Easter is early, winter is late. Few flowers are blooming in western Pennsylvania.
This weekend my surviving crocuses opened fully to receive a visit from a honeybee. He emerged with pollen pantaloons just like this bee in Marcy Cunkelman’s garden.
The bees are happy to find flowers this Easter Day.
(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)
Snow again! We are so ready for spring here in Pittsburgh.
The crocuses bloomed early last week but were slammed shut on Wednesday by a low of 200F. Daffodil leaves emerged and paused. Don’t even ask about tulips.
But Spring is south of us and it’s on its way. There’s a rule of thumb that says Spring moves north 13 miles a day.
Here’s an easy way to watch its progress.
Journey North has a Tulip Test Garden website where observers report when leaves emerge and flowers bloom from the tulip bulbs they planted last fall. Many of the tulip gardens are student projects at elementary schools such as Della Kurtzhals’ class at Clarion Area Elementary School in Clarion, PA.
So how far away is spring? At Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC the first tulip bloomed on March 18. Using the rule of thumb, here’s my guess at blooming times in Pittsburgh and Clarion:
- Pittsburgh is 372 air miles north of Charlotte so I estimate our first tulip will bloom on April 15.
- Clarion is about 430 miles north of Charlotte so their tulips will probably bloom on April 20.
This is just an estimate. Actual blooming times may vary. I won’t be charged like Punxsutawney Phil was for “misrepresenting spring.” (Click here to read about the charges made against him in Hamilton, Ohio. The comments are hilarious.)
So while your garden is covered in snow, rest assured that spring is moving north. You can see it approaching on the Tulip Test Garden map.
(photo from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day…
The first plant to open leaves in my neighborhood is always the invasive bush honeysuckle across the street. Though I’m not fond of the species I’m always happy to see these particular bushes green up. They’re one of my signs of Spring.
Yesterday, March 15, was the first time the leaves were green enough to see at a distance.
A year ago the hot weather put us well beyond honeysuckle leaves and into magnolia flowers by this date.
Here’s a picture from March 16,2012.
Frankly, I’m quite happy we’re having a normal spring.
(photos by Kate St. John)
On February mornings, the mourning doves sing songs of love.
The males perch high and puff their throats when they sing. Though they are slender, they resemble pigeons when they do this.
Coo-OOOO Cooo Cooo Cooo.
Some say they sound like owls but those who think the sound is mournful named this dove.
Click here to hear their mourning morning song.
AND A QUIZ! Identify the other bird singing in the recording. His song is not normally heard in southwestern PA in the summer. The mourning dove lives year-round from Maine to Mexico, from Canada to Cuba. The other bird will give you a hint on the location of the recording.
(photo by Dori on Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)
Lots of the trees are bare now that Hurricane Sandy came through Pennsylvania. But not everywhere.
Here, the trees look wintry in Schenley Park on November 1.
But just around the corner the view from Panther Hollow Bridge is mixed. The large sycamore is bare — see the ghostly white bark? — but the red oaks still show off their russet tones. (These pictures are dark because it was raining. It rained every day last week.)
Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, winter comes earlier.
Here’s a picture from the Quehanna Wild Area taken on October 13. Three weeks ago most of the trees were already bare in this part of Clearfield County.
What’s it like where you live?
(photos by Kate St. John)
The maples are changing color in Schenley Park. The weather is changing too.
If you haven’t turned on the furnace yet, you’ll need it tonight. Fall is here.
(photo by Kate St. John)
Have you ever noticed how many things are yellow in the Spring?
Many warblers are yellow — it helps them hide among yellow-green leaves. Many flowers are yellow — their pollinators are attracted to that color.
Golden ragwort (Packera aurea) is yellow too.
It’s blooming now in western Pennsylvania.
(photo by Dianne Machesney)
Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) got their name because they bloom in May.
Last Wednesday, April 25, I found the first ones blooming in Schenley Park. This feels very early but my records on Mayapple blooming times are sparse and unreliable.
The ones in Schenley may be three weeks ahead of schedule.
Perhaps they should be called April-apples this year.
(flower closeup by Dianne Machesney)
This flower never cares if it rains or snows because it never opens.
Toadshade or Sessile trillium (Trillium sessile) has a stalkless flower of three, small, dark red petals that always remain in the closed position.
Sesslie trillium is usually found in clumps because the plants sprout from rhizomes. Its true leaves are papery coverings on the rhizomes. What we call “leaves” are actually three bracts. Sometimes they are mottled with dark spots as in the photo at this link.
Those in the know say Sessile trillium smells foul to attract its fly and beetle pollinators.
I have never approached close enough to smell it, but I wonder… Do toads wait in the shade beneath sessile trillium to nab an unsuspecting fly? Is that why it’s called toadshade?
(photo by Dianne Machesney)