Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Flush of Spring

Last week the temperatures rose to 70 degrees and the sun beckoned me to do some yard work which I had been putting off.  However as I started to assess the needed work I was gladly distracted by numerous spring wildflowers which had suddenly burst into bloom.  Enthusiastically putting aside the rake in favor of my camera I threw myself into trying to capture some images. 

Spicebush in full bloom
Spicebush blossom
A Spicebush we planted 3 years ago had escaped winter browsing by the ever growing deer herd.  While several smaller Spicebush specimens had been pruned by these large, white-tailed herbivores, this larger shrub exhibited a full load of yellow blooms nicely contrasted against the darker background of the ravine.  My goal this year will be to harvest some seed for growing next year. 

Oh – what’s that small flash of purple just behind the Spicebush?  Ah, it’s the Common Violet I once
Common Blue Violet
thought was a weed and tried to rid from our property.  Fortunately I was able to see the beauty in this common native plant and furthermore last year when we saw a Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly in the yard we learned the Violet is the butterfly’s only host plant.  Now we get to enjoy both the plant and the butterfly. 
Downy Yellow Violet

In another section of our yard, the Downy Yellow Violet is proudly showing its color.  How’s a person to do any work when there is such beauty
everywhere I turn?

This Bloodroot found a home in an old tree stump
The river of Bloodroot that bloomed last week has now let go of its pure white petals and unfurled its large green leaves.  These will absorb the sun’s rays before the trees leaf out, blocking that source of energy.  The leaves will carpet the shaded ground until late June or July when they’ll gradually die back, waiting until next spring’s warming soil to again release the annual showcase.  Wait; off in a corner of the yard, right in the center of a long decaying tree stump is a Bloodroot in full bloom.  What a sweet flash of brightness in this already shady area. 

Spring Beauty
And now another long awaited blossom grabs my attention – Spring Beauty, aptly named for its gorgeous, small white to lavender flowers.  The petals sport pinkish lines often called “nectar guides”.  These contrasting lines point numerous native pollinators to the available rewards. 

Yellow Trout Lily
White Trout Lily
Trout Lily leaves
Oh my – scads of Trout Lily show interesting white and yellow flowers.  I’m told that it’s pretty unusual to have both white and yellow Trout lilies in the same area.  So we consider ourselves blessed to have a lot of each.  I understand like the Spring Beauty, it takes 7 years for a plant to bloom after the seed germinates.  Each year the tiny bulb pulls itself deeper into the ground.  Back in the day when I wanted a luscious green lawn, I tilled this ground sowing grass seed.  Year after year I used a power thatcher to rip apart the ground urging grass to grow.  Now that I've shunned a lawn in this area and left nature to resume its work, dozens and dozens of Trout lily
leaves poke up through the remaining grass.  Thank goodness they had to persistence to put up with my abuse.

Today is Earth Day and there’s a hint of mixed rain/snow in the falling temperatures.  I had to put on a warm jacket to walk the yard, looking for the remnants of last week’s spring blossoms.  While these flowers may have buttoned up like it did, I know the next surge of sunshine and warmth will bring another flush of native blooms to enjoy.  

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