Thirsty Thursday

Folks,

This here Lesser Yellowlegs is doing something we squirrels practice every day…

Get it? He’s taking a walk outside.

National Trails Day is coming up this Saturday, June 2. Maybe you’ll plan a walk to see us–or at least something in nature?

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Motionless Monday

Hey there!
The motionless part isn’t quite correct for today’s wildlife ‘statue’.

We squirrels are finding this twisting banner a little getting used to–gotta pay attention to anything that moves, you know, in case it’s a hawk swooping in!

Have a great week!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

What is this blooming shrub?

Yes, a spring bloomer!

I’ll check in for your answers later!

~~~

We had a correct guess today: this is Itea virginica, or Virginia sweetspire, also sometimes known as ‘tassel-white’ which seems very appropriate!

The one in our original photo isn’t blooming just yet, likely because it’s in a shady spot. But you can see these delicate branches are hosting a good number of spires.

Itea will do fine in partial shade, but it really takes off in a sunny location.

The hanging flowers bloom from the top down for a long-lasting spring bloom, and later form tiny seeds in pods that are opened in the winter by songbirds.

Miz Flora asked me to remind out gardening readers that Virginia sweet spire isn’t just a nursery plant. It does grow wild in Virginia and the east, most commonly in damp areas or along water. But it should do fine in your garden as well, because it’s very hardy. The loosely formed mounds are great for squirrels, chipmunks and birds to hide in. Here’s a bit more information that she liked from the Piedmont Master Gardeners, because not every plant is perfect in every location. Virginia sweetspire might like your garden a bit too much!

May-apples…Hawthorn

What do you know–some common names are correct! The Hawthorn is living up to one of its–May-apple–with the ‘pome’ fruits beginning to ripen now, in May.

We took a look at this small tree’s other names, and we squirrels feel they are just as descriptive of some hawthorn characteristics:

Whitethorn = the blossoms are white, the branches are covered in thorns, as seen in this post.

Thornapple = again, the thorns and the ‘apple’ fruits.

Hawberry = those do look like berries, though scientifically they aren’t. Haw is an old English name for hedge, which these trees would make a mighty fine one of, in our humble opinion, but we understand that this is what people call the fruits over there.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Do you recognize this tiny flower? (That’s a hint!) You might have seen it in your ‘lawn’ if you’ve allowed it to ‘go wild.’

Give us your guess!

I’ll be back later to check in.

~~~

We had two correct guesses today! This little plant that often turns up in lawns, or as one commenter’s common name suggests, as a ‘wayside’ plant, is in the Veronica family, commonly known as speedwell.

It’s easier to tell in this photo that the flowers are on little stalks, so Miz Flora believes it is Persian Speedwell, Veronica persica. Do note that one of the four blue petals is smaller than the others, which is typical in this species, but also several others.

We had thought it was a native plant, because it’s so widespread, but alas, it is introduced from Eurasia. It blooms from spring until fall, with tiny 1 cm blossoms that can be easily overlooked.

Thirsty Thursday

Folks,

This week’s water column isn’t about water per se, but about what water does.

We’ve had a lot of rain in northern Virginia the last few days. A LOT, what Miz Flora calls ‘That blasted weather’. She’s particularly miffed because the rain has brought down flowers–from trees. Notice those white patches along the roadsides?

If your nose hasn’t been tuned upward, there’s been a fragrance in the air–the sweet Black Locust blossoms.

Yes, we know that phrase is usually refers to magnolias, but trust me, black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, is sweet, or so we consider it, and it’s a favorite of the honeybees.

That’s what makes us squirrels particularly sad–huge numbers of bees collect from black locust during the week they’re blooming. These pea-shaped flowers hang in bunches, called racemes Miz Flora says, and they make for easy nectar-gathering.

Unfortunately, they’re also heavy, so after Monday’s storm, most of the flowers and many branches ended up on the ground, even though this strong wood has traditionally been used for fence posts.

Sigh. If you’re a friend of bees, you might want to slip them some extra food during our predicted week of rain. Good timing if you managed to get your planting done last week though! I see plenty of oaks sprouting from acorns we buried last fall.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

The poison ivy season is upon us again. Can you tell it apart from other vines? That’s your mystery challenge today!

1

2

3

4

Which is / are poison ivy? What are the others?

Will check in later for your answers!

~~~

These are all vines in our area of northern Virginia. We had a correct guess in the comments on the poison ivy, number 2: ‘Leaves of three, let it be’ is a good reminder of what it looks like.

Number 1 is a plant that perhaps you should fear more than poison ivy–it’s a horrible invasive, mile-a-minute weed.

Number 2, the dangerous poison ivy.

Number 3 is the top vine confused with poison ivy, Virginia Creeper. It commonly has 5 leaflets to a leaf, but that varies tremendously, from 5 to 9!

Number 4 is trumpet creeper vine, native, not poisonous, but is so aggressive that some gardeners choose not to let it grow.

Thanks for visiting!