Wednesday Vignette: Curing Myself

I will walk by myself
and cure myself
in the sunshine and the wind.
— Charles Reznikoff, from “Autobiography: New York”



Wednesday Vignette is brought to us by Flutter & Hum.

Wednesday Vignette: The World Bathes in Invisible Light


“Suddenly I know the world bathes
in invisible light, and the times
while we are in love wash
over and through all days, all nights.” — William Stafford, from “A Dream”

Medeola virginiana, Indian cucumber-root, in New Hampshire, 12 May 2018


Wednesday Vignette is brought to us by Flutter & Hum.

May Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

Actual flowers! May, June, July, August, and Sept. are the flower months here in northern New England, and so we begin. Yes, it may get down to freezing some nights, still (and snow and ice may fall for another couple of weeks, but I sure hope not), and we may run out of the house at 10 p.m. on any given night, like a few nights ago, with wads of plastic to cover lilacs and other tender buds and veggies, while the cat screams bloody murder in the house, because, chaos, but mostly, it’s spring here!


The wildness of weeds:

coltsfoot, 7 May
violet with variegated leaves, 7 May
purple violet, 9 May
white violet, 15 May
dandelions and violets in back lawn, 14 May
dandelion with pollinator, 13 May
dandelion with small red pollinator, 13 May
dandelion, so round and sumptuous, 13 May
woodland strawberry flowers, 13 May


Tulips — some are still starting to bloom:

pink, 13 May
orange-yellow, 13 May
orange-purple, 15 May
neon red, 4 May


Tiny checkered fritillaria:



scarlet lily beetles on fritillaria stems, 13 May


Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris):



Lathyrus vernus (Spring pea bush), a great addition to the shade garden and the front garden:



The pink buds of the weeping ‘Jade Red’ crabapple (Malus × scheideckeri ‘Red Jade’) and the ‘Olga Mezitt’ rhododendon are almost the same colour, at the same stage, and right next to each other, accidentally:

weeping ‘Jade’ crabapple in pink bud
pink buds of ‘Olga Mezitt’ rhododendron
pink buds of weeping ‘Jade’ crabapple


The flowers of the volunteer forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica? M. arvensis?and the planted brunnera are very similar:

forget-me-not flowers, 15 May
brunnera flowers, 15 May


The two peach trees have lots of flowers on them this year.



The hellebore are almost finished but were nicely prolific this year, with bumblebees around them the last couple of weeks.

purple hellebore blossoms, 3 May
bumblebee in white-flowered Hellebore foetidus, 8 May


And a few other blooms:

willow catkin, 8 May
carex grass blooms, 13 May
white bleeding heart flowers, 13 May
daffodil in the rock wall, 13 May
quince blooms in the rock wall, 13 May
Mukdenia rossi ‘Crimson Fans’ blooms, 15 May


Here’s more GBBD, hosted at May Dreams Gardens (central Indiana, 6a):
… Late to the Garden Party  (south coastal California, with a glut of flowers!)
Tony Tomeo (Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – zone 9)
danger garden (Portland, OR)
…. Commonweeder (Pat in Heath, MA) with iris, bleeding heart, primrose, fairybells …
Led Up the Garden Path (Devon, England)
… Rusty Duck, with so many gorgeous photos of gorgeous flowers (also in Devon, England)
A Guide to Northeast Gardening (Long Island, NY)
Edgy Gardener (Springfield IL – zone 5b)

Wednesday Vignette: Deducing the Iris from the Bud

Who would deduce the dragonfly from the larva, the iris from the bud, the lawyer from the infant? …We are all shape-shifters and magical reinventors. Life is really a plural noun, a caravan of selves. — Diane Ackerman, in An Alchemy of Mind


Irises not yet even in bud, but lit through with sun and hope, reinventing themselves.


Wednesday Vignette is brought to us by Flutter & Hum.

Early Spring Bloomers for Pollination

I shared most of this list with my permaculture buddies a few years ago. Originally, it was culled from photos taken here in my mid-New Hampshire garden and along surrounding trails during the previous few years (2010-2014), and since then I have added to it.

