Thursday, March 15, 2012

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, really just a dusting of snow on the tip of the iceberg

From the top: Trillium cuneatum; Trillium luteum; Cardamine concatenata; Mertensia virginica; Phacelia bipinnatifida; Carex platyphylla

I stopped along the road in Fern Valley before work today. You can see the warm morning sunlight in the pictures. Under the big Beech tree and behind the stone swale there was a lot going on. The whole collection is coming to life and if I'd walked through it, I'd have seen drifts swarms, and swaths of Phlox, Senecio, Dicentra, and lots more.

Many spring flowering herbaceous perennials are technically "ephemerals", meaning they compress the entire active portion of their annual growth cycle into the period between the first warmth of late winter and the leafing out of the forest canopy (actively growing trees suck up light, water, and free nutrients). Others follow that general strategy but may not go dormant unless driven to it by summer drought, being, that is, not genetically programmed to go dormant in early spring, but "environmentally driven". Because so much of Eastern North America was forested, if you were an evolving  perennial, not fighting the trees for input was the path of least resistance.. These are two of my favorite trilliums; I just love the variegation. Hey, flowers are overrated, they're a dime a dozen. I'm just kidding; I love flowers but these tight little clumps of variegated foliage are pretty nice.

We aren't way ahead of schedule for these guys, maybe a week. It seems to be more difficult to entice the natives from their torpor with promises of warm sunny days and balmy nights.

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