Earth Day 2017 . . .
Happy Earth Day 2017 from Wildflowers of the West Village . . .
— rPs 04 22 2017
Veterans . . .
Wildflowers, those exposed to so much stress in urban environments, may be presumed to have wrapped up blooming activity by November. Not so along the western edge of Manhattan. Cool wet days under breezy white sky have in succession invigorated lawns and edges alike on the island of Manhattan. The lush green beds support a casserole of multicolored leaves.
The gold of the Ginkgo and Weeping Willow complement the burnt orange of the Sugar Maple, the evergreen and yellow variations of the Norway Maple. The flutter of the individual Black Locust, tiny in comparison to that of the London Plane Tree and Black Oak, dry leaves when stiff the size of a desert plate.
My favorites of the blooming foliage include the fiery tones of the American Sumac, the intricate stylish spades of the living fossil, the Tulip Tree, and the full spectrum splendor of the Liquid Amber, the Sweetgum.
Standing, blooming in their way on the trunks of such trees, one can find lichen in full vigor:
Mushrooms like the Amanita reside in the leaf litter:
Wildflowers, the second wind of sorts, numerous veterans, though perhaps plain or small or scattered, bloom now in great variety and number. Goldenrod, Galinsoga, Lady’s Thumb, and the Dandelion all still flower here and there. Others encountered during a run in the park may include:
Chicory, Chicorium intybus
Mallow, Marva parviflora
Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris
White Snakeroot, Agaratina altissima
November Rain, a fine song title, and a pillar source of life for a strong stand of West Village wildflower veterans.
– rPs 11 11 2015
Violet and Vermillion . . .
The late summer harvest comes in swaths of white and gold tones. The drive to anywhere sees fields full of Goldenrods and Queen Anne’s Lace. The view comes punctuated by one detail important to tell. Out there, on the road, and even down here, within the city, New York City, there does exist a general wilt of plants along the open expanses where a vehicle or pedestrian passes. Dry days have been set in a long row.
Near the rivers, the adjacent greens retain a flusher state, a fuller color especially where trees, mature, uncut trees, offer shade. Spots where trees stretch out a patchy canopy buffer a cooler, damper shade below. Along edges of light and shadow one may find the most wildflowers underbrush. Yellow Thistles do bloom through arid, weathered, rose bushes. Galinsoga fills fallow flower boxes projecting from the base of town house windows uptown and downtown. Along the park’s green, other, varied, color combos call.
“This is New York!” one neighbor bellows with all politeness. More mellow is the Mugwort stating the same line in the manner a flower communicates its quiet beauty. When in bloom the wild plant you are looking at speaks for this same city just as well. The plant “I” does live here, just as much a neighbor.
More of what “This is New York!” is, is the city where wind off water shushes through branches, places where the Wildflowers of the West Village reside. A blade’s edge of Manhattan faces New Jersey, offers in scattered portions a green face north at The Cloisters and Tryon Park down to Riverside Park down to Hudson River Park all the way to the very tip of The Battery. Where one sees this green from afar, one can up close find wildflowers in the extended, greater, West Village of Manhattan.
Hedge edges bear sights, life, to witness. Plants bloom in organo-color with a variety often appearing in compliment to Charles Blanc’s meticulous starred wheel.
Purple and Orange . . . Violet and Vermillion
Great Lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica, an American native, shares open space in some number with the annual Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis. Color complements: violet Lobelia set on pedicel attached to a rising stalk raceme; vermillion Impantiens gems hung from thin stems in a more rounded bush of thin leaves akin to Nasturtium. Both, too, do bloom with lobes of three. Great Lobelia’s look like a sharp tongue, Jewelweed’s resemble an ear. Number, form, color set and matched, as the US Open, all played out on a background of aged deep green, summer’s end time.
– rPs 09 18 2015
Taxicabs and The Easter Egg Effect . . .
Wildflower City Firsts With Full Effect
A colony of dandelions as yellow as taxicabs scattered themselves on a browned hillside. Taxicabs, ironic in the color meets Latin cadence of Taraxacum, the official. Taraxacum Taxicabs.
