Monday, April 1, 2013

The thrill of finding a flower in the wild

It was on April 1st of last year that I found this flower at the farm.  I had known it was there for a couple of years, because I had picked the fall foliage (a deep, rich burgundy) to go in a Thanksgiving arrangement for my house.

My friend Richard took me on a jeep ride (he is an expert on period military jeeps) to reach this particular spot.  We were actually looking for native azaleas and atamasco lilies, both of which were blooming.  It was a surprise then, to see the above Bignonia capreolata, or crossvine, with flowers on it already.  I had only wanted to see if there were buds.  It usually blooms from mid to late April.  To take a picture, I had to stand on the jeep and pull the vine down.  As far as I know, this is the only spot on the farm where it grows.

Next week, I'm hoping to visit the granite outcrop where the atamasco lilies are.  Richard and I did go there a couple of weeks ago.  They are rain lilies (Zephyranthes atamasco), so the foliage is in good supply this year due to all the late winter rains.  The native azaleas should be out soon if the weather warms up.  So far, I've only found the pink Rhododendron canescens at the farm.  Here, in Atlanta, I have an R. alabamense hanging on.  There used to be a few orange R. flammeum in the woods here, but they have gone away.

There's nothing more thrilling than finding a native wildflower you didn't know was there.  Year before last, I noticed something white hanging from a tree a few yards off the driveway.  At closer inspection, I saw it was a halesia.  I didn't see any flowers last year, but maybe the tree, which is in a good bit of shade, will have some of the pristine bells that hang from the branches.  I'm constantly looking around to see if there are more discoveries.  It's fun to see hostas break the ground or foxgloves cropping up everywhere, but nothing is as satisfying as seeing something that is indigenous to this region and that may have been here for a long, long time.

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