Archive for Wildflowers: Red

American for French

American for French . . .

 

A NYC daily newspaper headline stated the fact:AGAIN. Here today this American’s Red, White, and Blue supports the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.

 

BLUE Chickory 07 2016

BLEU (Chichorium intybus 07 2016)

 

WHITE Catalpa 06 2016

WHITE (Catalpa speciosa NYC 07 2016)

 

ROUGE Duo Sumac 07 2016

ROUGE (Rhus glabra 07 2016)

— rPs 07 15 2016

Leave a Comment

Second Half Fireworks

Second Half Fireworks . . .

 

Sumac Candle Panicle NYC 07 2016

Candle Flame: Sumac, genus Rhus, begins to bloom. (NYC 07 10 2016)

 

Again my head turns toward the Sumac. The flowering tree’s form has by its distinction in Autumn and Winter been visited before. Trees that flower and fruit are the largest of the Wildflowers of the West Village in scale. The dimensions of their blooms, often in multitudes, remains modest, gives scent, sweet aroma, to the watered cleansed air flowing off the Hudson.  Genus Rhus by its panicles stands on a pinnacle point within the five boroughs.

July begins the second half of the calendar year. The candle flame panicles of the Sumac catch fire in step with the traditional fireworks at the start of month. Army green trees in a blink flame on with a rich blend of reds. Trees from a distance advertise their berries. The panicles from that vantage look like berry dots across fixed fields of green. “Berries Offered Here” the message seems to say. Many of Manhattan’s birds, native American Robin and immigrant European Starling, feast here. So may humanity. The spikes, or panicles, will evolve by Autumn into ripe dense clusters of russet berries capable of a fine brewed cold press beverage.

 

Sumac Rhus NYC 07 2016

“Berries Offered Here” (NYC 07 2016)

 

For now, though, that beverage is something best served with, or as, ice. Hot summer for the wildflowers and their appreciators has arrived: the fires of July.

– rPs 07 11 2016

Leave a Comment

An “Irish Spring”

An “Irish Spring” . . .

(photo taken 03 16 2012)

I discovered a pot of wildflower gold on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. Surrounding the base of a tree beside the bike path along the West Side Highway, I found an Irish spring mix of Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum), white Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), and blue Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica), blooming together.

The trees are bare, though budding; the ground is spongy, beginning to turn verdant. In this environment, the diminutive wildflowers of the early season are a refreshing sign of life renewing on the cusp of spring.

Breathe deeply . . .

(photo taken 03 16 2012)

– rPs 03 17 2012

Leave a Comment

More February Wildflowers

More February Wildflowers . . .

I thought I would take advantage of Leap Day 2012 to squeeze in one more post for the month of February. The past four weeks have remained damp and cool, rather than cold, making the green spaces of the West Village resemble tundra. The park grass is spongy, close cropped, yet green, and along the edges a variety of hardy wildflower species can be found, low to the ground, in bloom . . .

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

(photo taken 02 19 2012)

Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

Feral Croci (Crocus vernus)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

And, in my own courtyard, a few Common Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)

(photo taken 02 23 2012)

– rPs 02 29 2012

Leave a Comment

The Symmetry of the Sumac

The Symmetry of the Sumac . . .

Symmetrical branches of Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra, reach up toward a gray January sky along the High Line. (photo taken 01 13 2012)

A gray windy day in January is one of the few times one can find solitude on the High Line. During a walk there this week, I found time to watch and to listen to this outdoor space on its own, without the hum and hover of humanity.

I perceived that there must be as many varieties of brown in January as there are green in June. The wind sounding through the dry stalks and branches contained as many subtle tones as the murmur of multiple conversations. What stood out the most to me was found in the basic forms of the plants. The skeleton, the architecture, of a flower, shrub, or tree is delineated at this time of year. One of the most impressive examples of such naked form can be seen in the Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra.

A native shrub family, Anacardiaceae, found throughout the eastern United States, the sumacs are known more for their summer and autumn dress: the feathery, serrated, compound leaves that turn crimson in October. The Smooth Sumac commonly forms colonies from its root system, often along roads and railways, making its appearance on the High Line both appropriate as well as aesthetically pleasing.