And groundsel, another daisy Asteraceae and an active commuter, stood firm and flush in full yellow bloom.
Bright, warmer than the season’s usual early winter face: January on a Sunday afternoon remained mild.
A foot of snow covered the scene one week later. A sky grey like actual polished lead hung the air heavy with damp deep cold riding a wind that scoured.
Two and a half months of brown, white, and blue with an emphasis on the white has taken another form in the sustained full sun of March. A very few Galanthus nivalis have appeared. Cautious egg white snowdrop heads shaped like ornamental streetlamps peer from leaf litter soaked with snow melt. Puddles in undeveloped areas, lots and parks, have formed shallow ponds of perhaps a quarter acre in surface area up to one foot in depth.
And on Palm Sunday, Passover and Easter just days away, egg yolk yellow spoke an internal smile set in eyes of palest purple: the croci, feral for the most part in fact. City spots here and there overnight decorated with wild plant life: a park corner, a tree pit, grassy curbsides. The random and sparse spread produced The Easter Egg Effect in my own wildflower city hikes set on random and at the speed of meditation.
Spring has arrived in the western side of Manhattan.
– rPs 03 31 2015
Postscript: The Easter Egg Effect, The High Line edition –
November Libation . . .
Shadows long across a lawn otherwise flooded with sun lead to a lone New York Aster in bloom. Light reflected off leaves shines as bright as wine. Foliage, served like oven-browned vegetables to the eye, rustles below a monochrome blue sky. November in Manhattan can approach perfection on a clear day.
Flowers now reflect white for most sighted. Symphyotrichum novi-belgii, the New York Aster’s light purple, makes an exception as does the egg yolk of the Solanum, varieties of Nightshade and Horse Nettle. Tiny nightshade plants often bloom around the uncut rings of turf that surround park trees. Small size may be due to in part to oak tree tannins in the soil.
Richer lawns hold patches of mature pink Lady’s Thumb, Persicaria peersicaria, and the tiny daisy faces of Galinsoga parviflora, Galinsoga.
Seeds set to parachute from tiny globes blow in the walkway edges as do stands of Ageratina altissima, White Snakeroot. The flower heads of this Asteraceae resemble baby balls of yarn when viewed through lenses of enhanced imagination. Rational can turn Dionysian at the sight behind the now relaxed leaves of American Pokeweed. Phytolacca americana stems, exposed, convey the color of Pinot Noir.
Here’s a toast to November in Manhattan.
– rPs 11 12 2014
Still Life Set in a Cityscape . . .
The City Still Life, continued: Ideas or Ideals?
October brings a new, almost kinetic view: warmer colors spread in the foreground as the backdrop of sky, like the temperature, reflects colder hues. Bright, or subdued, autumn’s more visible variety can shift one’s attention and shape it toward color composition. Hikes along a river lined by trees showing ever less chlorophyll have fueled thinkers too numerous to list anywhere but in some form of comprehensive Encyclopedia Autumnus.
One subject: The City Still Life, con Flores, im Herbst (“with flowers, in Autumn”) often pops up besides the trees that can no longer leaf. The stump, the rooted gravestone of a neighborhood tree, low to the ground, overlooked, left alone, or still in line to be removed, centers a wild space that may be encircled by plantains beaded by rain, nightshades gathered in miniature copses, or scatterings of less dispersed species:
Chicory, Chicorium intybus
Mallow, Malva neglecta
Yellow Toadflax (Butter & Eggs), Linaria vulgaris
Conscious tree cutting and removal always depresses me, more for the fact the tree cannot be left to compost where it comes to lay. A green space more sustained by itself by letting it be would better reflect its organic natural history. Spaces may be shaped, that is understandable. May it also be comprehended that a city park curated as a rotating clean slate may not be ideal when applied in a universal, as in monolithic, manner? Stumps add character and the distinctive wild space equivalent of a still life set in a greater landscape, or cityscape.
– rPs 10 07 2014