Posted on 16 Comments

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – April 2015

Fennel Road Milford Township PA
Fennel Road – Milford Township, PA

It’s hard to believe that there were still some patches of snow around here just two weeks ago. Spring has definitely arrived, and things are changing daily, though you have to look pretty closely. Even on foot, the roadsides don’t appear too promising.

Maple Sugaring Sap Bag
Maple Sugaring Sap Bag

The appearance of maple-sugaring equipment in the neighborhood was the very first sign of spring. I imagine these sap bags keep the liquid quite clean, though they’re not as charming as the old galvanized buckets some of the folks around here use. I don’t think it was a good season for sugaring here, because we went suddenly from cold days and cold nights to mild days and mild nights.

The nearby wetlands don’t look very active, but the spring peepers and other frogs seem more abundant this year than they have been for a while, and their chirpings and croakings are almost deafening up close.

Peeper Pond Milford Township PA
Peeper Pond – Milford Township, PA

I’ve never actually spotted any of them, even though I’ve tried to be patient. I do get to see lots of skunk cabbage, though, which is the first thing to get growing each spring. Usually it starts in late February; this year, the flowers emerged in late March.

Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpos foetidus)
Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpos foetidus)

On the roadsides, the first “real” flower–coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)–opened about a week ago.

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)

The woods aren’t very exciting yet, either.

Woodland - Milford Township, PA
Woodland – Milford Township, PA

The only thing I could find flower-wise was the emerging shoots of rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides).

Rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)
Rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)

I was hoping that the ramps (Allium tricoccum) would be ready to gather, but they’re just now emerging. We’ll have to wait another week or two to pick some for salads.

Ramps (Allium tricoccum)
Ramps (Allium tricoccum)

It is a good time for other green things in the woods: the various mosses and lichens. I hope to someday have time to learn more about identifying them. I have some basic IDs on the shots below.

Greenshield Lichen - Milford Township, PA
Greenshield Lichen
Crustose Lichen - Milford Township, PA
Crustose Lichen
Cushion Moss and Lichen - Milford Township, PA
Cushion Moss and Lichen
Moss Mosaic - Milford Township, PA
Moss Mosaic
Fern Moss (Thiudium) - Mildford Township, PA
Fern Moss (Thiudium)
Tree Moss (Climacium) - Milford Township, PA
Tree Moss (Climacium)
Haircap Moss (Polytrichum) - Milford Township, PA
Haircap Moss (Polytrichum)
Mosses and LIchens - Milford Township, PA
Mosses and Lichens
Mystery Moss - Milford Township, PA
Mystery Moss
Not a moss or a lichen, but a neat-looking fungus!

This is also a good time of year to prowl around the old stone walls in the woods to find what I used to call “writing rocks.” They are, I believe, a metamorphic rock known as hornfels. This sort of rock is very common in the neighborhood, but it doesn’t always have these cool markings.

Etched hornfels with lichen - Milford Township, PA
Etched hornfels with lichen
Etched hornfels with lichen and moss - Milford Township, PA
Etched hornfels with lichen and moss
Etched hornfels - Milford Township, PA
Etched hornfels
Etched hornfels - Milford Township, PA
Etched hornfels

This is also a good time to visit the vernal pools in the woods. I’ve watched this one for over 40 years now. It’s filled with lots of eggs this year: from both frogs and salamanders, I think.

Vernal Pool - Milford Township, PA
Vernal Pool – Milford Township, PA

There used to be two pools about this size, but over the years, one pretty much disappeared. A few years ago, Hurricane Sandy knocked over some big trees, which was a sad thing, but the holes they left are now holding water in spring…

Vernal Pool - Milford Township, PA
Vernal Pool – Milford Township, PA

And some of the holes are even deep enough for the frogs, so I’d say we have half a dozen vernal pools now.

Frog Eggs in Vernal Pool
Frog Eggs in Vernal Pool

Back at home, too, things look pretty quiet from a distance.

Hayefield April 14 2015
Hayefield – April 14, 2015

This black pussy willow (Salix gracilistyla ‘Melanostachys’) can’t be counted as showy, but it’s interesting, at least.

black pussy willow (Salix gracilistyla 'Melanostachys') at Hayefield
Black pussy willow (Salix gracilistyla ‘Melanostachys’)

The snowdrops are the first of the garden flowers to open. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated them more than I did this year!

