Monday, July 22, 2013

Phenology: Storms and Flowers

Some plants like wet weather better than others. While fire blight is ravaging local pawpaw and buckeye and other small fruit trees (waaail!), some trees and flowers are blooming as they've not bloomed for thirty or forty years.

Let's see...in May there were the locust trees, a species that's often suffered so many losses from fungus blight that people have thought it was going extinct, but this year they even bloomed again. I remember seeing young locust trees growing, as a child, but they didn't survive long enough to bloom. My father remembered seeing lots of mature locust trees in bloom but never thought I'd see that sight in Virginia--wasn't sure I was reporting it correctly when I told him I'd seen it in Maryland.

In June the mimosas started blooming profusely, and they're still blooming profusely. Interesting to note that the color usually associated with mimosas is yellow, but the fluffy, feathery-looking mimosa blossoms we see in Gate City are pink.

In most years the dayflowers and ladies-thumbs that count as "grass" in the Cat Sanctuary's front yard bloom in June. Last year they hardly bloomed at all--apparently for lack of sun. This year some of them got enough sun to start blooming just last week.

Lilies of all kinds also bloomed profusely this spring, some species starting in May, some in June, and the wild daylilies near the Cat Sanctuary starting only over this weekend. I don't think I've ever seen so many lilies, or such tall ones...even yucca lilies and lilies-of-the-valley, which are technically in different families, have outdone themselves this year. (The color associated with lilies is white, and many of the cultivated species are white. The ones most likely to go feral in Scott County, Virginia, are a rather lurid shade of orange, with brown freckles.)

And chicory...in July and August the shoulders of roads and other barren spots normally show chicory, but I've never seen it bloom so profusely before. Chicory is normally a stalky, scrubby-looking weed with only a few pale blue-grey blossoms that open only in the morning, not a great aesthetic enhancement to a landscape, but this year, along Route 23 in the mornings, the blossoms look like little clouds of light clear blue.

Many other flowers that are currently flourishing are the kind that had to be planted and cultivated at first, but are now naturalized citizens of Scott County...sunflowers, myrtle, Rose of Sharon, magnolia, and a lady who moved up from South Carolina has introduced jasmine.

Yesterday I found time in between thunderstorms to enjoy, then yank up, a summer-blooming Bidens. Queen Anne's Lace, fleabane daisies, and foxgloves are still blooming.