Archive for Wildflowers: Pink

September’s Best

September’s Best . . .

Composition in Pink and Blue (Smartweed and Asiatic Dayflower)

Composition in Pink and Blue
(Smartweed and Asiatic Dayflower)

The City Still Life

New school years, new sporting seasons, new beginnings all commence as the summer season comes to an end. September, always a pretty time of year, often full of optimism, perhaps these qualities explain why this period, at least in the moment, moves along fast enough to earn the term: fleeting.

The city sprints at the electric pace. Nature, reflected in every tree, pigeon, and squirrel in the urban arena, offers a chance to pause and look and, sure, smell the flowers. The scale will be smaller. Built up areas do not offer much in terms of broad natural landscapes, so a painter’s eye must focus more on the smaller canvas. The untended flower pot, the tree pit, the unpaved edge of a parking lot supports the depth and diversity, native and immigrant alike.

Wildflowers, having enjoyed the majority of the growing season, continue to form random still life arrangements of multiple species in combination even if the sweet pastels of spring may have turned more weathered and tangy. The mid-Atlantic region tends to dry out at the end of the summer except when a hurricane passes through every few years. The sporadic showers that do fall provide temporary refreshment that rejuvenates the color and vigor of the blooming plant. A walk in the rain, then, offers a reflective opportunity to see the best September has to offer.

Nightshade in the Rain

Nightshade in the Rain

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

Jewelweed 09 2014

New York Ironweed (Veronia noveboracensis)

New York Ironweed 09 2014

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

Pickerelweed 09 2014

– rPs 09 17 2014

Postscript: This is the 100th post on this blog! Thanks for visiting . . .

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An April Shower’s Wildflowers

An April Shower’s Wildflowers . . .

A view of Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn captures the cold colors of early April. (photo taken 04 10 2011)

 

The transition from winter to spring really does resemble the way a rainbow emerges from a storm. First, there is the monochromatic gray sky, opening up with wind and water until it begins to thin out. A hint of pale blue emerges, followed by the electrum sun and the full spectrum of visible light manifested by the prism of that same rainfall, now receding.

April 2011 followed this manner of blooming, at least in New York City. A season opening fly fishing trip to Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn was accompanied by the somber colors of early spring. The lake itself was charcoal grey and surrounded by the tan stalks of last year’s cattails and the brown mesh of tree branches just beginning to bud. A week of cold rain followed. The spring season appeared to be as late as the Passover and Easter holidays.

When Easter Sunday did arrive, it turned into the first balmy warm day of the year. The humidity appeared in an instant, bumblebees filled the air, robins and purple finches trilled in the trees, which like the grounds all around town had gone a bright pastel green. The wildflowers, too, had arrived, including . . .

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

 

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

 

Ground Ivy (Glechoma  hederacea)

Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

 

Heartsease (Viola tricolor)

Heartsease (Viola tricolor)

 

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

 

Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

 

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

 

Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)

Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)

 

Wild Violet (Viola papilionacea)

Wild Violet (Viola papilionacea)

 

The first act of Manhattan’s spring blooming is complete. The stage is now set for May’s flowers.

–  rPs 04 29 2011

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Thumb’s Up

Thumb’s Up . . .

Lady's Thumb (Persicaria vulgaris) blooms within a tree pit on West 12th Street near Fifth Avenue. (photo taken 06 23 2010)

The summer of 2010 is drawing quickly toward its conclusion on the calendar. The heat and humidity have begun to wane in favor of crisp days and cool nights. The wildflowers of the West Village are also approaching the end of the growing season. Those that remain are some of the hardier and more common annuals, one of which is the most familiar member of the knotweed family: the distinctively pink flowering Lady’s Thumb, Persicaria vulgaris.

Lady’s Thumb is another one of those iconic wildflowers that has been a part of my own personal outdoor experiences since I was a boy. During my summer vacations, whenever I set out to go bird watching in the scrub woods flanking the city steps of Pittsburgh, or hiked down to the Allegheny River to dunk bread balls for carp and catfish, there was, along the edges of my eyesight, the pink blooms of Lady’s Thumb. The flowers, actually upright compound racemes called panicles, consist of small individual blossoms, which always reminded me of tiny bunches of grapes, set downside up.

Closeup of a Lady's Thumb bloom, actually a compound raceme called a panicle. (photo taken 06 23 2010)

Lady’s Thumb grows throughout the green spaces of the West Village and tends to establish colonies. The plant will frequently take over a tree pit if one becomes rooted and is left undisturbed. I found such a batch sprouting along West 12th Street during the month of June, and the plants continue to thrive there.

This knotweed is a European immigrant, a member of the family Polygonaceae, and its identification is complicated only by one other plant, one of Asian extraction. The deep green and hairless lanceolate leaves alternate along its stems and resemble the Asiatic Dayflower before it blooms. Like the Dayflower, the leaves are edible when steamed and have a flavor akin to spring pea pods. When the pink panicles begin to emerge above the leaves, there is no more confusion, as its blooming in no way resembles the two dainty blue petals of the Dayflower.

She is, in fact, one tough lady. The hardiness of Lady’s Thumb can be witnessed along the edges of construction sites, sometimes even in sidewalk cracks. The plant will grow wherever it finds a hint of soil and can begin to bloom when it is little more than a sprig standing a few inches in height.

Attractive, yet relatively understudied, Lady’s Thumb is one of the last of the summer season’s wild flowering faces. Its presence along the margins offers a positive thumb’s up in the form of its pretty-in-pink blooms.

A tree pit colony of Lady's Thumb along West 12th Street contines to bloom during the waning days of the summer season. (photo taken 09 18 2010)

— rPs 09 18 2010

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