With all the rain this week it might not seem like there are many wildflowers out in Northern Indiana Lakes Country yet. However, you just need to know where to look! One of the best places to see the first signs of spring is Ropchan Wildlife Refuge on State Road 827 near Orland. It is not only a great place to snap some pictures of wildflowers, but in my case get my son home from college to go for a walk with the family dog.
Some of the prettiest Hoosier wildflowers are known as Liverleaf or Liverworts. Don’t let their unappealing name fool you though! These tiny woodland flowers (about the size of violets) come in an array of colors from white to blue and purple. These flowers have six petals and yellow pistols that, as my grandmother would say, make a nice little “tussy mussy.” You can find them on the main path the leads into the Refuge.
From there several paths merge and diverge – all equally filled with tiny spring flowers. There are a great deal of bluebells – which I used to confuse with violets (everything comes back to violets with me) and plenty of forsythia too. Phlox in pink, blue and white are beginning to dot the area, as well as a cool little flower sometimes called a wood poppy that comes in yellow. It sort of reminds me of a tiny buttercup. And those with a keen eye might also spot some wild geraniums sometimes called Cranesbills. They are often bright or hot pink, but really do not look much like our garden variety geraniums.
Two of my favorite Indiana spring wildflowers are Spring Beauties and Jacob’s Ladder. Spring Beauties are often a hot pink flower with a delicate darker pink line striping the length of the petals. Jacob’s Ladder are more of a bell-shaped purpley-blue or pink, with a white interior.
The trails are easy to walk (reasonably flat/no hills) and perfect for any age – though a bit muddy from the rain. Definitely bring boots! For a preview of the flowers click on the video and, as the song says, remember that the rain brings violets. It is, after all, always about the violets!