Friday, April 29, 2022

Going To Seed

Walking with Becky has always been a unique experience.  She is curious about what might be underfoot and her pace is beyond slow.  This new small Hepatica plant was her discovery today as I had simply moved on by without seeing it.  It is possible that a from seed new plant takes awhile to establish itself.  In our reading we frequently encounter the statement that seven years must pass for a new native plant from seed to produce a flower.  We have no way of knowing just how many years were needed to produce this next generation plant at this stage of its development.

A short distance away we again encountered this well established Hepatica plant.  Our earlier visits saw a huge mass of pure white flowers.  The forest floor beneath this beauty is now covered with cast off flower petals.  Seed production seems to be underway.  We have never taken the time to search for mature seeds as there is much to do tending our gardens.  Now we are more than content to take leisurely strolls and perhaps learn something new.  We will need to find this group of plants again as the seeds mature.  Up until now that Hepatica seeds even existed never crossed our minds.

Each species of plant follows its own schedule for reasons that remain unknown.  This Mayapple plant is just now sending up its plant parts.  We detected no movement while watching this plant but are certain that it will look different in short order.  This is a sight that we have never before seen in spite of the fact that our woods is home to an impressively large patch of these plants.

Just a short distance away we found this plant unfurling its leaves.  They will very soon be much larger.

Spring beauties have long captured our attention.  They grow in several different places in our forest.  We would like to include them in our native plant garden but their growth habit has to date prevented that.  From what we have read, this plant grows from a pea sized bulb that is located a considerable distance from a flower.  As its growth season is drawing to a close, one must follow the now dying just below the soil surface long stem from the flower to its location.  We have never tried to do that.  It is possible that this appearance on the side of a moss covered stone is all one plant.  There is no indication as to which end is the beginning of the plant.  It seems that a great deal of destruction would be required to locate a small root mass.  So we visit Irma's woods where several huge stones are home to extensive groups of this plant.  Beautiful to see but impossible to own.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Trillium Time

This is a time of year when the pull of our gardens is strong.  A seemingly endless groups of tasks calls out for our attention.  This is work that we really enjoyed doing.  My retirement life plan was centered on our future gardens.  Age has made it painful to complete tasks that focus on the ground and its weeds.  Daily trips to Irma's woods have become our habit.  As a result we get to see the growth habits of these native plants as they begin their all too short life above the rotting leaves while we walk on the edge of a dirt road.

We have caught glimpses of Trillium plants pushing their tightly coiled leaves up into the air guessing at their identity.  Today we are absolutely certain that we are looking at White trilliums.  Showers are in the forecast so this bud's opening may be delayed.

In my youth growing up on eighteen acres that featured wooded streams at each edge of the land, I discovered a huge patch of these plants amongst the trees.  Several stems were snapped off at ground level with the flowers presented to my Mother for Mother's Day.  Her Mother told me that I was killing the plants since the nourishment providing leaves was also being removed.  Lesson learned.  We now enjoy these plants where they grow.

The two Trillium plants pictured here are minutes apart in unfolding their leaves.  The plant to the left is beginning to loosen its leaves from the tight coil that protects the leaves as they are pushed up from the ground.  The plant to the right has flattened its leaves while its bud remains out of sight.  In the upper left corner of the picture, a Bloodroot is unwinding its leaf after the flower opened.  In the center of the photo a single mottled Trout lily leaf means it will have no flower this year.  Maturity is required for this plant to send up two leaves and a flower.

As many as five Trilliums fill this photo.  Their flower display will be amazing.  Leaves in the lower right corner belong to that nasty weed Goldenrod.  Despite is small appearance its underground root system is massive.  If I tried to pull it out, Trillium plants would also be uprooted.  It would then be easy to steal those liberated plants away.  That will not happen.  The landowner's behavioral standards will be followed. 

Our focus has been on Bloodroot and with their leaves unfurling that picture had to be included.  The tulip shaped opening bud is presenting a new flower.  The tattered remains of a flower to the left is perhaps only three days old.  The next plant to the left shows no flower petals but is presenting the beginnings of a seed capsule even though its leaf is only now opening.  It is difficult to understand my fascination with this plant when its time of flowering is so brief.

Two days following writing this post, the flower was found inverted on the ground.  It was intact suggesting that a gust of wind lifted it free.  The good news is that a seed capsule is now forming in spite of the single leaf still being rather tightly curled.  It is amazing just how little time was needed to begin production of seeds insuring a next generation.

