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Roadside splendor

Wildflowers add color to rural byways

Far removed from the Interstate and major highways that connect cities and villages around Washington County is a vast network of county and township roads.

There are 341 miles of county roads in the county and 835 miles of township roads.

For the most part they are sparsely populated and lightly used.

Alongside the roads grow scores of different plant species. The job of keeping things mowed down is a big one. Mowers for Washington County make two passes on the county road. Township roads typically get one mowing per year, with some locations getting a second pass.

The quiet roadsides allow for the growth of a large variety of wildflowers and the wildflowers provide the perfect habitat for both birds and insects.

Many of the roads bear the names of the families that have lived there for generations with names like Hendershot Road, Schott Road and Pottmeyer Road. Others are named for natural features like Whipple Run Road or Muskingum River Road. Others are named for things that used to be there, Turkeyhen Road for instance is named after a one-room school young students who walked from area farms attended.

The wildflowers that grow along the roads are as different as the roads themselves.

With names like Bloodroot, Queen Anne’s Lace, Yellow Lady’s Slipper, May apple and Milkweed the plants are as varied as their names.

Finding these treasures of rural Ohio is as simple as driving out of town and turning down any road that doesn’t have a line down the middle and safety stripping down the side.

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