The Smooth Sumac is also one of the most distinctive flowering trees. The large upright panicles are the color of rich Chianti. These clusters of drupes (seeded fruits) are edible, and can be picked and soaked in cool water to make a refreshing sumac-ade. One recipe for “Wild Smooth Sumac-ade” was described by the Staten Island nature writer Ava Chin in her “Urban Forager” column for The New York Times.

The dense, upright panicles of Smooth Sumac can last throughout the winter. (photo taken 01 13 2012)

A group of panicles silhouetted against the leaden sky caught my eye, gave me inspiration and a subject for a winter wildflower. I paused in the wind, which was making whitecaps on the steel-colored Hudson in the background, and there I contemplated the forms of the Smooth Sumac branches. I was delighted by the symmetry of the tips, which spread like the pointed fingers of an open hand. I noticed also that the branches did not just spread opposite and parallel, like arms and hands. The fingered projections themselves were twisted and bent in the exact same manner as well.

The Classical orders of architecture, the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian being basic examples, were derived by the Greeks and Romans from organic forms. The Smooth Sumac, in winter, reminded me that humanity with its mathematics does not possess a monopoly on graceful, even symmetrical, functional form.

Fodder for natural philosophical thought as the annual and perennial wildflowers hibernate.

"Hand" over the High Line. (photo taken 01 13 2012)

— rPs 01 13 2012

Postscript: Ava Chin’s recipe for “Wild Smooth Sumac-ade” can be found by following this link:

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/04/urban-forager-shrubbery-you-can-drink/

Leave a Comment

Red, White, and Blooms

Red, White, and Blooms . . .

Today is the Fourth of July, 2011: Independence Day; the 235th birthday of the United States of America. Wildflowers of the West Village would like to celebrate the holiday with three local flowers, each sporting one of the nation’s three patriotic primary colors.

Red Clover (Trifolium pretense)

Red Clover (photo taken 06 2011)

Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

Field Bindweed (photo taken 06 2011)

Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis)

Asiatic Dayflower (photo taken 06 2011)

– rPs 07 04 2011

Comments (1)

Bloomsday 2011

Bloomsday 2011 . . .

Wild Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, blooms in Central Park on . . . Bloomsday, of course. (photo taken 06 16 2011)

Today, June 16th, is Bloomsday, the date into which all the Dublin world of the character Leopold Bloom was condensed in the novel Ulysses by James Joyce.

Last year I wrote an extensive essay that ties together all the threads of meaning this literary holiday holds for me as a writer. Here is the link for further reading:

https://wildflowersofthewestvillage.com/2010/06/16/bloomsday/

During my years in Philadelphia, I spent Bloomsday in and around the Rosenbach Museum & Library, which has the original handwritten manuscript of the novel in its extensive holdings. Every June 16th, rain or shine, the 2000 block of Delancey Place becomes a gentile gathering place for fans, and lovers, of the novel. There, on the Rosenbach’s stoop, the novel is read aloud with musical interludes culled from the text. Various celebrities, literary and otherwise, take turns reading passages from the big good book. I had the pleasure to do so on the 100th anniversary year, 2004. The placard placed in front of the microphone as I read my script listed me as:

ron P. swegman

Angler & Author

This moment in the literary limelight still makes me smile. Squeezed between Mister Mayor and Madame University President was this “Angler & Author” fellow who read the “Proteus” section of Ulysses with an ear for the complex cadence of Joyce’s prose. Who was he? Well, at that time, he was the author of the forthcoming collection of stories Philadelphia on the Fly.

This year, as a New Yorker, the “work-in-progress” is Wildflowers of the West Village. I spent this Bloomsday to that end in Central Park. I first fly fished at Harlem Meer where the purple pickerel weed was in full flower. I next hiked through the North Woods, down through the heart of the park, around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, finishing up at Columbus Circle. Seven plus hours of shoe leather in total; kind of like Joyce’s own epic wanderer.

The star bloom on this day turned out to be Wild Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, a member of the family Ranunculaceae (Joyce would probably appreciate my generous use of the Latin). This pretty flower is a native perennial, fond of woodlands (where I found the plants I photographed), and one of the more delicate red wildflowers to be found near the cusp of spring and summer.

Happy Bloomsday . . .

Closeup view of the distinctive bell-shaped bloom of Wild Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis. (photo taken 06 16 2011)

– rPs 06 16 2011

Postscript: Visit the Rosenbach Museum & Library online here: http://www.rosenbach.org/

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »