Thursday, May 2, 2013

First Shorebird and Yellow Yard Wildflowers

Solitary Sandpiper at Morris Arboretum. Watercolor by Ken Januski

Perfoliate Bellwort in Bloom in yard.

Golden Ragwort in Bloom in Yard.

Yellow Trillium in Bloom in Yard.

There really is not enough time in the day in late April and May. Between the refreshing weather, migrating birds, wildflowers in bloom and garden chores every day is a full day.

Since we spend a lot of time outdoors we've come to appreciate wildflowers and over the years we've tried to grow various ones that we've become familiar with out in the wild. Fortunately a number of local nature centers, arboretums and such offer a great variety of choices. This time of year it is the yellow ones in particular that stand out. Above you see a Perfoliate Bellwort at top. This was sold to us as a Large-flowered Bellwort but both color and stem-pierced leaves make me think it is really Perfoliate. We're not complaining either way.

One of our favorite wildflowers in Shenandoah National Park is Golden Ragwort. That is the plant above with the numerous bright rays. It is a marvelous combination of colors and shapes in its basal leaves, its stem and its flowers. The one difference we've found between this and the Shenandoah plants is that ours do not hold their deep burgundy stems but instead turn green.

The last wildflower and newest addition is a Yellow Trillium, also called Trillium Luteum. It is more common to the Smoky Mountains than here so only time will tell if it will survive. Over the years we've lost a number of trillium but we keep trying. It is with good reason that many woodland wildflowers are called ephemerals and here and gone before you know it. That makes them all the more special and probably explains why we try to grow some in our small urban yard.

And finally along with all the warblers, quite ephemeral themselves, and other neo-tropical migrants that are passing through come the shorebirds. They are far more subtle than the warblers. But their story of very lengthy migration, often breeding in Alaska, is a gripping one. Once you know it it's hard not to be taken by them. Above is a small watercolor sketch of the first Solitary Sandpiper of the year seen at Morris Arboretum yesterday. Oddly enough he seemed to behave oddly, almost as though stunned. We don't seem them all that often but when we do they seem more active than this one did. Perhaps he was just acclimating to his new climate, or just recovering from one long flight. By the way we actually saw our first shorebird in January, a Killdeer. But since they possibly overwinter I'm calling this the first true shorebird.

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