Tuesday, May 17, 2011

vindication, ode to a dandelion, and a few new wildflowers

VINDICATED! That WAS maidenhair fern all along. To back up:
I first spotted a new fern that I thought might be maidenhair fern way back here on May 3rd. To refresh your memory (not to mention mine) this is what it looked like then:
Based on what I could see of the Y-branching structure, and the triangular leaves, I thought this was maidenhair. But some time later, I changed my mind when I saw – right next to a batch of these, still slowly unfurling, a fully-grown maidenhair. The fact that it was already-fully-grown, and that its stem was so much finer and more delicate and not so screamingly RED, led me to conclude I was wrong. I recanted here. But guess what? I’ve been watching that batch all along, as devoted blog fans will know, and here’s what they look like today…
THAT, my friends, is maidenhair fern. I WIN! Yay, me! Naturally, I reserve the right to change my mind later.
Solomon’s Seal flowers still haven’t popped open.
But False Solomon’s Seal flowers have! I love how they’re green – as if for whatever reason, it’s not worth the bother of being colorful, or at least not yet. This is the first year I’ve paid attention to these flowers, so for all I know, they may turn some outrageous color. Let’s find out, shall we? I CAN tell you that the berries will be all kinds of fun to watch, as they go from green to gold to red over the course of the summer.
Next up, lily-of-the-valley, in its first appearance on this blog this year:
And now, for the lowly dandelion.
By way of introduction: Dandelion is the first flower that I remember ever really being curious about. As a kid, I was – not being brain-dead – familiar with dandelions. They were yellow. Until suddenly they weren’t. That whole part in between was a mystery – and because they bloom continuously, you’ll often see a bunch of yellow ones right next to a bunch of puffy gray ones and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Eventually, I used my logic tools, as well as the power of my eyeballs, to conclude that they must be closing up and then re-opening. Sneaky little buggers.
So without further ado, here’s one of my time lapse flower specials, in which I show different flowers and pretend it’s time lapse photography.  All of these were taken today.
Not included in this series: the part where this re-opens into the lovely gray seed puffball that spells doom for your green lawn. Why not? It’s been raining, so them’s that’s gotten to that stage have been demolished. We’ll have to wait for a dry, sunny day. 
And here we have a similar story – this time, coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), seen back in April, here
And thus concludes the coltsfoot time lapse.
Here’s the white baneberry (Actaea pachypoda), almost ready to open up. These will turn into spooky white berries with black dots – hence their common name “doll’s eyes”.  Wanna cheat and see what it’s going to look like? This is what it looked like in August of last year. And here’s a question: it seems to me that it’s the same exact plant. But is it? (It’s in the same spot in the shared driveway…but the plant got mauled in an unfortunate logging accident last fall.) How do you tell if a plant is an annual, or a perennial, without just trusting what you read in a book? And without damaging the plant?
Remember the toothwort I found in the mystery woodland? I found another whole stash of ‘em along the bed of a tiny tributary to the brook that runs along the shared driveway.
Yeah, whatever. Except for check out how the innards are getting kinda swollen up. It’s probably all kinds of inaccurate to describe it this way, but to me, this flower’s preggers.
Today’s new discovery: forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides). This is in the lawn. I am telling you: stop mowing your lawn so frequently. You will be amazed at what happens.
On the magnolia front, recent rains have sent many a blossom crashing to the ground, leaving behind partially denuded flowers:
It’s like a ravaged pineapple, or something. The dots are where there used to be those lovely pink stalks – only a few are left at the top. The broad area at the base is where a petal was attached. There are till plenty more blossoms on the tree, not to worry.
Another new species for the day:
Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris). Our lawn used to be absolutely cloaked in this stuff.

Moving In! 029
Our lawn, where the deck is now, in June 2007. Is this magic, or what?
I’ll leave you with one last image: this is my impersonation of Georgia O’Keeffe.
It’s a jack-in-the-pulpit, and I’ve been rude and lifted the spathe (I believe it’s called – the lid, if you will) to get a look at the um, what is that? Oh, the “spadix”.
And in running news, I have finally figured out how to program workouts into the Garmin, which is going to come in handy when I start training for the year’s second half-marathon – I want to finish solidly in the middle of the 2:00 to 2:30 range, and that’s going to require speed drills. And not just random speed drills, but planned out, intentional speed drills. Grrrrr!

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