It is now official, for me at least, now that the first trillium has been spotted. I declare that it is now spring on the farm.
I had been down hill earlier in the day to visit a friend who lives about 500 feet above sea level, and saw a bright, white trillium blooming at the edge of their flower bed. As soon as I got home, I headed out to see if we had any blooming.
According to Wikipedia,
Picking parts off a trillium plant can kill it even if the rhizome is left undisturbed. Some species of trillium are listed as threatened or endangered and collecting these species may be illegal. Laws in some jurisdictions may restrict the commercial exploitation of trilliums and prohibit collection without the landowner’s permission. In the US states of Michigan and Minnesota it is illegal to pick trilliums. In New York it is illegal to pick the red trillium.
In 2009, a Private Members Bill was proposed in the Ontario legislature that would have made it illegal to in any way injure the common Trillium grandiflorum (white trillium) in the province (with some exceptions), however the bill was never passed.
Here at the farm it is the white trillium that is native and grows in the woods during the spring although they don’t grow as big as the ones down in the valley. The white blossoms turn pink as they age while the green leaves can continue to get larger after the blossoms have fallen off. Leaves tinged with a red hue can be spotted well into the heat of the summer if they have some tall trees around to keep them from the brutal sun.
A little more than a skiff of snow blanketed the limbs on the freshly trimmed fruit trees, the garden, pastures and roads around the farm early Monday morning. The snow looked pretty on the pink blossoms of the flowering cherry.
It was a bit of a surprise since we had gone to bed with clear skies and stars twinkling. Just a few clouds near sunrise brought enough moisture in for this touch of winter. From before 5 a.m. until about 7, the showers came through and coated everything. Most of the snow was melted by noon and once again we noticed a hummingbird or two snooping around for flower to visit.
While feeding the herd across the river, I noticed the alder trees by the river getting their familiar red spring tinge.
The trees had been dull and lifeless all winter long since they lost their leaves in the fall.
It seems like a long time coming but the alders turning hue is a very good indicator that the trees are coming out of winter dormancy.
The color doesn’t come from new leaves emerging, that comes a little later in the season. The red comes from the catkins that will soon be the pollen delivery system for the area.
The picture also shows a couple of under-developed cones still on the tree from last year, hanging on until they rot away.
The springtime chore of getting all the fruit trees pruned have narrowed down to two final trees.
The old grafted trees were the hardest, they are nearing 100 years old and the grafts are not as strong as they once were.
Some of the extra weight from the sheer volume of the limbs needed to be sawed off in order to keep the trees from breaking after the foliage comes out and the fruit begins to grow.
The newer trees (under 10 years old) are not grafted and are merely kids compared to the oldsters. They are also semi-dwarf varieties and we will not need the 14 foot ladder to reach the top branches even when they are full grown.
The big, old Bartlet Pear is the current tree being pruned. This tree is the most prolific grower of water sprouts, each single one can be up to 6 feet tall and thicker than my thumb at the base.
The buds on the trees are starting to swell and now the race is on to finish the pruning before they get any further along in their springtime growth spurt.
Change is a brewin’. It can be felt with warmer temperatures, it can be seen in buds beginning to emerge, it can be heard with exuberant chirping of new hatchlings in the tall trees. Even the mud (which there is plenty) seems to have a spring-time feel to it as I trek from barns, to fields, to garden and back again. The change is happening away from the farm also. The other day I was in town when I experienced a spring encounter. Continue reading
Our extremely wet and cold spring has sure taken a toll on all the spring growth.
Plants that normally would be strong and vigorous by now are still struggling to break out of winter.
The hay fields are very slow to start growing, if the cold and wet continues hay season may be a week or two late this year.
This sad little salmonberry bloom, a native plant to Northwestern Oregon, sits on a bush that is only about 4 inches tall. Normal years have this plant waist high before blooms start growing. The stunted plants may not have a enough stamina to produce much fruit this year.
On the way to feeding the main herd, trilliums can now be spotted dotting the woods with distinctive white blossoms and three-lobed green leaves.
People in the valley have been seeing trilliums for two weeks already and I was beginning to worry that we would not have a crop of the woodland native.
Trilliums are sensitive to conditions around them and pop up beneath tall firs and thick understory. The plants die down completely after blooming. The blooms last several weeks before turning from a brilliant white to a soft magenta color before dying back, not to be seen again until spring next year.