In the 5 or so years I have maintained this blog I have been keen on logging the first flowering native plant. Every year rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides) has been the first to emerge with flowers they usually emerge in early to mid April. I was expecting the same hum-drum consistency and reliability.
Not this year – even though rue anemone is surprisingly early – I have flowers on them right now, and they unfurled yesterday on April Fools right before the onslaught of the rain that has flooded and ponded the garden today. This year the First Bloomer cup goes to american globe flower (Trollius laxus). I was totally unprepared for this as the tiny plants wasted no time to put their flowers on display March 23 – more than a full week ahead of the competition.
The mild winter may have pushed for an acceleration of sorts – other plants are well ahead in the production of basal leaves (common wood aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium), red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica). I also have one trout lily that will likely flower tomorrow – it is so close to opening up… I seem to remember having more in years past, I hope they will still emerge despite seeing heavy foraging and digging by squirrels last fall.
In one sun exposed spot foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) is about to bloom, while the same species in a shaded location has barely sprouted fresh growth.
The vultures have been in evidence for a good two weeks, and apparently some ospreys are back, although I have yet to see the pair on a nesting pole down the road. The feathered and beaked displays of spring have come in waves, with different species flocking across the landscape every couple of days. First it was the robins, then the red-winged blackbirds, and just yesterday the grackles were making a familiar ruckus in the trees.
The peepers have been putting on concerts pretty much every day for well over a week now. Music to my ears, but probably causing despair to some friends of ours who mentioned a while ago that these little critters were the bane of their existence, affecting their sleep and sanity… I guess it’s true when they say it’s the little things that will get you.
Of course, it may all come to a (temporary) halt tomorrow, with cold, snow, and high winds coming through on a fast moving clipper.
Either way, time to get out and about! Most of the clearing and planting is finished. I removed some non-native Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonerica morrowii) bushes that were showing their age and wear, and replaced them with an assortment of serviceberry, summersweet, winterberry, and chokeberry. In year 5 of a 10 year plan the yard is shaping up beautifully. While the honeysuckle bushes provided shelter and privacy, they are not ideal – the berries don’t offer much food value to wild life, and the bushes push out native shrubs and kill off most of the ground flora, including spring wildflowers. Morrow’s Honeysuckle develops its leaves earlier than other shrubs and the leaves stay on well into late fall, early winter. This shrub originates from Asia but has been dispersed throughout woodlands everywhere – I often see it along Cape Cod’s many walking trails.