Thursday, May 01, 2008

Trillium Triumphant

I am Flower.
I am Beauty in the River of Time
I bring color for each season
I feed the soul of any who knows me
I live only a short while, and then my time is over
I give Joy to the Forest.

There are two things to remember about wildflowers. First, timing is everything. Either I am too early, and they haven't bloomed yet, or too late, and the blossoms wither by the time I walk in the woods. Invasives such as Garlic Mustard can crowd out the native wildflowers in many places. At Natural Bridge we arrived for the peak of the Redbud blossoms, but also the peak, surely, of both the Trilliums and the Violets. Second, if you want good wildflower photos, be very careful about your depth of field, or get a macros lens. I have so many photos I thought would be very dramatic, but the focus is slightly before or behind my intended subject.

We saw Ozark Trillium, Large White Trillium (which turn pink as they age), Southern Red Trillium and Red Trillium for sure. The blossoms on many bent over, facing the ground. Some had petals with wavy edges, and others had smooth edges. Sometimes the three sepals looked like green flower petals. The flower book mentioned one variety which smells like decaying tissue, but I don't thing we saw that one, which is just as well.

Violets grow in the yards here in Louisville until the green grass is overcome by purple. I did not realize that violets come in so many different sizes and colors. Again, my photos did not focus well on these small darlings, so I'll just mention them. There were white violets no larger than the nail on my little finger - so delicate. We saw some Field Pansy, with petals like violets, but faces like pansies. Arrowhead Violets, with pointed leaves instead of heart shaped, grew some places. The Long-Spurred Violet had a tail, or "spur", in the back. Yellow violets rounded out the color spectrum.

Flowers we plant in gardens have wild varieties we found along the trail, including Dwarf Iris, Wild Geranium and Wild Phlox. We did not see any Lady's Slippers or Jack in the Pulpit. The May Apples were beginning to set their blossoms, but it was a bit early for them to bloom. The Wood Betony with hooded flowers growing in a whorled cluster was something new for me, as was the Star Chickweed. A Large-Flowered Bellwort looked like a small yellow mop, hanging upside down. Perhaps if I get tired of chasing birds around I may take up flower photography. I'd love to go back to Natural Bridge many times through the Spring to follow the progression of wildflower blossoms. I'd better retire first, though, so I can go through the week. There just aren't enough weekends to see everything!

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