We spent much of the day working in Cathy’s mom’s house, mostly going through things in the store room in the basement. Where many people have attics that are used to keep things that are never touched but which they don’t want to throw away, this house has a large room in the basement with shelves on both sides. The near end, while somewhat claustrophobic, is at least accessible and the Christmas decorations, at least, are moved in and out annually. The rear half, however, is more of a mystery. There are trucks and barrels, some of which probably haven’t been opened since they were put there, as many as fifty years ago. It turns out that some of them were infiltrated by mice while others were not. Those that were are nearly or entirely a lost cause. Others, though, seem to have protected their contents which are still in virtually the same condition as when they were stored.
Rather than show you any of that, however, I’d decided to post this photo of a portion of the clouds that were forming as we drove home at about twenty to six.
Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem)
I walked around a little at lunch time today, taking pictures of a few local flowering plants. I started with photos of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) flowers. They are blooming everywhere right now and they produce a heady, sweet fragrance. They also are, I believe, one of our biggest sources of nectar for honey. I took some photos of honeysuckle vine (Lonicera japonica, which is also blooming now. I went across the street behind my building and came across these little wildflowers. Like the honeysuckle, they are non-native and invasive (they are listed as a noxious weed in Alabama although they are not anything near as invasive as the Japanese honeysuckle). They are star of Bethlehem flowers (Ornithogalum umbellatum) and they are pretty little things.
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
The lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is starting to bloom. This is a beautiful little plant and quite tough. It does take quite some time to get established and it’s fairly expensive to buy but it’s worth having. When we lived in our old house, we dug up a bunch (with permission) from a yard that was being bulldozed in order to widen a road. There were places it was growing up through asphalt. One thing about it, though, is that it seems to want to ‘move’ through the garden. That is, as it expands in one direction, it dies off where it was. So we have this mass of lily of the valley but as a unit, the whole mass is moving. In our case, it’s moving out into the yard and leaving an empty space behind. I’m not sure how to reverse that.
Thalictrum thalictroides (Rue Anemone)
After church Cathy said I should go into the woods because there were some wildflowers that I might like to photograph. There were, indeed. They are rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), a native to eastern North America and a pretty little spring flower. As you might guess from the common name, the plant is quite similar to the meadow rue (in leaf form) and to the anemone (in flower form). It’s a pretty little woodland flower and would be a nice addition to a shade garden.
If you’re looking for signs of spring, you naturally are on the lookout for the early bulbs. As mentioned, the snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) are in bloom. The winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is just starting (although it is a corm rather than a bulb). But if you look higher and in the right place, you might see Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica) in bloom. This is beside the patio at Cathy’s mom’s house and it’s lovely. I grew up with this along the side of our neighbor’s garage, next to our driveway and I have vivid memories of swarms of bees all over it. It’s still a bit early for the bees, but the flowers are starting to open.
Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis)
Just under two weeks ago (see Thursday, February 08, 2018) I posted a picture of the snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) coming up at the edge of the woods around my office building. Now they are pretty much up, even if there haven’t quite reached their peak. When I got to work this morning I figured I’d spend a few minutes with them before heading inside. This time, when I got down on the ground to take the pictures, I thought ahead and got a blanket out of the car to lie on. Last time I got a bit spot of dirt on my shirt and more on my jeans. Today I managed to stay clean. Spring is just around the corner. Not saying we won’t have more snow. That can happen well into March or even occasionally April. But spring is definitely coming.
Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis)
After taking the picture of the sparrow (see previous post) I headed back toward my van to get the rest of my things and go into the office. As I walked along the edge of the woods, it occurred to me that the snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) would be coming up soon, if they have not started already. I looked and sure enough, they are well on their way to blooming. It isn’t spring yet, but it’s coming and I know there are a lot of folks who are ready for warmer weather. I love the early spring ephemerals and this is one of the earliest.
It was a mostly grey day today. It’s still cool but it’s supposed to warm up for a few days. It’s also supposed to rain, so we’ll finally have temperatures above 60°F but wet. On the way home, I was sitting at the light and the large American flag at the Ourisman Rockmont Chevrolet car lot was blowing in the wind. The wind was coming out of the southeast, which is a little unusual so it was blowing farther behind the trees. Usually it’s blowing to the right, out from the trees.
Winter’s First Snow
We had the first snowfall of the winter today and it was quite nice. We got at least two inches although it never really amounted to anything on pavement, which was warm enough to melt all of it. That includes driveways and sidewalks as well as roads, so driving was not a problem. That’s just as well because I had to go get a few things for the bathroom and Cathy went to a bridal shower for a friend. The snow was pretty on bushes and trees and this arborvitae (Thuja) looked really nice with fluffy white snow held in its branches.
Cycnia tenera (Delicate Cycnia)
I went out to the empty lot next to my building this afternoon. I started by going through the woods on the lower part but then crossed the stream on a tree that conveniently fell across it. That saves me a bit of underbrush getting to the open, higher ground of the northeastern part of the lot. This part has only a few trees, so far, and is mostly filled with a thick covering of ragweed with milkweed and goldenrod scattered throughout. I happened to see this little moth, mostly white with a little orange on the leading edge of its wings. It is a delicate cycnia (Cycnia tenera) and is fairly shy. In the other two Cycnia species found in North America the orange or yellow on the wings is either absent (C. oregonensis) or is darker but doesnot extend to apex (C. collaris).
Tanacetum parthenium (Feverfew)
This comes up all around our yard. It isn’t so invasive that it cannot be kept under control by judicious pulling and it certainly adds a bit of interest during a time when there isn’t a huge amount in bloom. The early spring flowers are done and the summer flowers haven’t really gotten going yet. There are Asiatic lilies blooming and the day lilies will be starting pretty soon. The Verbena bonariensis has started but the black-eyed Susans are still a good way off. Feverfew doesn’t have the most striking flowers around but they are certainly pretty enough. And there are plenty of them.