This is a new from seed plant in our home garden.  Its heavy pollen load will soon be dispersed and perhaps a seed capsule will follow.  The next generation is the reason flowers are formed.  Their time open is short but they accomplish their mission.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Open Bloodroot Flowers

Finally we can finally see open Bloodroot flowers.  This plant is in our shade garden and we were working there this morning when this flower opened.  If that happened in a moment we missed it.  A pollinating flying insect was seen close by before the petals spread but we have no idea just how long it took for this flower to open.  Its pollen load is massive but it will be short lived.  This may be a young plant growing here from seed since none of the larger older plants have put in an appearance this year.  Our deer herd spend a great deal of time on this ground last year.  A wire cage is now in place but the damage has already been done.

This Spring beauty also opened its first flower here today.  It shares a protective wire cage with the Bloodroot.  That protection may well be responsible for the increase in size of this plant compared with the tiny plant seen here last year.  The corner of the cage can be seen with the plant growing both on he inside and the outside.  Removing the cage now will damage the plant so these plants will remain untended until their growing period comes to an end.  Weeds will undoubtedly be growing here by then.

Three years ago we planted three Sharp lobed hepatica plants in this area of our shade garden.  They are just now making their appearance here.  Many times it takes several years for the transplants of a native plant to settle in.  We were pleased to find all three plants.  Some frost heave had taken place.  We chose to bring in new soil rather than resetting the plants.  This seemed less invasive than essentially digging them up and replanting them.  The fallen tree leaf mulch was reground last Fall.  Is it possible for a plant to look happy?

The remainder of today's pictures were taken today at Irma's woods.  We have been making daily trips here except for being trapped at home by the recent storm.  These plants displayed buds before the storm but some were open yesterday.  That these flowers are short lived can be seen by the condition of the flower in the upper right corner of the photo.  Despite being in only its second day open, both the pollen and some of the petals are gone.  It does not take much of a wind to dislodge these flower parts.  Neither ours at home or these plants show any sign of the unfurled leaf that will be soon be seen under the open flower.

These five plants are freshly opened today.  That can be said with certainty because  we found this quintet days ago and have been making daily visits here.  The color of these flowers is pure despite their rather small appearance this year.  Last year was hard on these plants and that may be the cause of the smaller than normal amount of visible plant.  Larger and taller is how they are usually seen.


These Sharp lobed hepatica plants have been growing here undisturbed for many years.  This is without question an impressive display.

Here are today's two stars side by side.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Another White Pine Hit

We have transplanted Arbutus in three different widely spaced plots on our land.  Each of these and the one wild patch are near White pine trees.  Soil under these trees contains everything necessary for Arbutus to grow and prosper.  One group of plants was placed behind a drystone wall directly adjacent to the lane.  That was our destination today since Arbutus flowers were found open elsewhere yesterday.

This tree suffers from multiple trunks growing close to the ground.  An adventurous lad walked out on one such trunk causing it to break.  We knew that this tree was flawed but still we built the wall and transplanted six Arbutus plants between it and the base of the tree.  For more than a decade all went well.  Then a heavy wet snowfall broke off parts of  many trees.  

That is Becky wearing her pink hat sharing tender moments with Luca, the good neighbor's dog. We are pleased that this white pine dropped its heavy branches without contacting the stone wall or the arbutus patch.  After surveying the damage we realized there is nothing we can do about it today.

This group of plants started out as six transplants.  Two were female with the others male.  Seed is seen here every year but the growth habit of the plants covers the ground.  If plants from seed are growing here we cannot see them since now we can no longer even find the original six plants.  Seed is formed on the outside of a small white ball much like a raspberry.  Ants carry off pieces of the berry interested only in eating the white substance.  Seeds are simply cast aside.  We wanted to see plants growing away from these but have yet to find such a plant.  Without a wire cage, young plants would be eaten by rabbits or woodchucks.

This picture does not show the pink color of these buds.  None of our other groups make pink flowers but these do.  When first transplanted, these plants received water every week that it did not rain for two years.  We also carefully removed all fallen pine needles that were in contact with the leaves.  Full exposure to sunlight air and rain were maintained.  Their survival was our top priority then but now we recognize that these are wild native plants capable of getting by on their own.  Fallen needles sometimes completely cover leaves leading to their deaths but that is the nature of life in the wild.  The wire cage will remain to block out animals that feed on Arbutus leaves.

This fallen red maple branch is blocking use of the lane.  I parked the truck and Becky and I walked under this branch so we could continue up the lane to check the arbutus.  It was slow going because small broken branches  are scattered everywhere. We have along standing rule here that says stop and stand still to look around. The sheer number of broken trees to look at, together with the branches to trip over made this a slow process. 

