Saturday, August 13, 2016
A Story in Flowers
Spring begins slowly, gaining steam with each day that passes. From the truly early birds, like Skunk Cabbage spathes, on up to the flowers that cross into summer, there is a growing (no pun intended) progression of blossoms. Some are minute, some large. Most are low-growing and you may have to make some effort to pick them out of the other growing plants.
You may note that a few images are repeated from older posts. This is because I kept poor records of what I did and did not yet include, and I don't have the time to go back and double-check. I have too many pictures and keep taking more, so I'll apologize in advance for those times when a duplication happens.
I began this blog thinking a few people might find it interesting and entertaining, and it is meant to be a casual thing :>) Well, it has quite a following which surprised me. I thank you all for your time and interest! The posts are erratic (as time allows), but I continue to hope that you are pleased with what you see and read.
These beautiful flowers, Trout Lilies, have lovely leaves as well as gorgeous blooms. They are fond of dappled sunlight and thrive in the woods in rich, moist soil. Look for them in late April to Early May in the margins of wooded areas where sunlight filters down to the forest floor.
The Dogwood and Redbud trees are springtime bloomers, too, and they fill the woods with white and pink set against the new-born green of leaves. Trees offer some wonderful flowers, many are just too small to be noticed.
We are fortunate to have dogwood and Redbud trees growing wild in our woods. Here are some Dogwood and Redbud images for you.
After the browns and grey of winter, springtime bursts forth in a riot of color. Leaves open, wildflowers bloom, and trees blossom. It's a true awakening.
Skunk Cabbage blooms in February and March, even pushing it's way through snow and ice to offer up the fetid scent of something rotten to attract the few insects out and about. The leaves arrive after the plant blooms, beautiful, huge, green leaves that could remind you of cabbage. When the leaves are crushed, they give off an odor that is something like a skunk.
|Look inside to see white sphere with nobs that is the reproductive part of this plant.|
|This is the seed pod of a SkunkCabbage plant|
|Skunk Cabbage leaves as they begin to grow. Notice the plant is right at the edge of the brook.|
|A mature stand of Skunk Cabbage leaves|
The greens of springtime are serene and cool. Ferns are some of my favorite foliage plants and there are many types. They grow in all kinds of habitats, have a wide variety of shapes, and have different ways of producing the spores that are their "seeds"
Maidenhair Ferns, like those shown below, are delicate with a graceful curve to the leaf. Each leaf has a black, wire-like stem. The height is what I'd call average, about one to two feet tall, and they grow in clumps in filtered sunlight.
Pussywillow trees flower in the spring. They are widely used in bouquets, and kids love to feel the fuzzy catkins. These are swamp trees that enjoy damp environments. Look for the blooms early in spring.
Wild Ginger is another May arrival in wetlands. The tiny flowers grow at ground level beneath the cover of the foliage above.
Chicory is a late spring flower that grows all summer long. Often it keeps company with Queen Anne's Lace, another white wildflower with great appeal. Chicory is blue except in very rare occurences of white or pink. This white blooming plant never appeared again after I found it the one year.
|A rare sighting of a white Chicory flower.|
The wild Blue Flag, another wetland plant, blooms in the very late spring and early summer. It favors the edges of lakes and ponds or slow-moving streams, and is a magnificent sight. You may recognize it as a member of the iris family.
Wildflowers make a lovely show for anyone looking :>) Here are daylilies, daisies, and black-eyed Susan flowers. Although daylilies have been widely hybridized (and thousands of colors and shapes are available for gardeners), they were originally an introduced flower that is so successful at naturalizing, they are now shown in wildflower guides.
Here is one of our favorite parts of spring, chorus frogs. This is a Spring Peeper, but there are quite a few kinds of tiny, singing frogs in our area. Cricket Frogs sound a lot like, you guessed it, crickets :>) These little guys live on the forest floor but climb well. They hibernate behind loose bark or under logs while winter grips the land, then emerge in spring to burst forth with lovely song. We know spring is here when we hear the frogs begin to sing. They need water to lay their eggs in, and vernal pools are of utmost importance to maintaining the species.
