify them, our friends at Oregon State University have an app for that.

Available for download on the IOS or Android platform, the Oregon Wildflowers app provides multimedia information on nearly 1,000 wildflowers, shrubs and vines common in Oregon. For each plant, the app offers photographs, natural history, range maps and more.

The app costs $9.99 and works without an Internet connection, so you can identify flowers wherever you may wander.

Impress your hiking friends by secretly taking a snap and then saying, “Oh, that? It’s easy. It’s an Anderson’s larkspur, or, if you want to get technical, it’s a Delphinium Andersonii.”

You can purchase the app through Amazon, Apple and Google.