Spring! Spring! Palm Sunday Passover

Spring! Spring! Palm Sunday Passover . . .

Scilla siberica April 2014.

Scilla siberica April 2014.

An atmospheric switch flicked. Palm Sunday passed, borne up on bright skies, extending a temperature nearly touching eighty Fahrenheit. The wind, at last, was less generous, bringing stillness.

Past high noon, along a fence, I did see a single yellowed bumblebee buzz a shaded Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris). Beauty along a margin, preceding formal plantings, as nearby some nearly pale violet Scilla siberica (Siberian Squill) spread on a backdrop of bark brown soil.

Marsh Marigold April 2014.

Marsh Marigold April 2014.

Farther afield, yet on the west side near the Hudson, the Eastern Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) has appeared. No stinky foot in odor present here to my senses. This bloom, to my eyes, is the actual and sudden appearance of first thick leaves forming narrow green vases affixed to the forest floor.

One of Vases on the Forest Floor. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

One of Vases on the Forest Floor. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

Exceptional greenery became apparent, too, in patches of the Onion Grass chive (genus Allium), found often at the base of trees, standing in thatches at a full state of lushness.

genus Allium April 2014.

genus Allium April 2014.

Shoots! Everywhere!

Eastern Skunk Cabbage April 2014.

Eastern Skunk Cabbage April 2014.

Spring has begun to passover our latitude; at last.

– rPs 04 14 2014

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Anniversary Flower

Anniversary Flower . . .

Common Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, flowers on the vernal equinox, 2014..

Common Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, flowers on the vernal equinox, 2014..

March departs Manhattan’s hills and buildings like a lamb leaning into a strong wind, still chill, under a blue sky.

A single Common Snowdrop bloom, white, brightens a nearby bed of graying evergreen boughs. The sight, a month later than such encounters during previous years. A sign, pictured here on March 20th, a sure sign of Spring starting. The vernal equinox, punctuated by a flowering plant.

A modest anniversary also passed with the arrival of this Spring. Wildflowers of the West Village completed another cycle of four seasons -

Happy Fourth Anniversary, Wildflowers of the West Village . . .

- rPs 03 31 2014

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Oh! Shoot(s)!

Oh! Shoot(s)!

I Wish Spring! (photo taken 03 13 2014)

I Wish Spring! (photo taken 03 13 2014)

Ice has locked up the lakes in Central Park since December and America’s best colors, from my recent outsider perspective, could better be described as Brown, White, and Blue. This combination, stirred by a brisk wind, is one of my favorites from an outdoor esthetic standpoint. Yet, at some moment, it shall pass when this part of the world again warms and goes green.

Oh! Shoot(s)!

Last week, in the process of an afternoon constitutional, which I sometimes jokingly call my urban nature hikes, I found a colony of green shoots established above a bed of brown oak tree leaves. The first sign, followed shortly by loose flocks of robins, perched, or hunting the damp ground.

Spring is less than one week away . . .

e.g. G

Green Thumb
Is Up:

Better than
Missing,

Giving
One up.

A Russian
Winter;

Lost,
In time.

Your
Awareness,

Your
Growth,

Suffices,
Certainly.

From functions of figures
By ron P. swegman, c. 2014

– rPs 03 17 2014

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February’s Freeze

February’s Freeze . . .

The skeletal remains of a lone goldenrod is the only sign that spring shall arrive . . . some time. (photo taken 02 11 2014)

The skeletal remains of a lone goldenrod is the only sign that spring shall arrive . . . some time. (photo taken 02 11 2014)

This morning began with single-digit temperatures despite a brilliant sun shining in a bright blue sky. Snow that fell two weeks ago remains frozen everywhere but the blacktop in the middle of the city’s streets. Another several inches are predicted to fall early next week. March shall arrive like a lion.

Over the past few years I have found snowdrops and chickweed in bloom by this time. Last year, in fact, the title of my post for the month was “February’s Foliage” because green onion grass could be seen. No such flowering this season. Only ice and snow, snow and ice, with a cutting wind on bright sunny days such as today.