The ROW users misunderstood the deeded terms of the right of way and involved a lawyer that found me impossible to move.  This fallen branch is totally blocking their access to their campsite at the top of the hill.  The tree that the branch fell from is not on land that I own so I am under no obligation to clear it.  When it is cleared, I will then have access to other places where removing the fallen branches is my obligation.  We shall see just how this situation is resolved.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Damaged Giant

With any luck the power will remain on.  Our first outage lasted for twenty-four hours and our close to needing a  refill propane tank prompted no action from me.  Twelve hours later the power went out again with that outage also lasting twenty-four hours.  At that point we desperately needed a delivery. The Mirabito truck arrived here before lunch.

This stately White pine tree grew along the edge of the river bottom field.  Fortunately much of it remains intact but it did suffer a huge hit.  The ground at the base of this tree features a deep deposit of decayed pine needles.  That seemed like a perfect place to transplant Arbutus plants.


Fortunately the broken tree pieces fell toward the river rather than on our land.  This loss to the tree is enormous but it appears that enough undamaged tree remains to support continued growth.

This welded wire cage protects the two Arbutus plants placed here.  It is designed to keep hungry  woodchucks and rabbits away from our plants.  The tree debris that fell here was limited to small dead pieces.  Both the cage and the plants escaped injury. 

Our first Arbutus transplants were placed further up the hill under a much smaller White pine.  Our normal path to these plants was blocked by downed Sumac trees.  No damage was done to the plants and we were surprised to find open flowers.  Only a few of the buds are open but they created a welcome display.  Age related decline prevented me from getting on the ground to smell these unforgettable sweetly scented blossoms.  Perhaps that will be part of tomorrows visit here.  

Thursday, April 21, 2022

After The Storm

We were well informed that a massive storm was heading our way but we did not call for an early  propane delivery.  Our power was out for twenty-four hours and the generator did its job leaving us with some propane.  The power just went out again.  NYSEG plans to have the power back on by eleven PM Friday.  Today is Wednesday.  This could be close.

Another trip to Irma's woods was made.  Snow was still covering the ground but flowers were found.  This bloodroot still tightly wrapped by its protective leaf is visible because of the adjacent vertical stone.  It looks like it will survive the storm in fine shape.

This bloodroot has partially exposed its flower bud past the protective leaf but the snow has bent it.  We will wait to see if it is simply bent or actually broken.

The moss covering the stone provides an attractive background for the three lobed liver colored  hepatica leaf.  The white wood chip between the closed flower and the leaf is likely from one of the storm broken tree branches.  Many of the breaks occurred high up in the trees leaving long white scars on the remaining branches.

A Sharp-lobed Hepatica flower stem and the partially hidden leaf in the lower right hand corner of the picture are familiar.  However, it seems that we frequently encounter plant parts whose identity is not known to us.  The bright green leaves in the center of the photo is today's puzzle. 

Once again a moss covered stone edge reveals a sheltered plant.  Foam flower is frequently seen in our woods.  Long lasting leaves provide this glimpse of beauty for most of the summer.

Back in our shade garden, the Black cohosh the was a gift from Jane has made an appearance.  No storm damage is visible at this time.  Many more shoots will soon be seen guaranteeing its survival.


This Lungwort is not native but was given to us by a Unadilla neighbor.  Its two color flowers and speckled leaves create an early visual treat.  The plant is somewhat invasive but is easily kept in bounds.

This is a long looked for treat.  Last year this ground next to our Bloodroot planting produced new plants from seed.  The parent plants had a difficult summer and have yet to make much of an appearance while these three emerging plants look ready to go.

This Summer sweet bush was flattened to the ground by the heavy wet snow as is evident by the bare ground.  I passed close by this plant several times as I made my way to the propane tank to see how its supply was holding up.  Shaking the snow from the bent branches might have helped but it also could have broken branches.  Sometimes doing nothing is a wise course to follow. 

Monday, April 18, 2022

Ahead Of The Storm

Typical April days have presented our plants with a wide variety of conditions.  Several warm sunny days were followed by ground whitening frost on two consecutive nights.  Today is presently warm but a wet heavy snowfall is set to begin at any moment.  Predictions vary from 3" to 11" and we are ready to be snowed in for possibly several days.  Pictures taken both before the storm and after will allow us to see just how these native plants handle April in NY.  Three Bloodroot plants show different degrees of releasing their flowers.  Starting with the partially open bud in the upper left, the protective curled leaf has been left behind with the petals starting to open.  The flower in the center is a bit further along with its pollen load visible.  In the lower right a bud still in close contact with its leaf is still holding its tightly curled petals.  We will return after the storm releases us from its grip to see the condition of these plants.