This Black-eyed Susan wildflower has visitors. Honeybees are rarely seen here since the population crash, so any sighting is a cause for celebration. The beetles are also enjoying a snack.
Wild Geraniums give a sweet, pink addition to the colors of spring. They like moist soil, but don't want to live right in the water. Moist woodland is fine for them as long as they get enough sun with a touch of shade,
Do you love butter? As kids, we'd hold a buttercup under someone's chin to see if it reflected yellow. If it did, they loved butter! There are many insects who love, if not butter, buttercups :>)
Buttercups belong to their own family of flowering plants, and there are at least two types of buttercups in Pennsylvania. Wild Columbine and Delphiniums are cousins. This family of plants is called poisonous, although tasting a buttercup will not kill you. The chemicals in them suppress the central nervous system. Never assume a plant or flower is "safe to eat" unless you've done your research. Caution is the better part of valor.
This is one wildflower you CAN eat. The common name is Heal All, and as a perennial, it grows back year after year. Our woods have many plants. They don't seem to grow together; we have more individuals than colonies. They look like miniature orchids to me.
Speedwell (or Veronica) is the common name of this minute, pretty wildflower. It grows close to the ground in full sun, and you'll need to look for it to notice it. The flowers are about 1/4" - the ant gives a size reference.
|Veronica, or Speedwell, Wildflower with ant visitor.|
I'm leaving you with a picture of a shy butterfly, the
that lives right on the margins of the woods and tree lines. They flit in and out of the undergrowth seeking a sunny leaf to rest upon and warm themselves. If you see them flying in and out of the shadows, you'll probably not give a second glance. Seen close up they are beautiful.
Thank you so much for taking time to view my blog. It's amazing to see there are readers from all over the world :>) I hope you continue to enjoy this modest little corner of my world.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Springtime Underfoot & a Few Skyward Images
Flowers Abound in the Woods
It took awhile for winter to finally admit defeat. Even a couple nights ago the temperature fell to near or at freezing, but that should all be done now. The wildflowers are blooming, and the woods are filled with baby leaves and fern fiddle heads. The pollen counts are high and our vehicles are heavily dusted with yellow pollen. It really is spring!
These pictures are mainly of springtime wildflowers, interspersed with a few other things just to spice it up a bit. I promised at the beginning of my blogging that I would not use scientific names; they tend to put people off. Common names, although less accurate, are friendly and comfortable for most of us. If I use a name that seems wrong to you, let me know, but understand that common names may be used in different areas for different plants. I have been known to make a mistake or two - LOL.
Bloodroot wildflowers are among the very first to show up and, at this point, most are done blooming. The beautiful leaves are left to grow and nourish the seed pods. Bloodroot depends on ants to help disperse their seeds.
Chionodoxa is sometimes called "Glory of the Snow" because it blooms so early. It appears right about the time crocuses bloom and has this glorious, bright blue/purple color.
Rue Anemones are delicate, little wildflowers that thrive in somewhat shaded areas of the woods where sunshine breaks through. They are mostly white, although there are pink and pinkish varieties that grow sometimes. Note the leaves; they look like mittens.
A very close cousin shows it's face at the same time. Wood Anemones are less common and have very different leaves. The leaves are larger with defined cuts and points. The flowers are different, too, but not as obviously different as the leaves.
Our apple tree is blooming and it's beautiful! Fruit trees (like cheery, pear, apple, and plum) are beautiful accents to a springtime landscape. Although the flowers are soon gone, they are worth the wait.
Ajuga loves more sunshine than shade but around here it seems to grow okay with partial shade. Both blue and pink forms grow together; these are in the lawn at a local open space park. Another name for these pretty plants is Bugleweed.
This is a Ridged Carrion Beetle. There are a number of different kinds of carrion beetles. They appear on scene to help clean up the things that die. I looked around to see why it was on this rock and I found a dead mouse. Nature's garbage workers are often disliked, but they serve a very important function in the environment. Actually, I think this beetle is cute:>)