Velvety leaves in a gradation of purple to green, with orchid-like little blossoms. Called deadnettle because even though it looks like a nettle, it doesn’t sting like a nettle. Apparently the flowers, leaves and stems are edible, raw, cooked or dried. Mint family. Native to Europe and Asia.
Purple Deadnettle, Red Deadnettle, Purple Archangel (Lamium purpureum)
This is a wildflower I admired in the garden of Dr. Wesley Whiteside, and he gave it to me. What a generous plantlover, sowing his spectacular garden into other people’s modest yards… (Shot April 23.)
It looks like a perfect little lotus or water lily. More common: the single version, below. A “spring ephemeral.” Has only basal leaves which wrap around the flower stalk as it begins to bloom. Then the leaves open fully as the flower withers. The flowers bloom only one or two days each, with a fragrant scent. The foliage contains a red juice (which was used by native people to make dye). It’s toxic and usually avoided by herbivores. Native to eastern North America. Poppy family.
The first showy spring flower was Lesser Celandine. (Shot April 20.) There is an occasional brook at Centennial Park in Wellesley, MA, that is enough moisture in this bit of dry valley that a big field of yellow erupts there in spring.
The blossoms follow the sun during the day and close in cloudy or cold weather. The name Celandine is derived from the Greek word for swallow (chelidon), because the early flowering time was also when the swallows arrived (and the flowers faded when they left). It is not native, found throughout Europe and west Asia. Eight petals and leaves that resemble wild ginger. Don’t eat it: “Unsafe in any quantity.” Buttercup family.
It was a mild winter. The skunk cabbage seemed to just survive the snow, with frost-blackened tips. In early April, creatures were waking up. Here, a skunk cabbage hood (spathe) showing the spadix inside (the flower head).
Also a garter snake adventuring, and best of all, there were a glorious few days of peepers. When I recorded this, they were so loud, and there were so many layers of sound, and individual voices. Wonderful. Not long after this, we had a spate of severe cold and snow and the peepers were noticeably quiet.