Posts Tagged Osmunda cinnamomea

Current Bloomers

Iris ‘Batik’

This accelerated spring — with the occasional blasts of arctic air thrown in for fun — has made it difficult for me to keep up with everything blooming in my yard. I’ve missed showing you quite a few deciduous azaleas, for example, but I showed them all to you last year, when they politely bloomed mostly one at a time, so search on deciduous azaleas within this blog if you want to see what they look like.

We went down to 32 degrees at my house this morning. Last week, we dove to 28. Most of the flowers survived, but I am sad to say that my Magnolia ashei was most definitely a casualty this year.

Current bloomers that have weathered the weather include:

Tradescantia x andersoniana ‘Sweet Kate.’Here’s what the entire plant looked like this morning, where it flourishes beside our little front water feature:

And here’s a closer view so you can better appreciate her flowers:

The chartreuse foliage does a great job of accentuating the purple flowers.

My umbrella magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) is blooming thirty feet up at the top of the tree, but I couldn’t get a shot of the open flower. I settled for a nearly open bud:

When fully leafed out, this plant does provide excellent shelter from sudden rain storms.

The fringe trees — both native and Chinese varieties — are at peak bloom right now. Here’s the top of the native tree:

And here’s a close view of part of the Chinese species:

The wetland at the edge of my property is still full of blooming Jack-in-the-Pulpits, and a few Atamasco lilies still bloom too. The spore-producing fronds of the Cinnamon Ferns that give them their common name are just beginning to fade, as you can see here:

The Red Buckeyes are still blooming, although some of the flower clusters are showing signs of seed production.

Abundant and terrifyingly vigorous poison ivy is everywhere. Here’s a stem showing flower buds about to open:

Makes me feel itchy just looking at the stuff, so I think I’ll close for now with the one deciduous azalea currently about to reach peak bloom in our north-facing garden: Rhododendron flammeum ‘Scarlet Ibis.’ It’s already taller than me. In a few more years, this one in bloom will be so magnificent that it may stop traffic.

Despite the ups and downs of our temperatures, I am making progress in the vegetable garden. I’ll update you soon.

My advice to all this year: Walk outside as often as you can if you want to be sure you see every new blooming plant before it starts and finishes. Blink twice this year, and you’ve missed half the show.

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Flowers come and (mostly) gone

Halesia diptera flowers at peak bloom on April 2

Ah, what a wacky season it has been — and continues to be. A prime example is my exquisite Two-Winged Silverbell (Halesia diptera), which bloomed last year on April 15. This year, peak bloom was this past Monday, and now the blooms are mostly gone. Uncharacteristic heat, heavy downpours, and strong winds shortened this tree’s blooming season to the blink of an eye.

Here’s what the entire tree looked like from a distance:

See the whiteness on the ground beneath it? Those are flower petals, which were already rapidly falling, even though the flowers had barely opened. Here’s a closer look at the petals on the ground:

Floral snowfall

And because this wonderful tree’s season was so painfully short this year, I offer you one more photo. This one is what the top of the tree looked like as I stood beneath it:

This beauty is about 30 feet tall and fifteen feet wide.

At least I had the chance to photographically document this lovely native.

My huge Black Cherry tree bloomed two weeks earlier than last year. By the time I thought to try to photograph the flowers on April 2, they were already dropping, leaving tiny cherries in their place. I never tire of watching the birds — especially the Pileated Woodpeckers — devour this fruit when it ripens. Here’s what I saw on April 2 this year:

The Red Buckeye, on the other hand, was unimpressed by March’s early warmth. Last year, I wrote of its first blooms on March 30. This year, most blooms were open on April 2, and the tree continues to reign redly over my floodplain. Here’s a shot from this past Monday:

Red Buckeye flowers are supposed to call in the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, but I haven’t seen a single hummer yet at my house.

I’ll close with a few swamp shots. Those natives are well ahead of last year. The Cinnamon Ferns were displaying fully developed fruiting fonds last Monday when I took this shot:

Last year, I showed you a similar picture on April 20 — almost three full weeks later!

The Jack-in-the-Pulpits are also well ahead of last year. Here’s a shot of a green one with an Atamasco Lily bloom — another species blooming earlier:

And here are some equally precocious purple Jacks blooming lustily despite being surrounded by poison ivy and other swamp plants:

I’ll leave you with proof that I’m not the only one prowling my muddy floodplain these days:

Deer at the top, and maybe a healthy raccoon below?

I’ve got even more photos of plants whose flowers have already come and gone. Stay tuned for future installments. I guess the moral of the story is to wander through your yards and gardens as often as you can this time of year. If you linger indoors, the wonders of spring will most surely pass you by.

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Wetland Wonder: Cinnamon Fern

Cinnamon Fern Fiddleheads

This is how Cinnamon Ferns (Osmunda cinnamomea) start. The furled leaves are tightly wrapped in shapes resembling the heads of fiddles — hence the term, fiddleheads, to describe just-emerging ferns. I took this photo on April 1, and I’ve been watching all month as the fiddleheads unfurled to reveal fronds.

I’ve always loved Cinnamon Ferns. These wetland beauties can be found in the Piedmont, and in areas east and west of that region. Give it moisture, and it will thrive. Give it moisture and sun, and it will grow enormous — four, even five feet!

The ferns in these photos were growing in my shady wetland when we moved here. They usually reach about three feet in height. Their fibrous root systems have created their own little hummock that stands just above the water line when the area floods.

Cinnamon Ferns are named for their fertile spore-bearing fronds. Unlike many other ferns, which produce spores on the backs of their fronds, Cinnamon Ferns put all of their spores on special fronds that turn a warm cinnamon brown when the spores mature. It really does look as if the frond is covered in cinnamon.

Here’s one of mine a couple of days ago:

Cinnamon Fern with spore-bearing fronds visible

The green fronds will continue to expand as summer progresses. The fruiting fronds will soon wither and disappear, the spores dispersing into the wetland. These tall ferns add quite a bit of drama  to any moist area; they don’t need to be in standing water to be happy.

My Cinnamon Ferns are the first of my native wetland plants to welcome springtime, but they aren’t alone. The Atamasco Lilies and Jack-in-the-Pulpits are starting to show early flowers, and the leaves of Lizard’s Tail and Jewelweed are popping up everywhere.  I’ll show you each one as it reaches its peak of wetland fabulosity.

I will never understand why people drain wetlands. A healthy wetland like mine is not only packed with gorgeous ferns and wildflowers, it provides habitat for frogs and other water-lovers, and it filters run-off before it reaches my creek, reducing the creek’s sediment and pollution load.

And one more bonus for summer nighttime lovers — the larval stage of fireflies (lightning bugs to us southern folk) require moist soil — the kind of moist soil wetlands offer in abundance. I cannot begin to describe adequately the wonder of watching thousands upon thousands of fireflies as they begin their summer nighttime dances in the shrubs, gradually rising to flicker among the branches of the tree canopy.

Who needs stars when you can watch the blinking lights of fireflies as they dance to the thrum of cicadas on sultry summer nights — all thanks to a healthy wetland presided over by statuesque Cinnamon Ferns?

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