This flower has nearly extended its eight petals into a flat circle.  The small green leaves beneath the flower are likely a wild Geranium.  The larger leaves to the right remain unknown to us.  One of these days we will try to identify the fallen tree leaves since these trees are nothing like the Red maples and Oaks that grow on our land.  These rotting leaves may have produced soil that meets the needs of the Bloodroot plants.  There has to be a reason why their growth here is limited to one small piece of ground.

These two separate plants are possibly displaying good judgement by holding their buds close with the approaching storm.


Subdued light resulting from the storm cloud cover allowed us to finally take a picture of Spring beauty flowers that show their actual colors.  This plant grows from a pea like structure that is located far from the above ground growth.  Without this pea no growth will follow transplantation attempts.  One cannot go for the pea until the plant begins to die back  Taken too soon it will simply die.  Trying to find it later will likely prove unsuccessful.  So we drive across the valley to see this beautiful plant in flower.

These next pictures were taken in our woodland garden.  Our Dutchman's breeches have been protected under a wire cage preventing the deer from simply trampling them into a state of nonexistence.  Even the cage presents a hazard when its removal fails to see a dead blossom breaking stalk trapped in the wire.  These plants will soon disappear from sight when their short growing season comes to an end.  We will endeavor to place name bearing stones at the known edge of these plants.

We have been checking here daily for the first signs of life from our Wild ginger.  Its habit of protecting the top surface of the leaves by holding them inside of a tight package with only the unseen underside of the leaves pushing up through woodland soil.  When the canopy of wide intact open leaves covers the soil, the flowers will open in actual contact with the ground.  These flowers are easily missed as they will be hidden from view.  Roots seen creeping just above the ground are normal for this plant.  We have learned to simply leave this plant to fend for itself.  How much new ground will be claimed this year remains to be seen.  We anxiously await for it to spillover the path defining stones as that will make the open flowers easier to see.

In the center of this carefully cropped picture are the only two Bloodroot plants to have made an appearance in our shade garden this year.  A spherical light brown ball can be seen atop a reddish colored stem with the leaf wrapper close to the ground.  Each day we search for more but so far have found nothing.  I failed to describe the location of the second plant.  Its still tightly wrapped flower is still held close to the ground to the left of its big brother.  So we wait.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Another Visit To Irma's Woods

Last night was clear and cold.  The gravitational pull of the full moon was a factor in the frost that formed.  Today is also clear and cold so a trip to Irma's Woods seemed like a productive way to spend the morning.  A normal person would likely see the ground covered with fallen tree leaves in this photo.  A close look may reveal two deep purple plant stems and possibly flower buds.  Our resident expert strongly believes that she has found Blue Cohosh plants pushing their way above the ground.

This is today's unknown plant.  We will see how much time and additional growth will be necessary for our resident expert to identify this one.

Why is there another photo of Sharp-lobed hepatica here?  This plants sports blossoms with twelve petals but frequently fewer petals are seen.  Just to the left of the center flower, a leaf grown last year rises above the forest floor.  Having seen the first one it is likely that several more will be found.  The moss covered stone adds interest to this scene.

The first common Trillium to appear here sports a red flower and goes by the local name Stinking Benjamin.  Trillium erectum is its proper name but its use for this plant remains a mystery.  This plant is located at some distance from the road but we used zoom not trespass to take this picture.

Memory has it that at one point in his career, John Burrroughs built a shed atop a larger and more level bedrock stone in his woods.  There it served as his writing studio.  I certainly understand the attraction of such an arrangement and have always admired this hunk of stone.  Burroughs also camped in the shadow of a similar stone at the top of Slide Mountain.  Were these woods mine, I would certainly be a frequent visitor near this stone.

This picture will also need clues to find the reason it was taken.  It has always taken Becky a long while to actually walk alongside of any road.  She is actively looking at things that I miss.  Today she saw a pollinator working Hepatica flowers.  By the time the camera was removed from its case, the insect had moved on.  It was found resting on a leaf in the center of the picture.  It is the size of a fly but can hover while feeding using rapid wingbeats.  By myself I would have never seen it.

Good fortune had it return to the flowers.  The large blossom in the upper left displays a dark spot that is actually the active pollinator.


Last year was difficult for both the Bloodroot plants in our garden and these restricted to a small section of Irma's Woods.  It was questionable whether either  would return.  Several tightly wrapped white blossoms were pushed from the soil this morning.  Tomorrow we will return to see both the open flowers and unfurled leaves.  Their time open is limited to just a few days so we will definitely return tomorrow.  So far our plants have made no appearance.  We did have several appear from seeds last year and anxiously await for any sign that any of these plants remain alive.