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) at Hayefield
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) at Hayefield
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)

Spring meadow saffron (Bulbocodium vernum) is the next to open. It lasts only a few days and is barely an inch tall, but it’s cute. And, I think it’s starting to produce seedlings, so maybe there will be a nice patch someday.

Spring meadow saffron (Bulbocodium vernum) at
Spring meadow saffron (Bulbocodium vernum)

Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) also had its brief but cheery show in early April.

Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) at
Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

The reticulated irises (Iris reticulata) started last week and are still lovely.

Reticulated iris (Iris reticulata)
Reticulated iris (Iris reticulata)
Reticulated iris (Iris reticulata) with 'Angelina' sedum (Sedum rupestre) at
Reticulated iris (Iris reticulata) with ‘Angelina’ sedum (Sedum rupestre)

Green hellebore (Helleborus viridis) first opened about 10 days ago and is still looking good.

Green hellebore (Helleborus viridis) at Hayefield
Green hellebore (Helleborus viridis)

The hybrids (H. x hybridus) just started opening just a few days ago, so I haven’t gotten many pictures of them yet.

Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus) at Hayefield
Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus)
Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus) at Hayefield
Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus)

Below are some scans of other odds and ends.

'February Gold' daffodils, reticulated irises (Iris reticulata), Lenten roses (Helleborus x hybridus), grape hyacinth (Muscari), and 'Isla Gold' tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) at
‘February Gold’ daffodils, reticulated irises (Iris reticulata), Lenten roses (Helleborus x hybridus), grape hyacinth (Muscari), and ‘Isla Gold’ tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
'February Gold' daffodil with variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida 'Variegata') at
‘February Gold’ daffodil with variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida ‘Variegata’)
'Pickwick' and 'Silver Coral' crocus (Crocus vernus) with snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) at
‘Pickwick’ and ‘Silver Coral’ crocus (Crocus vernus) with snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
'Washington Park' witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) with Lenten roses (Helleborus x hybridus) and bloody dock (Rumex sanguineus) at
‘Washington Park’ witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) with Lenten roses (Helleborus x hybridus) and bloody dock (Rumex sanguineus)
Mixed daffodils with reticulated irises (Iris reticulata), Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus), green hellebore (H. viridis), violas, and Italian arum (Arum italicum 'Pictum') at
Mixed daffodils with reticulated irises (Iris reticulata), Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus), green hellebore (H. viridis), violas, and Italian arum (Arum italicum ‘Marmoratum’)
Green hellebore (Helleborus viridis) with lichen at
Green hellebore (Helleborus viridis) with lichen
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) with bigroot geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum) leaves at
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) with bigroot geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum) leaves

Before I go, I wanted to mention the release of a new book by Barbara W. Ellis: Chesapeake Bay Gardening & Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide.

Chesapeake Gardening

It’s meant specifically for gardeners in the Chesapeake Bay region, obviously, but, knowing Barbara’s wealth of hands-on gardening experience in both Pennsylvania and Maryland, I’d recommend it to anyone in the Mid-Atlantic area. I do have to admit to being somewhat biased, however, because I owe my career in gardening publishing to Barbara. Twenty-five years ago next month, she hired me as a summer intern in the Garden Books division at Rodale Press. At the end of the summer, she let me join the team as an assistant editor, and since then, she has been a mentor, a colleague, and a friend. Many of you are probably familiar with her name, because she has written a number of other popular garden books over the years, including Deckscaping and Covering Ground, to name just two. You can follow her current adventures in her Maryland garden at Eastern Shore Gardener.

Well, by next Bloom Day, these two fluffballs will probably still be playing in their sprinkler. But I plan to start shearing later today, so after a few sessions, they’ll be back to their scrawny little selves and actually able to feel the cool water.

Alpacas in the sprinkler at Hayefield
Duncan and Daniel trying to cool off

I hope to have some green garden paths to show, too. Over the last few days, I’ve accomplished Stage 1 of my garden changes for this year: seeding the bark-mulch paths back to grass.

