I love Rogers Park, Chicago. Boasting the city's greatest cultural diversity, fairly low crime rates, and old architectural charm of this hood, as a bonus there is also plenty of interesting plant life going on. People don't manicure the shit out of their lawns here (except for the guy with the plastic lawn... see future posts for pictures of that clownery). The symbol of Rogers Park is a tree standing in front of flowing water, with the foliage of the tree being composed of many hands. As an enjoyer of both plants and people, this makes me feel very much "at home."
Don't get me wrong; Rogers Park is not a playground, and it's certainly not ok to be walking through most parts at 3am with a big ostentatious Vitton bag. But I don't do that anyway. No, I'm the girl trucking around in the morning with a paper bag, gloves, a rice paddle, and a camera, taking pictures and collecting sample of mosses and lichens. People probably leave me alone because they think I'm some kind of nutter, which works for me.
What did I find? Volunteer species!
Wikipedia defines a botanical "volunteer" as such:
In gardening and botanical terminology, a volunteer is a plant that grows on its own, rather than being deliberately planted by a human farmer or gardener. Volunteers often grow from seeds that float in on the wind, are dropped by birds, or are inadvertently mixed into compost before it is used.Unlike weeds, which are unwanted plants, a volunteer may be encouraged once it appears, being watered, fertilized, or otherwise cared for.Volunteers that grow from the seeds of specific cultivars do not reliably "come true", and often differ significantly from the parent. Such open pollinated plants, if they show desirable characteristics, may be selected to become new cultivars.
Cited without permission. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteer_(botany)
Volunteer plants are super sexy. All the landscapers around the city are dying to get some colorful blooms out. Thus everywhere for the next few weeks you will see thin-skinned, indoor-cultivated pansies (as my mother would say, "pffff, pansies"), looking like they would rather be anywhere but out in a high wind. Even the tulips, with their waxy cuticles, don't last long in spring. The 'scapers put them out in adorable color patterns, they look like shit after a week, and they all get dug up and thrown away. Lame!
Volunteer plants are hardy, often native/noninvasive, and fucking beautiful. The croci are creeping out like unobtrusive, casual jewels that resist cultivation and even being picked (they don't last long in arrangements). They are meant to be enjoyed in situ. And how enjoyable they are.
Pink Croci NOID with matching dime-baggie (oh Rogers Park)
A fallen "pickwick" petal. Apologies for the dirty fingernails.
A volunteer trillium, probably "recurvatum," a.k.a. "Bloody Butcher." My grandmother has these up the wazoo in her lawn/woods in Batavia, IL. Stay tuned for pictures of her volunteer spring beauties.