Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Spring Inches Back

After three sub-freezing days with roaring winds, the thermometer inched back up into the 40s today and the winds grew quiet, which tempted me back outside. I figured the cold would have halted Spring's progress, so I decided to head to the trails in the nearby Skidmore woods just to stretch my legs and get some aerobic exercise. I doubted any new floral discoveries would find me down on my knees instead of striding along.  

But the leaves of wintered-over Hepatica  (both Round-lobed and Sharp-lobed) are still so beautifully colorful, I couldn't miss spotting them on the otherwise brown forest floor, so of course I paused to admire them.

And then I did have to get down on my knees to peer into the heart of those leaf clusters, brushing aside the sheltering oak and maple leaves to see if any flower buds had progressed from the furry nubbins they'd been last week.  And look! I found one plant where the bud covers were pulling back to reveal the pink flowers very soon to open. Hurray! Just a warmer day or two, and we will be seeing some of the prettiest of our native spring wildflowers.

This discovery reminded me to check on some other early-blooming flowers with furry buds, those of the shrub called Leatherwood (Dirca palustris).  Thankfully, these shrubs grow quite a distance away from where I found the Hepatica, so I did accomplish a bit of a brisk hike to find them.  Thankfully, I found much less deer damage to the shrubs than I've found in the past few years. So I didn't have to search very long to find branches with budding twigs.

And very furry buds! I've often noticed that the buds of some of our earliest blooming flowers and shrubs have furry buds, as if to protect the tender flowers from late cold snaps like the one we had just this past week.

One of the reasons I chose the Skidmore woods to walk in today was the possibility I might hear Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs raising their courting songs from the various vernal wetlands that dot the woods.  Neither frog needs much open water to start their courtship,  and I did see some open water along the edges of otherwise still-frozen-over ponds.  But neither a shrill peep from the Peepers nor a quacking croak from the Wood Frogs did I hear.  But I bet it won't be long before I do!

In the meantime, I did enjoy some of Winter's leftovers that remain as beautiful as ever -- such as this marvelous cluster of multi-colored Turkey Tail Fungus, hardly declined from what they had looked like last fall.


The Furry Gnome said...

The frogs calling in spring is one of my favourite memories. Once I was sure it was a flock of ducks I was hearing!

Woody Meristem said...

Haven't found a hepatica bud yet this spring, but the wood frogs laid eggs about ten days ago and the peepers have been calling even longer. While hepatica buds have to be searched for, the frogs can't be missed.