One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there,

While you were out hiking yesterday, did you come across anything as common as these?

By chance do you know the specific type? (I know, all those little flowers look alike, but Miz Flora would be pleased if anyone knows!)

Check in for your answers later!

~~~

Two of our readers agreed these are violets. Yay! Though they’re are thirty-some species of violets in the Eastern U. S., Miz Flora was hoping someone might figure out that they are Canada Violets.

 It is near-to-impossible from photos. Canada violet has white petals with a yellow throat, and the backs of the petals are tinged with violet. Only three of the local violets are white or cream-colored, and none of the others have purple backs. You might check your white violets, but Miz Flora recommends you check more than one blossom and perhaps several times as they are blooming.

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Happy National Trails Day

We squirrels know trails are a thing with you humans. You even set aside a day to celebrate them and encourage people to get outside.

We think that’s a good idea–and not just for one day!

Enjoy your time outdoors!

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.