Front Garden at Hayefield - April 13, 2015
Front Garden at Hayefield Before – April 13, 2015
Front Garden at Hayefield - April 14, 2015
Front Garden at Hayefield after Grass Seeding – April 14, 2015

Four weeks should make a big difference, if the weather cooperates. In the meantime, thanks for visiting, and enjoy this spring day in your own garden. If you need more spring color, be sure to check out the other Bloom Day participants in Carol’s main Bloom Day post at May Dreams Gardens.

Who cares about flowers when you can enjoy a snack of shredded beet pulp? Mmmm, crunchy!
Who cares about flowers when you can enjoy a snack of shredded beet pulp? Mmmm, crunchy!



Posted on 16 Comments

16 thoughts on “Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – April 2015

  1. I really enjoyed your post! I felt like I was talking a walk through the woods this morning. I love all your photos of the different types of moss and lichen. I find them all so interested. And it’s always good to see what your darling boys are up to.

    Good morning, Mariann. It’s a good time for a stroll in the woods, even with no flowers yet. Even better for that reason, perhaps, because you can then enjoy the other interesting things out there.

  2. Thanks for all the names for the mosses and lichens. I seen them in the woods walking the dogs and wondered at their names. I also enjoy the different growths on the rocks, so tiny. Love all your signs of spring! I don’t have any bare patches in the gardens yet, still full of snow except where Hubby shoveled off my snowdrop area and I have two that will bloom today!! Puttering around with potting up bulbs and seeds. It’s the longest winter ever, can’t wait till things start growing!! The boys look their usual regal selves! Have a great day!! …Sue

    Most of those were just basic IDs, Sue, but I was pleased to get that far, at least. I thought our spring was slow, but I forgot that you have to wait even longer. May you enjoy those snowdrops to the fullest!

  3. I love this post. If I could ask you to write about one thing, Nan, it would be to write more about the natural world around you, as you did today. More about stuff like the hornfels. Great information and photos. Thanks!

    That’s good to know, Marcia; thank you! I get to see lots of interesting things when I’m out rambling with the boys, but I often forget to take a camera along. I’ll make more of an effort to do that this season. Happy spring to you!

  4. I love the time of year when lichen and mosses are so apparent. I have a difficult time recognizing what they are. Your ids will be helpful. This spring is slow to come here. I think it makes me more appreciative of each blade of green. Happy GBBD.

    They really are dramatic this time of year, when their surroundings are mostly brown bark and leaves and gray rocks. Lots of moisture helps too, though it’s getting pretty dry here, unfortunately. I hope spring gets busy in your part of the world, Lisa!

  5. Hi Nan, always lovely to view your bloom day blog. Great photos and comments as usual, thank you for that. It seems like you are a few weeks behind us here in NW England. Spring has finally sprung and last week temperature here was warm and sunny, 17C/63F which has brought things on in leaps and bounds. Like in your local ponds, we had frogspawn which in our case has now hatched into tadpoles in our new pond for the very first time! I think this is going to be a great gardening year, hopefully for us all.

    How wonderful that your pond is now graced by frogs, Alan: the final blessing on all of your hard work. You’re going to have a lot of fun watching the tadpoles develop. May you receive just the right amount of rain to accompany your mild weather!

  6. What a wonderful post. I love moss, lichens and rocks so particularly enjoyed these early spring views. And your floral collages are lovely and also nice way to slow us all down to really look at the flowers. I took a two day workshop a number of years ago at the UW-Madison Arboretum on mosses. Fun, interesting and showed me you really need to use a microscope to truly identify mosses. Decided it was OK with me to just get down on my stomach and enjoy the upclose view without knowing the name!

    That workshop sounds like a great experience, Linda! But you’re right: It’s also nice to just be able to enjoy their beauty in place, without needing to know exactly what they’re called.

  7. Nan, what an extrodinary post! I had to immediately go to google and look up hornfels. I felt like I was on that walk with you. Loved your collages and liked seeing the boys. Looking forward to more posts. May spring be kind to you.

    Thank you, Judy; I’m so glad you enjoyed it. The hornfels is interesting, isn’t it? We’re close to a vein of an igneous rock called diabase here, which baked the overlying shale into hornfels. I used to attribute those rock markings to mystical beings, but I suspect that there’s a much more prosaic explanation: likely something to do with the shale parts of the rock wearing away and leaving the harder hornfels. It’s still interesting to think of other possibilities, though.

