Sunday, July 22, 2018

Blue Sky, Blue Water, Blue Flowers . . . and Two Others!

With a clear blue sky reflected on the calm water, the very air seemed saturated with blue as I launched my canoe on the Hudson River on Friday.  And all that azure expanse was mine alone, not another boat in sight to ripple the water as I eased my way along the banks, seeking out what flowers might be blooming this week.

Turned out that most of the riverbank blooms were echoing that blue theme.  It's hard to imagine a bluer blue than that of Monkey Flower (Mimulus ringens), abundant now along the banks.

Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) lifted dense clusters of tiny blue blooms against the dark shadows of the forest behind them.

I could hardly believe that Blue Flags (Iris versicolor) would still be blooming, since they made their first appearance way back in May.  But there they were, still opening their large blue blooms, so voluptuously curvaceous and saturated in hue.

Two species of Skullcap -- Marsh and Mad Dog -- were blooming along the banks today, but the Marsh Skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata) with its larger flowers was easier to photograph.  The white throats of the cobalt blooms make them look as if they were lit from within.

I had to climb out of my boat to check on the tiny blue dots I could just make out hiding among the riverside grasses.    Could those be Marsh Speedwell (Veronica scutellata), I wondered?  Yes, indeed they were! These delicate itty-bitty blooms are held straight out from the stalk on hair-fine stems. Each pale-blue petal is striped with a darker blue.

Some other itty-bitty blooms, but these bore only the faintest tint of blue:  these are Bedstraw Bellflowers (Campanula aparinoides) peeking out from a thicket of Deer-tongue Grass and Marsh Fern.

Not blue yet, but the flowers certainly will be!  There in the center of this cluster of glossy green leaves are the buds that will yield the radiant Blue Gentian (Gentiana clausa) in just a few weeks.  I don't have to worry that the spider will eat any part of the plant, since this looks to me to be a Striped Fishing Spider, a species that dines on fish.

This is a baby Striped Fishing Spider, I believe, since it was only about an inch across.  Its mom could be nearly three inches across.  These spiders dive right into the water to paralyze small fish with their venom, then inject chemicals that liquify their flesh, which makes the fish easier for the spider to eat.   I suspect this infant spider will make do with eating insects until it grows up.

Okay, I admit, this is not a blue flower, except that the color purple does contain blue hues.  This is the Small Purple Fringed Orchid (Platanthera psycodes), and I was quite excited to find it growing right where I found it a year ago.  I bet it won't be there again next year, for orchids can be quite fickle. There are other places I've found this orchid in past years, only to never see them again at those sites.  So hurray!  I am SO happy to see you, you gorgeous orchid, you!

Ta da!  How could I not let this Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) join the party today, even if its color doesn't fit the theme?  This is the first of what should be a spectacular display of scarlet blooms along these river banks from now until September.  Sure, these many blue flowers are certainly lovely, but boy, I can't think of any other flower that could rival the Cardinal Flower for colorful intensity!


Bill and dogs said...

I went looking for Cardinal Flowers a couple of weeks ago but couldn't find any. I suspected I was too early and you have now confirmed it. I love your blog. Thank you for it.

threecollie said...

Love those blues and greens, my very favorite colors.

Woody Meristem said...

Beautiful photos of beautiful blue flowers -- as an afterthought, the cardinal-flower is too.