I’m relieved to report that I survived my first annual town meeting as a selectman with only a few sleepless nights and some nail biting. Now that my stress levels have returned to normal, I can again appreciate the spring flowers. We’re eating enormous salads out of the hoop house, and lots of asparagus.
Spice bush flowers
Our spring ephemeral bed is a huge success, with spring beauties and cut-leaf toothwort spreading around the patch by seed. The wild ginger is spreading aggressively, probably vegetatively.
ginger (Asarum canadense) patch
Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)
cut-leaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) among violas
There are healthy flowering clumps of dutchman’s britches, bloodroot, twinleaf, hepatica, and rue anemone.
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ginger flower (pollenated by flies!)
The may apples and trout lilies are not as well established, but everything is still alive. No flowers this year.
trout lily leaf (Erythronium americanum)
mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)
In the woods, zillions of little sedges (Carex) that we haven’t yet keyed out, smooth white violet (Viola pallens), and my favorite, wild oats (or sessile bellwort, Uvularia sessilifolia), are blooming.
Fruit trees are also blooming (just in time for tonight’s predicted frost…) There are a good number of blooms on the sweet cherries, wild pin cherries, and peach trees. The plums seem to be about done.
A lot of people like to hate on tent caterpillars, but they are a native species, they specialize on cherries (and there are plenty to go around), and they are the preferred food source for both yellow-billed and black-billed cuckoos. Plus, in later instars the caterpillars are actually gorgeous. They’ve just emerged and started to make their first communal “tents” in the last week.
egg mass on right
tent caterpillar web
Eastern tent caterpillar
Now, if you want to hate on an invertebrate, I’ll gladly join you when we’re talking about ticks. This year they seem especially abundant. We’ve been finding them chilling on the top of grasses, reaching for anything warm that moves. We’re fortunate that we’re mostly finding the larger dog ticks (also called wood ticks, Dermacentor variabilis), which are easy to feel walking on you and don’t carry Lyme disease (among other diseases) which is prevalent in deer ticks (also called black-legged ticks, Ixodes scapularis). I’ve been “collecting” them by setting out a 5-gallon bucket next to my hoop house; they climb up to the rim to wait for me, so each day I go out and feed the lot of them to the chickens.
deer tick (female)
dog tick (male)
Sorry to get you thinking about ticks. They always make my skin crawl…
I hope you can pause to appreciate the way water droplets collect along the margins of strawberry leaves. And then, consider the fact that in about a month and a half we’ll be eating delicious strawberries!