Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jumping In...

Having stopped writing for so long, it's hard to start again. I feel like I have to have something spectacular to say, something more than just that the columbines are in full bloom, and the lilies of the valley. The prairie alumroot. The phlox. The golden Alexander, Jacob's ladder. Shooting star and may apples. Although this is what I need to write, I suppose... Right now, there is plenty to report, though we are sort of in the lull between spring flowers and summer ones. Plenty happens in that lull, though, it's still spring, after all.

In the past four weeks, I started and finished the spring camping trips that I take with students. I traveled to Devil's Lake in Wisconsin and then to Warren Dunes, MI, for two rainy and chilly weeks in a row. (Both were beautiful...) Our front yard has been transformed from turf grass into a native garden and all the vegetables and herbs are in the ground. And finally, on Memorial Day, it got hot. Sweat-while-you're-doing-nothing hot... this, following a 48 degree high on May 26, which tied the record for coldest May 26 here ever! Spring in the Midwest...

School winds down this week for the summer, but we're busy busy all through the month of June. I shall try to be better about keeping data and blogging...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hairy Puccoon

Each year, I look forward to my spring trip to Leopold's shack for several reasons, and one of them is the hoary puccoon in bloom. Its brilliant orange-yellow color, deep as an ocean, is just, I think, the prettiest shade. This year, due to the cool spring, or the one-week-earlier schedule of our trip, hoary puccoon was not in bloom. So I was very excited, the following week, to come across what I though was hoary puccoon at Warren Dunes the following week. Turns out it's actually hairy puccoon, a close relative that seems pretty much indistinguishable to me, but I'm trusting the MDNR website. So here is my inaccurate rendering of its un-copyable color...

PS -- The puccoon disappointment at the Shack was more than made up for by this experience: we were sitting right in front of the shack itself, almost ready to enter, looking at pictures of the Leopold family's journies to the destination in the 40s. We hear the unmistakable, primordial call of cranes overhead. We all crane our necks (no pun intended) to see them... and above us, we see a pair, soaring... with black wingtips and pure white bodies. That's right. Whooping cranes flew over our heads as we sat in front of Aldo Leopold's shack. We were blessed (but not blessed enough to get a photo).

Monday, May 16, 2011

I realize I have been remiss about writing lately, in a time of year when the world seems to change every day. I can make excuses... I have been plagues by minor injuries and illnesses, as has my car. I have been on school trips. I have been extremely busy, what with this being such an important time of year for gardening, plus all of the above.

But the truth? I just haven't felt that much like writing, or taking pictures. When it becomes a chore...

And the world really is changing. I look out my window and see the first lilacs blooming. Just about everything is leafed out... even the oaks and the ashes have leaves at this point. Crabapples and redbuds are blooming. And it is still really cold. (Last week, we had a few days of pre-summer. In fact, it hit 90 in Chicago and the upper 80s where I was in Wisconsin. But that was just a tease, and then we had a weekend that didn't top 50 for even a single minute, and was wet to boot.) At least it's sunny today.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Solomon's Seal...

...unfurls its early spring self at Devil's Lake State Park, WI, 5/12/11.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Few Quick Updates

I really haven't the energy or inclination to write much. I actually feel like I want to draw, but the plant I want to draw is no where near a place I could sit. And I don't draw from photographs, and I don't want to pick it, and it's getting dark anyhow. And so, a quick update on what's happening, mainly for record-keeping purposes. And there is so much going on, I'm leaving out a ton. Beech leaf outs, maple leaf outs, flowering ornamental shrubs all over the place...
First, early wild strawberry.
First, early golden Alexander.
Bellwort blooming (this is what I want to draw.)
Hepatica still blooming... it was the first of the ephemerals in my yard and it may well be the last... although spring beauties are still going strong...
Bluebells are in full bloom and I'm starting to see their color all over.
I used to have these dwarf irises all over my yard, and several large varieties that bloom later. The person who used to live here must have loved them. I have mostly killed them off by neglect. I liked them all right, but my attitude is this. The first year, I'll give you TLC like crazy. I love my plants and am very good to them. The second year, I'll help you out if I can. After that, you gotta be able to take it on your own. I don't want any perennials that I have to care for. This is why I plant native.
But it's also why I have tulips (full bloom) and daffodils (mostly spent at this point). If you're not evil, and you can compete with the big boys, you can stay.
If you're evil, on the other hand, I'll take care of you. This is creeping Charlie flowering. Creeping Charlie is the bane of my existence this year; I hate it. And I am losing the war against it. In other news of the evil, garlic mustard has started flowering as well. But not in my yard! I did win that battle the first year I lived here and have never had any since. I wish it were so easy with the others. I fight buckthorn every year...

Also noteworthy: I have 13 stalks of sweetgrass flowers. Apparently it's hard to get it to flower, so I feel pretty good about that.

OK. It's 8 pm. Is that too early for bed?

Thursday, May 5, 2011


The first -- very early -- serviceberries are flowering today.
Tulips are now in full bloom here.
It is still unseasonably chilly.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


You know, today was a pretty nice day for March 3.

What? What's that? It's MAY 3? Oh, well, in that case...
It was pretty darn chilly. Definitely didn't hit 50 degrees today, that's for sure. May not have crept above 45. The average temperature for May 3 in Grayslake is 60.

Ah, well...

Sunday, May 1, 2011