Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Celebrate Tomorrow!

Dutchman's Breeches with Virginia Waterleaf
(Dicentra cucullaria with
Hydrophyllum virginianum)

Here's a few spring ephemerals form my last Saturday morning jaunt to the woodlands along the Little Sioux River south of here. The shot above is mostly illustrative, taken to show the Dutchman's Breeches with the Virginia Waterleaf, since they grow together so often. I also like the Virginia Waterleaf because of the nice blotches on their leaves, giving them great interest as a ground cover early in the spring. As these plants get larger through the spring and bloom, they tend to lose their "water spots" for which they were named. The blooms of the waterleaf (will be 2-4 weeks yet) are magnets for wild native bees, particularly our Bumblebees.

We do have a "lot" of Virginia Waterleaf here in our own grove and do encourage it to substitute for ground cover around our warm weather stressed plantings...I feel it helps hold moisture a little longer wherever it shades roots of other plants. But even waterleaf needs good humus and moisture and our place is characteristically mid summer the waterleaf looks pretty rugged; but it's a tough plant and seems to spread more each year.

We also have a handful of Dutchman's Breeches here at Prairie Hill farm but the grove was reduced by about 75% several years before we arrived and is in rougher shape. We are trying to reintroduce more leaf mulch each fall to try and help the dry soil situation there now. The leaf structutre of these little plants makes an interesting shape through the later part of spring, long after the flowers are spent and gone.

Perfoliate Bellwort
(Uvularia perfoliata)

There were a few Perfoliate Bellworts in the timber Saturday also...these unique plants get their name by the way the stems appear to perforate the leaves (not really illustrated here).

White Trout Lily or Dog-tooth Violet
(Erythronium albidum)

Georgie introduced these small beauties to me as Dog-tooth Violets many years ago before we were even married. They grew profusely in the woods behind her home along the Des Moines River in Ft. Dodge, Iowa. I'll be honest...I was not real informed on the identities of wild flowers at the time...teenagers, what can I say! Georgie gets the credit for making me look at the woodland (and now - prairie) floor and I hope I had the same influence on her where birds were concerned!

Dog Tooth Violets take many years to mature and flower. The immature plants only have one leaf stalk, mature plants have two. It took me a long time to figure this out...but when you walk through undisturbed woodlands, you'll often see masses of these small mottled leaves and only a few blossoms.

Tomorrow is Earth Day...I believe it's the 40th Anniversary for this event as well. We all need to seriously take stock in our "p
art" of this fragile globe's existence and not continue business as usual. I sometimes have problems verbalizing issues I care about; perhaps this is one of those times. Georgie and I watched a program the other night on the American experience. It was frustrating to see how political our government always makes things - regardless of what "issues" they are. We seemingly make strides toward a desirable goal, then administrations change and the years of hard work is discarded for the next "flavor". I'll try not to get too political here because that is not what this blog is about...however I do distinctly remember a very positive surge 35 years ago...our first department of renewable energy, serious development in solar energy and wind energy began; even hydrogen fuel cell development began. A farmer that lived 55 miles from Prairie Hill Farm Studio had refused to go on the grid...was still powering his entire farm operation with wind and batteries. His vehicles all ran on methane - created on his farm. Where did all this "progress" go??? Well, the farmer died (of old age), the administration that started the dept of renewable energy was replaced and the next administration tore down that department - fired nearly all the employees and cut it's funding by 80%. Oh, and tore down all the solar panels that were providing all the hot water and supplementing heating for the White House. I won't delve any further because it'll just get muddied and sorted...the jist is "we need to take stock and stand accountable" for our actions and the future of our grand children and theirs!

Three cheers for this planet - planet Earth! Think about it, not just on Earth Day.


Ann V said...

You are teaching me more aabout wild flowers than I ever knew....thank you both!

Prairie Painter said...

You're certainly welcome Ann!