The closest encounter with a wildflower I made during this entire month of February was the sight of a single dried goldenrod clinging to a space between the stacked stone banks of the Hudson, which itself has been encrusted with ice everywhere but the shipping channel in the middle of the river’s flow.

February’s Freeze, indeed!

– rPs 02 28 2014

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Afterbloom

Afterbloom . . .

The fruiting heads of asters and white snakeroot edge outcrops of Manhattan schist in Central Park. (photo taken 01 09 2014)

The fruiting heads of asters and white snakeroot edge outcrops of Manhattan schist in Central Park. (photo taken 01 09 2014)

“Polar Vortex” has become the first new catch phrase of 2014. This one has been used to describe the strong and sizable mass of cold air that has twice now swept down from the Artic, bringing with it snow and low temperatures along the temperate Mid Atlantic region. Here, even in Manhattan, strings of single-digit days like those common in the upper Midwest and Canada have arrived along with Superbowl tourists.

This January has not been one of those gray wet ones that allow Common Chickweed, Groundsel, and other hardy plants to flower in protected spots. Ice formations and snow drifts fill the parks and other open spaces where some form of green normally predominates.

I did find one kind of flowering, though. Central Park sports patches of New York Asters and White Snakeroot that still hold high their fluffy and bright white heads gone to seed. These little snowballs sit solidly atop brown branched stems and surround trees and the exposed Manhattan schist formations of the park. In the spirit of coining new words and phrases, I would like to offer the term “Afterbloom” to describe this hardy lingering reminder of New York City’s wildflowers.

A gray squirrel poses above Manhattan schist and a patch of of afterblooms. (photo taken 01 09 2014)

A gray squirrel poses above Manhattan schist and wildflowers displaying their afterbloom. (photo taken 01 09 2014)

– rPs 01 30 2014

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The Christmas (Wild)flower

The Christmas (Wild)flower . . .

Groundsel in bloom before Christmas. (photo taken 12 04 2013)

Groundsel in bloom before Christmas. (photo taken 12 04 2013)

December has, for me, been a busy month filled with moving (more on that story in a future update) as well as traditional holiday activities. That may explain why the theme of Christmas colored my principle wildflower encounter in recent weeks.

This season’s weather has been on average much colder than during the past few years. Most of New York City’s ruderal plants, annual and perennial, have consisted of brown stalks crowned by split seed pods. There was just one species of undomesticated flower consistently in bloom despite the cold. This is the Asteraceae immigrant, Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris).

While the lovely red Poinsettia and the waxy white Mistletoe are most identified with a traditional Christmas, I can’t help point out the evergreen quality of Groundel’s leaves, edged like a snowflake, and the tight golden bauble of its bloom. As far as the region’s established flora is concerned, Groundsel is, to me, the most authentic Christmas (wild)flower.

Christmas Star: Groundsel up close. (photo taken 12 04 2013)

Christmas Star: Groundsel up close. (photo taken 12 04 2013)

– rPs 12 30 2013

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The Elusive Mugwort

The Elusive Mugwort . . .

The humble, yet elusive, Common Mugwort . . . in bloom. (photo taken 10 23 2013)

The humble, yet elusive, Common Mugwort . . . in bloom. (photo taken 10 23 2013)

Ironic is the title. Common Mugwort, Atemisia vulgaris, is actually one of the most ubiquitous urban plants. Unlike its immigrant fellows the dandelion, plantain, or clover – so well known for their blooms – mugwort never appears to be in flower.

The reason for this contradiction is the simple hardship urban wildflowers must face. Park crews and construction workers cut down or pull out this plant before it can live through its full life cycle.

Four years of wildflower hunting in the West Village had passed without my finding a single mugwort specimen in flower. That search, a kind of urban naturalist’s grail quest, ended at last in late October along the West Side Highway. One small stretch of median left uncut supported a large mugwort patch crowned by numerous vertical green capitula. Modest is its flower, even underwhelming, yet it was satisfying to finally behold and photograph.

Mugwort up closer. (photo taken 10 23 2013)

Mugwort up close. (photo taken 10 23 2013)

– rPs 11 27 2013

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