If you live in northern New England, these will probably be your early pollinator plants, critical for early insects, especially bumblebees; these should all bloom and attract pollinators between March and mid-May.

“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.” ― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine


Wildflowers, Ephemerals, and Annuals

  • Tussilago farfara aka Coltsfoot – March and April, first food for bees. Flowers bloom, then leaves sprout. Invasive.  coltsfootbloomyellowclose2May2017
  • Pansy bluepansyfrontborder20Sept2016
  • Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) Dandelions as important spring pollinator plants dandelionbloompollinator8May2018
  • Common Wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris), blooms from April to August
  • Mouse-eared Chickweed (Cerastium fontanum), April through October, a small white-flowered plant often found in lawns
  • Quaker Ladies aka Bluets (Houstonia caerulea and other Houstonia sp.), blooms April to June, often seen in woods, varying in shaded from white to deep blue bluetsKettlePondNinigretNWRCharlestownRI8May2017
  • Violets violets30May2017
  • Trillium sp.
  • Primula sp. (primrose) purpleprimroseFells25April2015
  • flowers of peas (the vegetable) peaflower14June2017
  • rockcress mayberockcressflowerNRTAndover4June2017
  • ephemerals, including …  Erythronium americanum aka yellow adder’s tongue or yellow trout lily,  troutlilyHHWMA6May2015
    … Epigaea repens aka trailing arbutus,trailingarbutusflowerspinkOakHillTrailsConcord23April2016
    … Claytonia virginica aka Spring beauties, etc.,ClaytoniaVirginicawhiteflowerpinkstreaksWaveHillNY3May2015
    … Anemone acutiloba or Anemone americana aka hepatica (sharp- or round-lobed) purplehepaticaflowerbestLymeHillUVLT22April2017


Bulbs and Corms

  • Eranthus hyemalis aka winter aconite – Feb/March
  • Galanthus nivalis  and G. elwesii aka Snowdrops – Feb to April snowdropsflowersbloomArnoldArboretumJamaicaPlainBoston20Feb2016
  • Crocus – March to April crocusesstemsglowing17April2017
  • Adonis amurensis ‘Fukujukai’ aka ‘Amur Adonis’ and Adonis vernalis (‘sweet vernal’) usually bloom in March (this one at Arnold Arboretum in Boston was blooming in mid-February) AdonisAmurensisyellowflowerfoliagenearvisitorcenterArnoldArboretumJamaicaPlainBoston20Feb2016
  • Chionodoxa aka Glory of the Snow – March/April chionodoxagloryofsnowflowerspurpleKezarLakeSuttonNH13April2018
  • Iris reticulata aka dwarf Iris – March/April
  • Scilla siberica aka Siberian Squill – tiny – March to May bluescillaflowerspinkrhodos9June2017
  • some Fritillaria – April/May – available from tiny to giant plants and flowers
  • Muscari aka grape hyacinth grapehyacinths3May2018



  • Hellebores aka Lenten Rose, usually blooms here in April or May: one of mine, Helleborus x. hybridus ‘Royal Heritage series’ helleborebloomingpurple2May2017.JPG … and another, Hellebore foetidus (shown with bumblebee, photo taken today) bumblebeehelleborefoetiduswhiteblooms8May2018
  • Sanguinaria canadensis aka bloodroot – April to May bloodrootwhiteflowercenteryellowstamenb23April2017
  • Phlox stolonifera aka creeping Phlox purpleflowersPhloxStoloniferaMillMountainRoanokeVA29April2018.JPG
  • Saxifraga bryoides aka Mossy Saxifrage
  • Pulsatilla vulgaris aka European Pasque Flower: Mine first blooms in late April to early May; great food source for early-emerging bumblebee queens, though possibly American Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla patens) would be a better choice in parts of the U.S. where it exists in the wild (not New England)pasqueflowerbloom19May2017.JPG
  • Primula denticulata aka the Drumstick Primrose rockgardenpinkdrumstickprimulainbrookFells7June2015
  • Primula marginata – high alpine primrose
  • Lathyrus vernus aka Spring Bush Pea or Spring Vetchling – one of the earliest perennials, attracts bees and butterflies lathyrusvernusspringbushpeabloompurplefrontyard8May2018


