Tag Archives: spring beauty

An Extravagance of Wildflowers

“There is something classic about the study of the little world that is made up by our first spring flowers—all those which bloom not later than April.”– Donald Culross Peattie

******

The “little world” of spring wildlowers is in full swing in the prairie savanna and neighboring woodlands. Let’s go take a hike and look.

SPMA42219greeningupWM

The palm warblers flit through the trees, a prelude to the waves of warblers to come.

yellow rumped warbler SPMASAV 42219WM.jpg

By an old log, hepatica is blooming in whites and purples. The fuzzy new leaves, which replace the winter-weary ones, are emerging below. Oh, hepatica! You always say “spring” to me.

hepatica-MAPK8-41619WM.jpg

I love the range of color, from deep purple to  lavender to snow white.

HepaticaSPsavanna2017WM.jpg

Close by, the yellow trout lilies are just beginning to bloom. Tiny pollinators are finding them, like this little one.

Erythronium americanum with pollinator SPMASAV 42219WM copy.jpg

You may have grown up calling the yellow and white trout lilies “dogtooth violets.” By any name they are marvelous. The yellow seem all the more special for their scarcity here in the savanna where I walk, although they are prolific in other parts of the Midwest.

The mayapples are up in full force, unfurling their umbrellas.

Mayapple-SPMASAV42219WM.jpg

Rue anemone, trembling on its ethereal stems, is even less prolific than the yellow trout lilies in the prairie savanna. I look for the small stand of it each year, and feel a sense that all is right with the world when I find it.

Rue Anemone-SPMASAV-42319WM.jpg

Jacob’s ladder leaves lace the landscape, while Virginia bluebells look as if they will explode any moment.

virginiabluebells42219WMSPMASAV.jpg

Bloodroot is in full swing, and the bee flies are delighted.

Beefly on Sanguinara Canadensis WM41719.jpg

The blood root flowers last about three days, then the petals shatter. I’m enjoying them while they last.

Sanguinara canadensis-SPMASAV-42219WM.jpg

Most of the Arboretum’s visitors this week are strolling through the hundreds of thousands of daffodil blooms on display, a golden sea under the oaks. I can’t blame them much; the daffodils are spectacular this spring. But my heart is with these spring ephemerals, like the wild blue phlox with its candle flame of a bud, poised to emerge.

Phloxdivertica-SPMASAV-42319WM.jpg

In 1935, Donald Culross Peattie wrote in his Almanac for Moderns of spring wildflower time: “Happy are those who this year, for the first time, go wood wandering to find them, who first crack open the new manual, smelling of fresh ink, and rejoice in the little new pocket lens.”

Beautiful.

springbeautiesMAEW42218watermark

True happiness, indeed. Happy hiking this week!

*****

Chicago-born Donald Culross Peattie (1898-1964) was an influential nature writer who inspired generations of naturalists. An Almanac for Moderns is his daily guide to observing the natural world through 365 days of the year. He advocated for the protection of Indiana Dunes, which recently became a National Park.

All photos this week are from The Morton Arboretum prairie savanna and woodlands, copyright Cindy Crosby (top to bottom): Schulenberg Prairie and Savanna at The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL, palm warbler (Setophaga palmarum), hepatica (hepatica nobilis acuta), hepatica (hepatica nobilis acuta), yellow trout lily (Erythronium americanum), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), bloodroot  (Sanguinaria canadensis), wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata), spring beauty (Claytonia virginica).

 

****

Cindy’s classes and speaking events this week:

Tallgrass Prairie Ecology online continues–offered through The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL. Register for the June online class here.

Tuesday, April 23, 7:30  p.m.–Prairie Plants at Home, Villa Park Garden Club. Free and open to the public! See http://www.cindycrosby.com for specific location.

Friday, April 26--Spring Wildflower Walk, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL (Sold out)

Saturday, April 27–Dragonflies and Damselflies–Blue Line Financial luncheon (Private Event)

A Walk on the Wild Side

“The earth laughs in flowers.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

***

Come hike with me in April as the gray days of winter recede.

P1060291.jpg

On the prairie, in the savanna, and deep in the woodlands, birds sing the wildflowers up into the sunshine. Christmas fern fiddleheads jostle for space among the striped spring beauties.

Christmasfernandspringbeauties41717

A small ensemble of hepatica nudge aside a fallen log.

P1060325.jpg

Virginia bluebells, aided by pollinators, chime in quietly at first…

P1060234.jpg

… then in full chorus.

FCSP41717fieldofbluebells.jpg

White dogtooth violets, sometimes called adder’s tongue or trout lilies…

P1060251.jpg

…join with the yellow to throw their flowery stars across the woodlands and savanna.

P1060315.jpg

Their sheer numbers threaten to distract us from the more timid spring blooms. Look closely. See the subtle notes of bishop’s cap? Such tiny, intricate flowers! They dazzle in their own quiet way.

bishops cap FCSP41717.jpg

Other blooms clamor for attention. The false rue anemones sway in the breeze; little wind instruments.

FCSPFalserueanemone41717.jpg

A single wild geranium appears. You’re early!  But it cannot be repressed. More are on the way. Soon. Very soon.

FCSP41717wildgeranium.jpg

On the prairie, the first wood betony swirls into a whirlwind of yellow and russet.

WoodbetonyNG41717 clearcreeksouth.jpg

A nice foil for the pussytoes blooming nearby, antennae-like on their silvery stalks.

PussytoesTCUNG41717.jpg

Vast swaths of bloodroot strike chords of impermanence; here one morning and then gone seemingly overnight. Did we dream them?

P1060246.jpg

The prairies, savannas, and woodlands flood the world with blooms. Orchestrating spring.

springwildflowersandfernsFCSP41717.jpg

All we have to do to see them is make time to look.

Let’s go!

****

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), whose quote opens this post, was a transcendental poet and essayist who made his living as a lecturer. He published his first essay, “Nature,” anonymously in 1836. Emerson famously asked Henry David Thoreau, “Do you keep a journal?” in 1837. This simple query became a life-long inspiration for Thoreau,  perhaps, sparking Thoreau’s writing of Walden.

All photos by Cindy Crosby (top to bottom) red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; Christmas fern fiddleheads (Polystichum acrostichoides) with spring beauties (Claytonia virginica), Franklin Creek State Natural Area (Illinois DNR), Franklin Grove, IL;  hepatica (Hepatica nobilis acuta), Schulenberg Prairie Savanna, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Schulenberg Prairie Savanna, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Franklin Creek State Natural Area (Illinois DNR), Franklin Grove, IL; white trout lily (Erythronium albidum), Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; yellow trout lily (Erythronium americanum), Schulenberg Prairie savanna, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; bishop’s cap (Mitella diphylla), Franklin Creek State Natural Area (Illinois DNR), Franklin Grove, IL; false rue anemones (Enemion biternatum), Franklin Creek State Natural Area (Illinois DNR), Franklin Grove, IL; wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), Franklin Creek State Natural Area (Illinois DNR), Franklin Grove, IL; wood betony (Pedicularis canadensis), Nachusa Grasslands, The Nature Conservancy, Franklin Grove, IL; pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta), Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL; bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Schulenberg Prairie Savanna, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; fiddlehead ferns (Polystichum acrostichoides), wood anemone leaves (Anemone quinquefolia), spring beauties (Claytonia virginica), and wild geranium leaves (Geranium maculatum) at Franklin Creek State Natural Area (Illinois DNR), Franklin Grove, IL. Special thanks to Susan Kleiman for the walk in the woods at Franklin Creek State Natural Area and pointing out the bishop’s cap.