Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Marches On

I'm happy to report that the frigid temperatures this past week have done little to stop the unrelenting progress of spring.  Sure,  the cold weather slowed it a bit, after the rapid push of summer-like heat a week ago, but in my wanderings around local woods the last few days, I found little damage from freezing nights, as well as new buds just waiting for warmth to call them into bloom.

In the wetlands that line the  Bog Meadow Nature Trail, new green sprouts are crowning the gnomish humps of Tussock Sedge .

The Marsh Marigold buds are already showing a hint of the yellow that soon will fill every roadside wetland with masses of gold.

Sharing that Bog Meadow wetland, Toothwort is raising its clusters of buds to the light, ready for just a little more warmth to coax those buds into dainty white flowers.

Most of the Spring Beauty plants have tucked their blooms back under cover, but a few little brave ones have poked their heads above the  forest floor.

A sure sign of spring, no matter what the weather:  little Stoneflies are now emerging from clear running streams.

Returning to the Skidmore woods, I hurried to check on the Bloodroots I'd found there last week and was happy to see that their pristine white blooms showed not a trace of damage from the cold, thanks to the enveloping protection of their wraparound leaves.

Blue Cohosh plants had shot up almost overnight, their leaves and flower buds sharing the same purplish color.

Red-berried Elder shrubs held tight clusters of purple-tinged flower buds that are prettier than their rather homely greenish flower clusters will be, but not nearly as spectacular as the brilliant red berries that will adorn the bushes in late June.

Littering the path were these fat red caterpillar-shaped things, the male flower clusters of Cottonwood.  I don't know if they were knocked out of the trees by wind, or if Red Squirrels are nipping them off as they clear their treetop highways of obstructing growths.

The Hepaticas showed no sings of having suffered from the cold, but then, they are well-equipped with furry bracts to enclose their colorful sepals should the need for retreat arise.

I was really startled to find a couple of Long-spurred Violets already in bloom.  Their flowers were quite contorted, however, with the long spur twisted opposite from the way it usually grows.  Maybe it was trying to tell the rest of the flower to head back into bud until the weather warms up for good.


Caroline said...

You know, we picked up cottonwood flowers today too, pretty fancy and colorful. If they are still out when migration begins, they are a great favorite of yellow-rumped warblers after insect prey along the creeks here in the Black Hills.

hikeagiant2 said...

You've inspired me again - to go out and look for things I didn't even know existed - thanks!

threecollie said...

Lovely, as always. I should go up to the woods where we sometimes have hepaticas.

asita said...

I don't know where I could go to find these around here, I'm afraid I will miss most of them this early spring. At least I can watch your pictures!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Dear faithful readers, I do so appreciate your comments, even though I am often remiss in acknowledging them promptly. I like to imagine you coming along with me on my walks.