Monday, April 14, 2014

The Floral Explosion Begins!

Remember my visit to Orra Phelps Nature Preserve just 5 days ago?  Here's what the woods looked like then:

Now see what a stretch of warm sunny days and a few rainy nights can do.  This is that same trail as in the photo above, although from the opposite direction, taken today.  Every single bit of that snow and hard-packed ice is now gone!

When I was here last Wednesday, I searched for some sign of Snow Trilliums, and found nothing but cold bare ground where I knew they grew, not even the tiniest shoot.   But look what I found today!  Boy, these flowers don't waste any time once they break through the soil.

It's such a privilege to find these dainty little flowers here at Orra Phelps, since Saratoga County is far from this trillium's native range.  It's believed that Orra herself must have planted them, and they have certainly thrived at this spot.  I counted nine plants blooming today, with many more plants that had no flowers.  Each year I am surprised anew by how tiny they are.  This photo is about life-size.  Note the maple seed for comparison.

So the floral explosion begins!  Every day now, new flowers will burst into bloom, making haste to set seed before the tree canopy closes in and limits the light that reaches the forest floor.  Among our earliest bloomers is the lovely Hepatica, and sure enough, I found this pristine white one blooming today at Orra Phelps.

I was not at all surprised to find these sunny yellow Coltsfoot flowers blooming today in downtown Saratoga's Congress Park.  I always think of them as the first spring flower that really LOOKS like a flower -- meaning one that has petals -- unlike the club-shaped Skunk Cabbage that does bloom even earlier. 

Many people mistake Coltsfoot flowers for Dandelions, but unlike Dandelions, whose flower stalks rise from a rosette of sharply toothed leaves, the Coltsfoot flowers bloom well before the leaves emerge.  The Coltsfoot also has a central disk of fertile flowers that look like tiny five-petaled lilies.


The Furry Gnome said...

Spectacular close-up of that coltsfoot! I swear some of the flowers (and things like rhubarb), are already above ground and ready to open while they're still under the snow. Maybe in another week here .....

threecollie said...

Wow, you are so far ahead of us it isn't funny. Just a couple of sad crocuses here. We are weeks from coltsfoot. Great photos!

Woody Meristem said...

Those snow trilliums are really special -- wish we had them here. Things progress rapidly this time of year, every day brings something new.

Wayne said...

Thanks for the update. I should say updateS, since I comment so rarely. (Usually check the blog with my phone, and typing it nearly impossible.) Thanks for your constant inspiration, as well as tips on great places to go.