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The Women Who Saved Wildflowers

Spring ephemerals have begun to bloom in southern Vermont. The start of wildflower season is more predictable here than in the West, where wildflower emergence follows water, whether snowmelt (early July in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park) or rain (late February in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert). In New England, early May means yellow trout lilies and their stippled leaves. They’ll soon be followed by prim trillium, jocular Dutchman’s breeches, and precise wild columbine.

Perhaps you, too, are a hunter of wildflowers. You crouch down on walks through the woods, looking for the first flash of white, pink, yellow. You visit your local wildflower preserve to spot these short-lived blooms. You buy seedlings for your backyard from a native plant nursery.

Native wildflower gardening is more popular than ever. But a century ago, it was practically unheard of. Wildflowers persist in the numbers they do today because of the activism and research of a group of women ecologists who defied gender norms and founded the discipline of ecological restoration.

Sierra Club

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