Shrubs and Trees

  • Hamamelis x intermedia and Hamamelis vernalis aka Witch Hazel – blooms February to April … I think the top photo, taken in February at Arnold Arboretum in Boston, is Hamamelis x intermedia and the second, taken at the end of March on the High Line in NYC, is the vernal witch hazelyellowredwitchhazelbloomcloseskyArnoldArboretumJamaicaPlainBoston20Feb2016witchhazelHighLineNYC29March2014.jpg
  • Forsythia (‘Northern Gold’ recommended) – blooms March to May forsythiabycafeWaveHillNY3May2015
  • Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ – zone 5 – March/April
  • some winter-blooming heathers, Erica carnea – can bloom in snow, Feb-April and later … I’m not sure if this is a Calluna or an Erica but it’s blooming in my garden now and attracting pollinators heatherericaorcallunawhiteredbloomfruitguild8May2018
  • Lonicera Canadensis (native fly honeysuckle) – April or May LoniceraCanadensishoneysuckleyellowbellflowersbKezarLakeNH17May2017
  • Amelanchier arborea aka flowering Shadbush, Serviceberry, Juneberry – April/May AmelanchierserviceberryflowerwhiteKezarLakeNH17May2017.JPG
  • some Azaleas and Rhododendrons: R. mucronulatum ‘Nana’ in early April is first to bloom in Northeast; R. ‘Northern Lights’ series azaleas in April; Rhododendron ‘April White’ in late April; R. ‘Olga Mezitt’ is a great one that usually blooms in May (I have it; pictured). weepingRedJadecrabappletreebloomOlgaMezittrhodobloomc9May2017.JPG
  • Pieris japonica (I love these things): varieties include Mountain Fire, Katsura, Valley Valentine bumblebeeundersidepierisJaponicaflowersfrontbed13May2016.jpg
  • some Daphne odora — below is a photo of one blooming in the wild parts of my yard (I didn’t plant them). They flower between March and May.  daphneinfirstbloomcloseandtree21March2012
  • some Magnolia: Magnolia stellata aka Star Magnolia (pictured) in April to May; also Magnolia x acuminata ‘Butterfly’- mid-April to May MagnoliaStellataflowernearlibraryBoston11May2015
  • Lindera benzoin aka Spicebush – April (but it’s complicated:… male pollinator needed for berries. It’s also a host bush for the spicebush swallowtail butterfly. I just picked up two more today that I had ordered from a local farm stand.
  • Prunus x ‘Hally Jolivette’ – an ornamental cherry created at Arnold Arboretum in MA – late April/May
  • Cornus mas (Cornelian cherry) flowers, which bloom before the tree leafs out (shown here with chionodoxa)chionodoxaorscillaandCorneliancherrywithsunlightArboretumBoston12April2014
  • Alnus serrulata aka Hazel or Smooth Alder – March/April catkin bloom
  • Alnus rugosa aka Speckled Alder – March/April catkin bloom – this photo is from mid-March one year (not sure if it’s smooth or speckled alder)aldertreecatkinsclosepinkyellowKHNP18March2016
  • Corylopsis spicata aka Winter Hazel – April, hardy to zone 5, native to Japan
  • Corylus americana aka American Hazelnut – April/May hazelnutbloomwithmalecatkinsNRT19April2015
  • some Salix aka willows with April and May catkin bloom
  • some Acer aka maples somemaplebud9May2013


Here are some useful guides and lists of pollinators for New England and possibly beyond:

Pollinator Plant List from New England Wildflower Society — native plants that attract pollinators, spring-autumn
Pollinator Plants: Northeast Region, 3-pp PDF from the Xerxes Society; they offer lists for other regions, too. Arranged by bloom time.
Pollinator Plants for Northern New England Gardens from University of New Hampshire Extension, 4-pp PDF, listed by bloom time
Native Bees of New England, and some wild flowers they like, with bloom times
Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden Using Native Plants: Eastern U.S., 15 pp. PDF illustrated pamphlet from the U.S. Forest Service with details on types of bees and what kind of plants they like
Early Spring Pollinators and Their Flowers, blog post by Beatriz Moisset in Pennsylvania