  8. Lichens are fascinating – I can’t say I’ve ever seen any in Southern California (too dry perhaps). The bulb blooms make it clear that spring has finally arrived in your area and I’ve no doubt that your garden will soon be moving into hyper-drive. You scans are beautiful and very artistic too. And I always appreciate face time with the boys!

    Happy spring, Kris! Yes, things are changing daily here, including the boys. They are now sheared from head to shoulders. They look very silly at the moment, but years younger and lots cooler.

  9. This post is a great beginner’s lesson not only in some beautiful mosses and rocks of Pennsylvania, but also in the art of finding beauty in small things. I grew up not so far from where you live now, you, but I never looked as closely or as carefully as you do. Maybe it was an age or upbringing thing, The big picture (especially of the first photo) looks so gloomy, and yet the world is so beautiful up close! Your early spring flowers are even more exciting scanned. What a great idea! My favourite photo, though, remains the furry exclamation point at the end!

    Hi Clark! Your ability to find beauty in small things is evident in your own photography. Honestly, I didn’t have much an appreciation for mosses and such in my own younger days. Have fun with your seed-sowing and your own beautiful blooms: northern Italy is far ahead of us here in PA!

  10. I enjoyed your walk in the woods. There are lots of lichens here, but no rock, so the hornfels are intriguing. Your early spring flowers are lovely, and I enjoyed all your artistic scans, I never think of doing that. I’m wondering if you do something crafty with the wool from the boys.

    Good morning, Hannah! Someone once spun a bunch of the boys’ fleece and gave me some of the yarn, and Mom knitted it into a hat and scarf for me. Other than that, I usually just use it as a mulch on garden paths, or leave it stuffed in bags. And, the birds around here have some really lovely alpaca-lined nests from the bits left on the ground when I shear.

  11. Beautiful pictures all! I enjoyed the photos of the moss and lichen immensely. These little microcosms really draw me in. And the fungus, too! Your photos are just incredible! Thanks so much for sharing them.

    Thanks! How fun that the highlight of this Bloom Day has been the non-blooms. I’m hoping to get out for another woods walk this weekend, but this time, there will be flowers to find. Hope you’re having a glorious spring too!

  12. Lovely to see the lichens and mosses ID’d. Most of them live in our own garden here on Vancouver Island. Amazing! Love the floral montages – sort of nouveau Victorian?? Is there an official term for that?
    Barbara, Victoria, BC

    When I was trying to find IDs for some of these mosses and lichens, some of the most useful references were from Britain. These little guys sure get around! I don’t think there’s a particular name for the montages, other than “bloom scans.” I used fabric for some of the backgrounds and scrapbooking papers for others, just for something different. Happy spring to you, Barbara!

  13. I love to read your posts. You are such a remarkable photographer; I especially love your pic of the sample flowers in your beautiful arrangements. You could so easily sell them as prints. I look forward to another year of watching your garden grow.

    You’re so kind, Sandy; thank you so much! It’s going to be an interesting year here, with lots of changes. I hope you’re enjoying every minute of this delightful season in your own garden!

  14. I was a bit surprised when I realized that we have the same weather! Yeas, I know that we here at the big island Gotland have much milder climate than the rest of Sweden (except for the most southerly parts) but that you have had so cold spring!?
    Our spring has also been cold this year, but the winter was really nice. And its nice with a cold early spring, all the flowers stays for eve.

    Hi Susie! Yes, we were almost a month behind as of last week, but we’re now in an unseasonably warm spell, so we’re catching up quickly. I agree with you: it’s nicer to have a cool spring so the flowers last longer. But, we don’t have any choice when it comes to the weather; ah well. Enjoy your beautiful garden!

  15. I just loved our walk through the woods! Thank you!

    You should see it now, Kimberly: Things have changed dramatically in the last 10 days. I hope spring is being kind to you and your garden!

  16. Thank you for the woodsy stroll! Like so many of the other comments i enjoyed the moss and lichen photos and descriptions. That is all foreign to me in my subdivision dwelling. I also enjoyed the full view shots to get an eye full of your area!

    Happy spring, Shelley! Thanks for taking the tour. I hope the weather is being good to you and your garden so far!

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