Wednesday, March 20, 2013

spring equinox

Despite the chilly air and the threat of snow, at 7:05 this morning spring arrived on the east coast.

It really amazes me this time of year how fast nature can change. While the other day I saw a carpet of green emerging from the winter ground today I noticed it had exploded into carpets of spring flowers. Believe it! Flowers.

Granted these are all considered weeds in the Philadelphia area, but what does that mean, except that they are really good at growing. I'm lucky enough to live near train tracks so there is a plethora of weeds growing in the right of way.

Lamium purpureum
 This is one of my favorites because you rarely get colors this early in the season. This is purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum). It has such delicate purple flowers, but I love the dark reddish purple of the upper leaves.

Cardamine hirsuta
 This is usually so easy to identify because of the seed pods. Hairy bittercress blooms from a rosette of leaves from early spring to winter. So there are always blooms and seed pods on the same plant. However, it is so early in the year this is the first bloom: no seed pods yet!

Conditions have certainly been favorable for this little plant. Look at how it has taken over:
That's a lot of bittercress

Of course the onion grass has been sprouting up. I've actually noticed it growing for a week or two. You'll see this in lawns or large grassy areas. Turf grass isn't growing yet, so it's growth is very noticeable.
Allium vineale
It goes by various other names: wild garlic, crow garlic. field garlic but they all refer to Allium vineale. It is in the onion family which is why the leaves give off a garlic or onion smell and taste when broken. Yes, these are edible!
Veronica hederifolia
The plant that has really exploded on the scene over the past few days has been this, the Ivy Leaved Veronica (Veronica hederifolia). This cluster is at the bus stop I wait at each morning. Last week nothing was there. Earlier this week this foliage was climbing all over the place. And today? Today it was in bloom! Can you see it there in the photo?
can you see the tiny white flowers?

Of course, being in the city, there are quite a few cultivated flowers in bloom on this first day of spring:

I have absolutely no idea what crocus this is. But it is pretty!

Iris reticulata

There is a tree pit along the railroad tracks that seems to be tended by a neighbor. At least, someone has planted in it and I was surprised to see dwarf Irises. These are Iris reticulata. Probably the cultivar Harmony. I've actually never seen them before, so this is very exciting.

The color is pretty amazing.

My personal favorite flower is the hellebore. This is a photo from my own garden. It is a hybrid variety (helleborus x ballardiae) called Pink Frost.
I spent all of February waiting for those pink buds to open, but they didn't break until this past week. I was surprised because the hellebore is known to be a winter flowering evergreen plant but it seemed to be be late this year. Still, it is so beautiful. And unlike most of the spring flowers it lasts until May.

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