Spring is Here

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.

You know how it is with an April day

When the sun is out and the wind is still,

You’re one month on in the middle of May.

But if you so much as dare to speak,

A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,

A wind comes off a frozen peak,

And you’re two months back in the middle of March.


Robert Frost

Two Tramps in Mud Time





Spring is Here


We always want Spring to unfold in an orderly crescendo, like slow motion pictures of an opening flower.  But spring is by turns, obstinate and impatient. moving too slowly or too fast.  Cool, rainy weather can keep buds from breaking for weeks; then a spell of hot, windy weather  can bring out blooms and destroy them in just days.  We want to savor each tableau as it occurs, but everything jumbles together too quickly.

Only a few Bloodroot in bloom on April 3, temperature in the 40’s.


All in bloom Sunday, April 10, temperature  80 degrees.

The gold-centered, white-petaled open stars of the Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) appear briefly in the open spring sunshine of rich woodlands, their stems wrapped in loosely furled, large-lobed, kidney-shaped leaves.  As the flowers shatter, the leaves unfold, making a pretty groundcover.  It gets its name from its rusty red plant juices.




As the Bloodroot fades, Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucularia), begin to bloom.  Aptly named, upside-down pantaloons hang from arched stms that rise above the bluish green fringed leaves. Not as fragile as the Bloodroot, the blossoms of Dutchman’s Breeches will sometimes last into the month of May.

More early blossoms to look for in rich, undisturbed woods are three early plants called “anemone”, only one of which is a true anemone.

False Rue Anemone (Isopyrum biternatum) is generally the first of the three to bloom, appearing as early as Bloodroot in some years.


It forms large colonies in low, shaded nooks and cranies.  The white buttercup, 5-petaled flowers bloom above 3-lobed leaves.




Rue Anemone (Anemonella thalictroides) tends to grow in a drier situation, on  wooded hillsides.


The multi-petaled blossoms, frequently with a pinkish cast, bloom above a a whorl of leaflets around a central flowering stalk.



The only true Anemone of the three is Wood Anemone (Anenome quinquefolia). The white or pale pink solitary flower with 5 petal-like sepals rises above sometime wine-tinged, deeply cut cinquefoil-like leaves.  It, too, is most often found on wooded slopes.

All of these flowers are spring ephemerals. They have only a brief moment in the sun, which means they must emerge from the still cold soil, bud and bloom, and attract an early bumble bee to fertilize it; then set seed, all before the trees leaf out and shade the ground.  Its job done, it then disappears beneath the earth for another long sleep.


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