Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Woodland wake-up

This early in April, the little patch of open space across the street seems still asleep. But the morning knocking of woodpeckers in the tree canopy, the rumbling of passing trains, and the leaf-crunching footsteps of an occasional rambler suggest that spring has started to wake up.

On close inspection, early ephemerals can be spotted popping up on the forest floor.  Clutches of wild Northern white violets are scattered over the damper areas. Why are they so much lovelier than their invasive purple cousins?  Is it location (lawn vs parkland)? Or size (scrubby vs. robust)? Or just familiarity (ugh, another weed vs. native novelty)? 

Northern white violets (Viola pallens)

A bit distant and, thankfully, easier to spot, are several spreads of naturalized spring squills. Not native, perhaps, but most welcome during these chilly days.  Judging from the amount of territory that they have colonized, the first bulbs must have been planted decades ago.
Spring squills (Scilla siberica)
Of more recent vintage are the clumps of daffodils that my husband tends along the road verge opposite our house.  Late season purchases of discounted bulbs from the local big box store, augmented by a spring application of 3-5-3, help to spur these along. Every year that they return and bloom is an achievement given the onslaught of street salt, highway mowing, and flower pluckers.
Daffodil "King Alfred"

Perhaps rows and rows of yellow flowers will someday form an audience, like these springtime spectators watching crew races along the river. Ah, yes, it is time to wake up!

April rowers on the Charles

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