DOES SPRING BEGIN MARCH 20?
According to our desk calendars, spring begins March 20. In the natural world, however, spring is a progression, gauged by botanical benchmarks. A little taste of spring begins in late November before the new calendar has been hung. The cheerful lion’s head blossom of the witch hazel is a small encouragement that, though winter is on, it will not be without a touch of sun and the snowy white sharp-lobed hepatica brightens our wintery-skied days. Then there is a deep pause as the frigid air sets in (and boy was it frigid this year!), the world turns gray and plants fall silent. This is when I begin to tap my fingers, sigh, and wait not-so-patiently for February, trying my very best to respect nature’s need for rest. But by the first day of February I am usually on the edge of the trail in excited anticipation of the earliest spring herald...trout lilies! Once I see those sunny blooms, my heart is warmed and I am able to inhale the chilly air and enjoy the wait for the rest of the wildflowers in their usual unhurried amble. But this year there was no ambling. Spring came barreling through the door with the exuberance of a school child headed out to recess! Only a few days after I saw the first trout lily flower, I was seeing every kind of violet at once: long-spur violets, halberd-leaf violets, common violets, round-leaf violets and even Canada violets. Now bloodroot and Oconee Bells are blooming in unison with Sweet Betsy’s trillium. Pygmy pipes are wafting their spicy fragrance in the air. Wild ginger has opened up its little secret hidden jugs. Yellow root is filled with joyful sprays and horse sugar is already bursting out. Blue cohosh is pushing up through the soil like little spring dragons. Rue anemone is even raising her modest flower into the mix. Every plant and flower seems to be anxious to be free from the burden of this winter’s cold and I am in sensory overload! The excitement of this rush of spring wildflowers is pure intoxication for anthophiles of all kinds.
Thankfully, a brief cold spell should keep this explosion from being a quick flash. Instead we just might have a nice spring simmer that keeps us all captivated a little bit longer. Happy wildflower trails!!~Tricia Kyzer