Field Trip: Mill Mountain, Roanoke, VA

While away recently for a family funeral, spouse and I took two hours off from running errands, making calls, buying and arranging flowers, delivering food, and so on, to visit Mill Mountain Park in Roanoke, Virginia, on a chilly spring day (60F and windy!). Advertising for the park describes the trails at Mill Mountain Park as “some of the best in the area. The trails feature Roanoke’s highest point — the summit of Mill Mountain (1703 ft.) and the Roanoke Star. This area offers 900 acres of park space atop Mill Mountain, picnic areas, two scenic overlooks, access to additional trails, the Mill Mountain Zoo and the Mill Mountain Discovery Center.”



We first ambled through the wildflower garden, 2.5 acres of land “carefully planned, weeded, planted and maintained by [Mill Mountain Garden Club] members since 1971.” (In 2014, the club used the “lasagna method”, a version of sheet mulching, laying down newspapers and leaves to smother invasive plants and prepare the ground for planting.) Having just driven south 13 hours from northern New England, where crocuses were about all that was in bloom, the sight of spring ephemerals and other perennials already in bloom made our hearts sing.

The entrance, with white dogwoods and pink-blooming redbuds:


wildflower garden trail

First, three species of trillium:

white Trillium grandiflorum
closer view of white Trillium grandiflorum (I think … was surprised to see the pink blush)
yellow Trillium luteum in bud
close view of red Trillium sessile, I think (variegated leaves)
small colony of red Trillium sessile (I think)

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) leaves (the flowers had already gone by):

Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) flowers; lots of people want to eradicate this little gem from their lawns and garden plots as it spreads quite rampantly:


Another ephemeral, Twin Leaf (Jeffersonia diphylla), the leaves only here; Wikipedia says they’re “uncommon spring wildflowers, which grow in limestone soils of rich deciduous forest:”


Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are also spring ephemerals; “[t]he flower buds of Virginia bluebells are pink due to a chemical called anthocyanin.  When the flower is ready for pollination, it increases the alkalinity of the flower, changing the color to blue.” I guess these were almost all ready for pollination!


May Apples (Podophyllum peltatum) were colonizing and blooming. They always remind me of childhood, when I walked a mile or so to 3rd through 6th grades, mostly through a suburban neighbourhood but also through some woods, the closest of which to the elementary school was filled with these every spring. We called them Maypops, which is one of their common names. It’s said that when the May Apple leaves start to flatten, it’s morel season!


This is a plant commonly in flower early in springtime here in N.H., too, if it’s Uvularia sessilifolia (Wild Oats) as I think. But it could possibly be Uvularia puberula (Mountain Bellwort).


One non-ephemeral perennial in bloom this late April was Honesty (Lunaria annua), also known as Money Plant: “Like all members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), the flowers have four petals. The leaves of Lunaria are roughly heart-shaped with a toothed edge. … The easiest way to  identify honesty is by the unique, circular seed pods that form soon after the plant flowers. The shape of the pod calls to mind a coin, hence the name ‘money plant,’ or sometimes ‘silver dollar plant.'”


Another purple bloom, that of the dwarf crested iris (Iris cristata), I think:


This Red-Stem Stork’s Bill (Erodium cicutarium), also called Redstem Filaree, was a new one for me, even though it’s found in northern New England; it’s small, low-growing, and considered a lawn weed:


I also wasn’t previously aware of Primula elatior, oxlip, not native to the U.S.:


I think this is a wood or celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum):


This is a species of Euphorbia, perhaps Euphorbia cyparissias (cypress spurge) or E. virgata (leafy spurge) — I’m inclining toward the latter:


I took this shot of a variety of blooms because I liked the way it looked, and the Plant ID group on Facebook helped me identify Packera aurea (Golden Ragwort — the orange-yellow daisylike flowers) and Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium, the pale purple flowers) blooming.


The dogwoods were fully in bloom in Roanoke, both white and pink!


