Wednesday, March 28, 2012


“When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited.”
Today we joined the director of Floracliff Nature Sanctuary for a wildflower walk along the Elk Lick Creek valley, near Lexington. Dr. Mary Wharton was very passionate about the uniqueness of this area and worked hard to educate others about why it should not be over developed. Her advocacy for the land was exhibited by her battles over the damming of the Red River and the original proposal of the widening of Paris Pike that would have destroyed a quintessential Bluegrass landscape. With her help, both proposals were successfully defeated.

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”
In the late 1950s, Mary Wharton began purchasing property along the Kentucky River that she would later name Floracliff. Her dream for the property was to preserve the natural communities and special geological features unique to the area. Dr. Wharton believed that education and appreciation lead to preservation. She recognized the potential for Floracliff to become a center for environmental education and research in the natural history of the Inner Bluegrass and Kentucky River watershed. The Floracliff staff  continue to guide Floracliff by her dreams and beliefs.

"Just living is not enough... One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”

Flowers and fruits are always fit presents; flowers, because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all of the utilities of the world. These gay natures contrast with the somewhat stern countenance of ordinary nature: they are like music heard out of a work-house.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Theodore Roosevelt
When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it,
it’s your world for the moment… Georgia O’Keeffe
People from a planet without flowers would think we must be
mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
Iris Murdoch
Flowers are the music of the ground
From earth's lips spoken without sound.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Metro Wildflowers

Amazed Ent in Cherokee Park
Louisville's Metro Parks system operates five different parks designed by Frederick Law Olmstead - the man who designed Central Park in New York City, among others. My in-law's house had Cherokee Park in the back yard, yet I rarely used it. To me, Cherokee Park was a place my father-in-law confidently drove through to go anywhere else in town. I, on the other hand, became lost any time I tried to drive in it at all. We used to ride horses through the bridle trails in the park, hitch up in the back yard and go in the house for breakfast. That part I enjoyed immensely, but again, my father-in-law was leading the way.

Let's enjoy the sunny hillside
People still love Cherokee Park, and a warm sunny Sunday attracted large crowds of walkers, bikers, children and dogs, but most of them stuck to the roads and sidewalks. Dick and I, on the other hand, discovered some trails through the woods along a small stream leading to Beargrass Creek where we searched for wildflowers, since a friend said he'd seen them in this area last year. I was amazed, since I never knew there were foot paths in Cherokee Park at all. All those people had lots of fun, but they didn't know what they were missing!
Dutchman's Breeches
At first, we saw only mown grass, but down in the stream valley, the flowers popped up, including everything we normally would not expect to see for several weeks yet. When you see the first one, it doesn't take long until you notice that species everywhere you look. Spring beauty and toothwort were the most abundant at first, followed by lovely little Dutchman's breeches.

Yellow Trout lily
Both yellow and beaked trout lily peeped through the leaf litter (but no white ones- we looked)...
Wood Poppy
...with only a few examples of wood poppy...

Fig Buttercup
...while fig buttercup turned entire meadows bright yellow.

So sad, we said to each other. It looks like we've missed the bloodroot since the weather has been so warm. They must be finished by now. Then we followed the trail up along a limestone bluff, and bloodroot were everywhere! It was absolutely wonderful!
False Rue Anemone
Sessile Trillium
On another slope, the trilliums grew in profusion, while another sported waving groups of false rue anemone. Last year I missed seeing the twin leaf altogether since they bloom for such a short time, but we found some today. Even the bluebells, which I would not expect to see for another month, were in bloom here and there.
Mutant Trillium?
As we headed back towards the car, however, we spotted the strangest flower I've ever seen. It appeared to be a trillium with at least 12 leaves when there should only be three! Several examples of this grew in the same area. Is it some genetic mutation? Some cultivar designed by a mad botanist and planted in the park? Or could it be some other flower altogether that I've never seen before? Stay tuned as I send this photo so some of my wildflower expert friends.

Monday, March 12, 2012

March Madnesses

Kentucky is known as a state of basketball fanatics. The fact that I don't care much for sports makes me subject to burning at the stake as a heretic if it were known by those who "bleed blue" (or red as the case may be.) This year, the fanaticism is in full spate, since the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University and Murray State University are all in the national playoffs, AND Louisville's new downtown YUM! arena is the site for the first round of playoff games. I am sooo glad I don't work downtown anymore since the traffic will be terrible!


However, this year, more madness is spreading!  The Weather Channel is sponsoring the Weather Song Tournament where, you guessed it, four divisions are filled with songs about the Sun, Elements, Seasons, and Rain. Beginning tomorrow, you can vote for the songs you like best. Click for a printable bracket (PDF file)  You can also hear the songs head to head, as it were, in case you are unfamiliar with any of them. Although I haven't figured out HOW to vote yet, TWC says your votes will crown the tournament champion, with the voting scheduled as follows:
First Round: Tuesday, Wednesday, March 13,14
Second Round: Thursday, Friday, March 15, 16
Sweet Sixteen: Tuesday, Wednesday, March 20, 21
Elite Eight: Thursday, Friday, March 22, 23
Final Four: Tuesday, Wednesday, March 27, 28
Championship Final: Thursday March 29 (Champion revealed Friday March 30)

Birders don't want to be left out of the fun, so the CornellLab of Ornithology will start voting for the March Migration Madness tournament on their Facebook page, in which 16 of North America’s favorite birds take turns going head to head, throughout March. You can vote for your favorite, and the bird with the most Likes will go on to the next round of the tournament. Last year, the beloved Black-capped Chickadee took top honors, besting an all-star set of opponents on the way: American Robin, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, and Cedar Waxwing all fell before the chickadee’s appeal. This year’s tournament starts with last year’s top 8 finishers and adds four new wild cards: Bald Eagle, Yellow Warbler, Northern Mockingbird, and Snowy Owl.

I've heard of the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, and yes, the rest of the world is bonkers about soccer, but I doubt that anyone anywhere goes crazy like this every March!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Fickle March

March is the time for fickle weather. We haven't had much winter this year at all, and on Friday, the temperature was in the 70's. The Weather Channel torcon rating for Kentucky and Indiana was 9 of 10, meaning that there was a 90% chance of tornadoes - the highest I have ever seen - and the forecast was certainly correct. Tornadoes almost wiped out the small towns of Henryville, IN, (just north of Louisville) and West Liberty, KY, with a death toll of 34 so far. A one year old child was found in a field. Her parents and siblings died in the storm, and she died of her injuries later. Please include all these people in your prayers that they can pull their lives back together again and go on after losing so much.

I had been watching for early bloomers, such as our liverwort, and harbinger of spring. Our daffodils are in full bloom, and the little purple crocus are about finished. Sunday the temperatures dropped, and this morning we awoke to a beautiful covering of snow. They don't expect it to last long, so I dashed out to take some photos.

The birds in my backyard just fluffed their feathers a bit and sang joyously.

Ounce for ounce, I think the Carolina Wren is the loudest bird in the world, or at least in my yard! I had to search to find this small brown bird perched in the snow covered leaves of our pin oak...

...until he flew in for a quick breakfast of peanuts.

Both male and female Cardinal checked me out before leaving the safety of the trees. When it started to snow in just one spot, I knew a squirrel was running across the branches shaking the snow to the ground.

This Downy Woodpecker is one of our regular visitors as well. When you live outside all the time, you can't let a little snow get in your way.

We are sitting with our granddog and cat this week while the kids and Kittrick visit the Florida family, and Bailey was excited to explore the new scents in the snow. By Wednesday, it's supposed to reach 66 degrees again. sure is March, isn't it?