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.
This year, we had a double puffball event in our yard. When I noticed them they were smaller than baseballs and then were visibly larger every day. Finally B picked one and ate it, after a brief “Alas, poor Yorick” moment, and then there was one. Last photo with a slice removed, to show its solid interior, with the slice like a piece of soft cheese or a delicate wedge of memoryfoam pillow.
I was sitting at my desk when my attention was drawn by sudden movement outside. This turtle had just walked through the yard and when it came to the edge, where there’s a wall and a two-foot drop, it just took a flying leap tumble down to the driveway. Turtle parkour! At first I thought it might be injured, but it straightened its tunic and kept going. They’re surprisingly leggy and fast when in motion. Reminded me of this:
The only actual wildflower I’ve seen blooming is the skunk cabbage, but there are other signs of spring. The herons are back on their nest. And this robin had a bit of a bath! It looked so happy, dunking itself and flittering its wings. A blue jay shouldered its way in and this little one hopped out, but as soon as the jay had its drink and left, the robin popped back in.
The nice thing about a hilly backyard is, you can be lying in bed considering waking up, and still see a coyote trot by.
It went out of sight, and then came back and surveyed the prospects from the front yard, but it was morning rush hour so that road was not crossable. It wisely turned and went to the backyard again and disappeared.
They have their pups in mid-April so this is a time when they’re territorial about their dens, and apparently they are often show themselves more at the this time, just to make it clear to you. However, I think this one was just passing through. I wonder why. Glad to see it looking so healthy. Sorry the woods are less and less and it has to concern itself with things like crossing Central Avenue at rush hour.
On my calendar is a note that in 2012, this was the evening of the first peepers of the year. This year we still have a couple of feet of snow and spring is still frozen out; peepers seem a long way off. I hope they’re sleeping well. Here is a short video by Alert Flowerophile Brian with pictures of the loads of snow we got this year along with the flowers we hope to see again someday (and hidden after the credits, nice snowdog action!):
Look at this bizarre little fungus, like black sausages standing on end. In spring, they’re covered with a white powder (the spores). Part of the latin name, polymorpha, means it can take many forms, but it’s often in this club shape. Belongs to the same class of fungus as morels and truffles, but these are inedible. Common to eastern North America.
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. (This sample is in my yard, an import from the Whitesides garden in Charleston, Illinois.) Poppy family
This is a common weed that offends all over my yard. I never wondered what it was called… until I noticed it blooming! So I had to identify it and it has a rather fancy name: Three-seeded Mercury. I can’t find an explanation of the name. It’s an annual, it can have a two-foot deep taproot, flowers in the axils, it has clear sap, can be a mild allergen, mourning doves like the seeds, deer like the leaves. The latin name Acalypha comes from the Greek word for nettle — Linnaeus thought the leaves resembled nettles. Native. Spurge family.