Friday, April 24, 2009
The wildflower torrent is about to begin. Today in the mid-70s, tomorrow approaching 90. I've been watching a Twinleaf plant (Jeffersonia diphylla) in the Yaddo rock garden, hoping to catch it in bloom. It seems there's about a five-minute window of opportunity to catch this flower in bloom, and with this hot weather, it will probably happen as soon as I turn my back. It's got nice fat buds on it now. Here's a photo of what it will look like (taken last year), in case I miss it.
Okay. I know I'm a nut. Who else would lie in wait for a flower to bloom? But it's Twinleaf! You don't find that one very often out in the woods. So somebody planted this one in a garden. So what? It's still a native wildflower. And the trip to Yaddo was not in vain. I found a nice patch of Dog Violet (Viola conspersa) blooming out on the lawn, and a little earlier than expected. So how do I know this is not just a Common Blue Violet? First, it's a little smaller, its blooms are paler in color, and if you look real close, you'll see that the leaves and flowers grow on a stem, not from a basal rosette. And the leaf and flower stalks are encased in sharply toothed stipules.
Note the sharply toothed stipules of Dog Violet
Details, details. Why can't I just say ooh what a pretty flower and not have to know it's real name? I guess I enjoy being struck with wonder at all the diversity that lies around us. I'm afraid I'd miss out on that if I didn't get down on my elbows and knees, turn the leaves over, peer under petals, take a peek at the flowers' private parts to see if they're girls or boys -- or, often as not, both! It's fun. It's like solving puzzles. And they say solving puzzles is good for old folks like me. The tick bites, now, that's another matter. Time to get out the DEET.