Friday, April 15, 2011

What's Doing the Blooming Today?

The snow is finally ALL gone from the Skidmore woods, and the English Violets have opened their pristine white blossoms at last. Note that the lower petals do not have the dark stripes typical of most violets, although the rear spur is tinged with purple. This is the white variety of the normally dark-purple Viola odorata, an introduced species whose Latin name gives a clue to one of its distinguishing characteristics, its exquisite fragrance.

The Victorian ladies whose mansions once lined the carriage roads that run through the Skidmore woods would carry nosegays of these beautiful flowers, although they probably preferred the purple variety, which are even more fragrant. I found a large patch of the purple variety on the other side of the campus, still in bud today, but deliciously fragrant even though the petals were not quite open.

Also blooming at Skidmore today was Leatherwood, a sprawling understory shrub that seems to like damp soil. The end of each twig bears one fuzzy bud that contains three pale-yellow trumpets dangling down, long stamens protruding well below the blossoms.

On another shrub, the pistils were protruding even further than the stamens.

You might not notice these flowers at a casual glance, since they are small and not particularly showy. But I think they are worth a closer look.


Virginia said...

Just as I suspected--you are finding wonderful signs of Spring! I was not aware of snow trillium and that fire was a little scary. I had a day with lots of bee hills in my garden--your pictures were great. I enjoyed the daily walk with you.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Hi Virginia, good to hear from you. I hope you are getting out into the woods a little, too. If you want to see Snow Trillium, there is only one place to do so, at Orra Phelps Preserve in Wilton, since it doesn't normally grow around here. We're pretty sure that Orra must have planted it.