Nature
8:35 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Poor Will's Almanack: April 30 - May 6, 2013

Garlic Mustard
Credit Flickr Creative Commons user Smoobs

Poor Will’s Almanack for the First Week of Late Spring.

When apple blossoms have all fallen, then the first sweet rocket, fleabane, sweet Cicely, daisy, fire pink, common plantain, white clover, chamomile, black medic, star of Bethlehem, lily-of-the-valley, sweet William, meadow goat’s beard, May apple, and wood sorrel are almost always open.

The woods are filled with garlic mustard, green and white among the still bare trees. It’s the best time of all for blue forget-me-not, golden ragwort, water cress, wild geranium, miterwort, swamp buttercup, late toad trillium, late trillium grandiflorum, late winter cress, white spring cress and the wild purple phlox.

Mock orange and strawberries come into full bloom when the last crabapple petals are gone. A few early poppies and peonies unravel then. Early iris and lupines are budding. Astilbe and clematis have formed flower heads. Summer hostas are eight to ten inches tall. Ferns, day lilies, comfrey, summer phlox have reached almost two feet. In the parks, the paths are thick with violets.

This deep into late spring, the canopy of leaves becomes thicker every day. In the valleys, the woods are flushed, pale but luminescent. Mountain maples, lilacs and wild cherries flower. Poison ivy develops to a third of its June size—pacing the Virginia creeper and wild grapes. All the sweet gum flower clusters fall to the street as chives blossom in the garden. Redbuds fade, their leaves replacing blossoms almost overnight.

Mayflies are out along the water. Bullfrogs call. Minnows and chubs are flushed red for their mating season. Flea time begins for pets, a sign that insect activity is nearing the economic threshold on the farm. Spitbugs grow in the shelter of swamp parsnips, announcing that the first cut of hay will soon be underway. The first small groups of monarch butterflies that left Texas in February cross the Ohio River. Flies become pesky in the mild afternoons.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the Second Week of Late Spring. In the meantime, find just one piece of the season. It is a marker for all the other pieces.

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