Saturday, April 27, 2013

Buds Are Biding Their Time

Well, Wednesday was so sunny and warm, I got my hopes up that buds would soon burst into bloom and leaf.  But then came Thursday and Friday with their cold gray mornings, and if the flowers and trees had started to open their buds, they quickly retreated.  On Thursday, I was out in the Skidmore Woods with the Thursday Naturalists, and on Friday I hiked the Denton Preserve near Ft. Miller with my friend Sue.  Disappointed both days by the scarcity of blooms, we amused ourselves by admiring the many buds that are biding their time.  And truth to tell, many of the buds are worthy of plenty of admiration in their own right.  Here are a few of those we found.

First, the tree buds. This elegantly slender bud of deeply pleated leaves, erect as a candle flame and tipped with rose, was a mystery to me until Ruth Schottman examined it and suggested Alternate-leaved Dogwood.  We were lucky to find a shrub in such good health, since this species is one of the native dogwoods currently being devastated by a blight throughout the northeast.

Another dogwood, this one Panicled Dogwood.  Its baby leaves were so brightly colored, the shrub looked as if it were populated by a flock of tropical birds.

Of more subtle, but equally beautiful coloration, was this trident of Striped Maple,  its pillowy green-velvet leaf buds blushed with pink..

These Red Maple sprouts were confetti-bright, the yellow-green baby leaves erupting from bud scales the color of bubblegum.

The glossy green bud scales and deep-red clusters of Norway Maple's baby leaves are beautiful, but they are far from being a welcome sight.  Unfortunately, this handsome introduced species is proving to be quite invasive.

I wasn't sure if these lop-sided leaf buds were those of American Basswood, whose heart-shaped leaves will be equally lop-sided.  So I looked on the internet, where I found basswood buds described as looking like "mice wearing red motorcycle helmets."  Yeah, that works.  I also learned that the buds are quite tasty and sweet.  I'll be sure to try them next time I find them.

I love the deep-red spiky flower buds of Ash, clustered on the twig like a litter of baby hedgehogs.

As I mentioned, we found very few open flowers, but the buds are there, just waiting for a few warm days in a row to summon them into bloom.  The pretty little snowflake-like flowers of Miterwort are always worth waiting for.

On our Thursday walk, we were quite surprised to see Large-flowered White Trillium already breaking bud, since this species usually doesn't bloom until after the Red Trilliums are waning, and the Reds are just beginning to flower themselves.  Even if we hadn't spotted the white petals folded within this bud, we would have known it was the large-flowered species because the bud was borne erect on a short petiole, not drooping on a long petiole as the red-flowered buds would be.

This is the Red Trillium, with its long-stalked flower trying to hide beneath its broad green leaves.  This photo was taken the same day as the one above.  Last year, the blooming time of both reds and whites overlapped because of extraordinary warmth pushing the whites ahead, and this year they may do the same, but because of extraordinary cold delaying the blooming time of the reds.

Shortly after they first push up from the ground, the single shiny round buds of the May Apple flowers peek out from the shelter of their twin green leaves.  As the plant matures and before it produces its single large white flower, the bud will recede beneath the overspreading shade of its umbrella-like leaves.

It won't be long before these Columbine buds open to reveal the brilliant red and yellow of their dangling blooms.  In the meantime, the silvery, ruffly leaves and pink stems and sepals offer their own kind of beauty.

An open flower at last!  On Thursday, we searched and searched for violets of any species in the Skidmore Woods.  It wasn't until the very last moments of our wanderings there that we found this single bloom of Long-spurred Violet.   With the stretch of warm days now predicted for the coming week, the forest floor should soon be all abloom with these and many other spring wildflowers.


Andrew Lane Gibson said...

it's amazing what a difference a year can make. I was down in southern Ohio today scouting for this upcoming weekend's wildflower event in Shawnee state forest and found all my beloved orchids just starting to come up and a few barely in bud. this time last year they have already been in full flower for nearly three weeks! here's hoping things warm up and get on track in time for my visit in a month :)

Unknown said...

In my neck of the woods, the Norway Maples bloom profusely before revealing any such large [undeveloped] leaves. The little yellow/green flowers are cute, but shed the pollen!