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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bloomers, Wild and Free

Time moved too quickly as my wildflower bonanza day moved toward its. Happily, the day didn't end before we spotted a lemony bellwort, with petals twisted upon itself in a flower hug.  Below, a spent blossom blows with the breeze.
Just a few feet up the hill from the bellwort was a deep red trillium, Toadshade, Trillium sessile or sessile-flowered wake-robin, nestled among the larkspur. 
The sessile trillium has petals that never really open, remaining vertical almost as if in prayer.
Notice that the flower has no stalk. Hence, the source of its name, "sessile" a word which at one time meant low enough to sit on or sitting on the base. Now, for botanists, it means that a flower or leaf sits right on the base without a stalk.  Supposedly the toadshade smells foul, but I didn't think to smell it at the time.  This was a lifer for me, a first look that wasn't printed on a page.
Morning was over and it was time for our lunch. The Mountwood Bird Club members had a special place planned for our noon meal.  I heard someone say we were eating at "columbine rock." I've seen columbine in the mountains but didn't realize they grew so close to home yet outside of cultivation.  All columbines are a bit wild. We should never become too attached to a particular spot for one. Columbines seem to have a free will, growing wherever they feel so inspired, whether it be in a fertile rose bed or in baked clay between cracks of a sidewalk.  I've learned to  accept this wild child where it offers itself. "Columba" Latin for "dove," columbine flies all over my garden. A common name is "grannies bonnet" but there is nothing common about wild columbine. 
Damp, moss-covered rocks danced with red and yellow flowers. Peanut butter and jelly became a gourmet meal in such a setting.
Our lunch time view was shared with a hillside of giant trilliums, many which had evolved to pink, lilac and maroon as this one below.
They clung to the rocks and tumbled over the hillside amid white violets and spent hepatica.
Lunch in Earth's garden, What a view.
I've saved the best until last - Blue-eyed Mary.  People that know me might think I mean my daughter, but not this time.  Blue-eyed Mary, Collinsia verna, is a small, sweet, violet-like flower cluster.

While sighting a single plant is nice, it is nothing compared to what we saw this day. Thousands and thousands of blue-eyed Marys blanketed the creek bottoms and hillsides, encroaching into people's yards.
Such a subtle color, a mass of pale blue, a giant blue shadow across the hollow.  We saw a farmhous where dog boxes housed hounds held to their tethers in small bare circles amid a sea of blue, perhaps wasted on the poor color-blind hounds.
Our part of the caravan was waylaid by a thrush, specifically a Louisiana waterthrush whose song was heard through an open car window.  I hold it personally (birdally?) responsible for thwarting our effort to see the firepinks in bloom.  I shouldn't have been surprised, though. Afterall, this was a birding club. My ill-trained neck refused to look up any more as we tried to follow the elusive bird from branch to branch, catching bits of its call.  I'm not complaining, though. I was allowed to see a Louisiana waterthrush besides all the wonderful flowers. But, alas, all good things come to an end and this was the end of my Earthday frolic. 

I am glad you were with me to enjoy the wildflowers. I was so lucky to be included in this trip and I thank the Mountwood Bird Club, especially my friend Pat for allowing me to travel with them from river  to hill top.
This is all of the wildflowers but tomorrow I will give you a glimpse of the birds we saw. There are just a few as my lens was usually pointed downward.

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