Spring wildflowers: back on track
The perennial wildflowers and shrubs are doing fine despite the prolonged cold snap in April. On April 18th I counted hepaticas and found 149 blossoms on 60 plants at five different locations on the road bank – the only place they seem to occur in the hollow. By the 24th, the shadbush was in full bloom, though it’s not a great year for them, and purple trillium started blooming.
On the 25th, sweet white violets were blooming on Ten Springs Trail, and along the road, even more trilliums were out. Unbelievable how quickly they grow after just a few days of warmth! Long-spurred violets were also in bloom. Sarsaparilla, Solomon’s seal, Solomon’s plume, yellow mandarin, Canada mayflower, red elderberry, etc. have all fully emerged, although none are flowering yet. Round-leaved yellow violets blossomed on the old charcoal mound at the fourth pull-off. I walked farther above the road bank to see if wildflowers were spreading uphill. Solomon’s plume was. I also found a clutch of at least 20 maple-leaved viburnums. Canada mayflowers also were spreading up the mountain.
On April 28th, descending Pit Mound Trail and then following along the stream, I noticed that Solomon’s seal and yellow mandarin were expanding up-slope. At the big tulip tree stump, a bevy of round-leaved violets bloomed and mitrewort along the stream was in bud and spreading. Many small red elderberry shrubs had sprouted and among a clump of wild oats or sessile bellwort, I found the first blossom.
The following day, down near the bottom of the hollow, I noticed that the steep slope of Laurel Ridge was carpeted in the new green of Canada mayflower leaves as far as I could see, convincing me that the ground cover here would be the same as it was on our farm in central Maine back in the 60s if the deer numbers were controlled. The same would be true in the wooded side of Sapsucker Ridge because in the first side-hollow, where the woods was spared by the recent logging, even where the hurricane took out trees, Canada mayflower leaves spread. But I found none beside Greenbrier and Ten Springs trails where the forest had been so badly logged.
Other wildflowers are also spreading despite the depressing encroachment of the invasive garlic mustard. The first yellow mandarin flowered. Many wild hydrangeas were leafing out on either side of the road. I saw more maple-leaved viburnums on the bank before the dark place where, unbelievably, some hepaticas were still blooming. Surely the expansion of so many native shrubs and wildflowers in the hollow testifies to the relative success of our 15-year-old deer hunting program.
© Marcia Bonta