Up until 2 a.m. working on an advocacy paper and then awakened by a tornado alert on my cell phone at 5 a.m. a few days ago, seeing bright flashes of lightening through the blinds and hearing rumbling thunder as the rain poured down. After what seemed like a somewhat lengthy and lingering winter, we’ve had a rather wet spring with temperatures yo-yo-ing. The flowers seemed a bit confused, too, but they have been blooming albeit not always when expected!
My yard is quite enjoyable in the spring, with a variety of cultivated and wild-growing flowers. The cheerful violet crocuses (Crocus) were the first to greet me in delightful profusion, while the early blooming pear tree (Pyrus) only had a few blossoms this year, apparently confused by warm spring days alternating with freezing mornings.
A rapidly spreading invader, the purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) has moved into my flowerbeds, obviously feeling that it should be nestled in among the African daisies and tulips. It’s fine with me; I leave them be with their lovely little blossoms. The cute little Persian speedwell (Veronica persica) is sticking to the “lawn” – I wouldn’t mind if the grass were gradually all replaced with this wildflower, clover and moss.
The painted buckeyes (Aesculus sylvatica) have now bloomed but were also very pretty when they first began growing, like this specimen near Bolin Creek. Sweet Betsy (Calycanthus floridus) had reached a good size at the Botanical Garden, where the mountain witch alder (Fothergilla major) was also showing off its flowers. The foamflower (Tiarelia cordifolia var. collina) was half-way through its cycle and being visited by lots of bees.
At Mason Farm Biological Reserve, the dogwood (Cornus) was lovely; the tree in my yard didn’t flower this year but the leaves still look healthy. On the ground, the Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) was really abundant in places, some plants with green “tubes” and others with purple-striped ones.
Two plants were a bit mysterious. When I first saw the violet word sorrel (Oxalis violacea), I stared at it for a time as it seemed to be growing out of a clump of clover leaves. However, the flower didn’t look like clover; I finally decided it must be an unusual kind. The man in charge of Mason Farm, a botanist, set me straight fortunately. The other mystery concerned some clumps of red globules. An entomologist who was present told me they were insect eggs; bug experts on BugGuide, however, concurred that this had to be a slime mold. Interesting that insect eggs and slime mold can look so similar!
Next blog – some spring wildlife and then back to birds!