I had never seen this foliage before; it’s Arum italicum, also called Italian arum, Italian lords & ladies, and large cuckoopint. It’s not native to the U.S. but has been introduced to only seven states: Virginia, North Carolina, Illinois, Missouri, California, Oregon, and Washington. Its “[g]reenish ivory flowers resemble those of its relative, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, and appear in midsummer followed by stunning orange-red berries” (per White Flower Farm). It’s very poisonous.


We saw a bluebird while in the wildflower garden, too, but a bit far away; still, it’s recognisable.



After basking in the wildflowers, we just had time for a 30-minute walk on the Star Trail before prepping for the funeral visitation at 3 p.m.  If I’m ever in Roanoke again, I hope to walk more of these trails; they’re not challenging, if you hike or walk much, through some can be a bit steep, and they are all short — ranging from the .22 miles of the Watchtower Trail to about 1.5 miles, the Monument Trail — but they interlock with each other and the roads up the mountain, so you can create a longer walk or hike, and they are only a few minutes from downtown, though, in fact, it felt to me like the sort of place you might run into a bear. And the views of the Roanoke Valley on a clear day — which we had — from the top of Mill Mountain (where you park), are forever.


There’s a handy sign mapping local mountains in view, with their elevation and distance away:RoanokevalleyviewmountainmapMillMountainRoanokeVA29April2018


The trail map, posted on a kiosk, was useful and seemed accurate for the most part, except that we could not find the Mill Mountain Greenway (inset map) — we walked around for about 20 minutes hunting for it.



Some photos from the Star Trail (yellow).

Star Trail entrance (shows blue marking but it’s actually yellow)
on the trail
Star Trail with yellow trail marking
some of the trail was rock or gravel, some clay, with a bit of washout in places, but it wasn’t a wet day, so no problems walking it
I’m always happy to find Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata), here with a trio of tuffet-shaped seedheads
more Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata) plants — there were lots of them in multiple locations on the trail
Pearl Crescent butterfly (probably) with some damage but it was flying OK
boulder along trail
a duskywing (Erynnis sp.) butterfly
duskywing (Erynnis sp.) butterfly on blueberry buds
well-marked trails
bench near trail marker
Largus sp. (bordered plant bug) on a rock along the trail

Off the trail, we saw and moved this handsome millipede in the parking lot!



Thanks for taking this field trip with me!


All Flowers Keep the Light

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.”
— Theodore Roethke, from “The Stony Garden” in 
Straw for the Fire: From the Notebooks of Theodore Roethke, 1943-63, ed. David Wagoner.


It’s finally spring here in northern New England. I know this because the flowers whose roots have held the light under snow-covered ground all winter are starting to emerge, incandescent, glistening, shimmering.

And none more so than the wild red trilliums (Trillium erectum, also called red wakerobin), just beginning to bloom at Kezar Lake in Sutton, NH today.


The coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), which blooms first and then comes into leaf, shines against the dull oak leaves like scrambled eggs on toast.

coltsfoot, Kezar Lake, Sutton NH, 5 May 2018

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), a member of the poppy family, whose rhizome exudes an orange-red juice when cut, is almost pellucid in petal, its stamens aglow.

bloodroot blooms, some nibbled, my garden, 3 May 2018
bloodroot flower close, my garden, 3 May 2018

Then there’s hellebore, sometimes reflecting light, sometimes seeming to be the source of the light itself .

purple hellebore, probably a hybrid, my garden, 4 May
purple hellebore close, my garden, 3 May
white hellebore (Hellebore foetida), my garden, 3 May

The purples and greens of violets and grape hyacinths (both in my garden) are so welcome after months without these vivid hues.


grape hyacinths, my garden, 3 May

Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides) at Kezar Lake today barely contains its chemical flame — “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower,” as Dylan Thomas puts it — within its whitelight-rimmed leaves, the chlorine gas cast of its young flowers.


Ferns (Kezar Lake today) are starting to emerge, furled, their emerald green glossy with reflected sunlight.



And the loons are back — and too far away for a good photo — on Sutton’s Kezar Lake!


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