The other day I made another visit to Goll Woods, my favorite location in northwest Ohio to see spring woodland wildflowers. Most years I make the one-hour drive every week in April, but this year I only got over there twice. And this visit was on a very chilly day, so many of the flowers were closed and I was the only person crazy enough to be there. But this time I was on a quest; I wanted to find squirrel corn, a beautiful plant that I’d only seen once at this location, back in 2017.
I wasn’t able to find it this time, and I always wonder if it’s out there still but just not near enough to the trails to be spotted. Oh well. Regardless, I had a wonderful time and got some nice photos to remember the day. Let me show you.
Instead of shooting the violets only from the front as I usually do, I took this side view that makes it look so elegant and swoopy, if that’s a word.
Here’s the typical frontal view of a concentrated cluster of these lovely natives. I love how they’re surrounded by geranium leaves. That’s part of what’s so special about looking at the spring ephemerals each year, how the woodland floor is carpeted with such a jumble of plants of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
Only a few geraniums were blooming at this point but they sure stood out among the bright green background.
Wild geranium is a late-spring bloomer, along with wild ginger. I found lots of fuzzy wild ginger buds nearly ready to open, and particularly liked this one growing out of a crevice in the trunk of a tree. Notice the moss and lichens on the bark. There’s such a fantastic plant community thriving at Goll Woods; it’s clearly an Ohio treasure to be protected.
And speaking of the carpet of foliage, take a look at this lush expanse of Virginia waterleaf and wild geranium leaves. Oddly enough, although I can easily identify waterleaf by its foliage, I’ve never seen the flowers of this plant. I guess that’s because it blooms later in May when I’ve usually stopped going to Goll Woods and am busy chasing dragonflies and other bugs closer to home.
Here’s some detail of a Virginia waterleaf leaf (that sounds so funny). As the name implies, it looks like water has splashed on the leaves.
While I’ve got you distracted with plants, I’ll take a moment to enjoy this lovely hoverfly, the Eastern calligrapher fly. These tiny flies are important pollinators and their larvae eat aphids, so they’re wonderful gardening partners. This one was sitting motionless on this very cold afternoon, so it was easy to get a photo. It’s a very common species and I have dozens of photos of them, but I can never resist just one more.
Another of my favorites among the spring flowers is Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum). Can you see him in there, standing in his ‘pulpit’? These upright plants can grow to two feet tall and are relatively easy to spot as they tower above everything else in the woods.
This is one of the Solomon’s seals, but I’m not sure exactly which Polygonatum species it is. I’ve not paid much attention to these plants in the past, and I almost mistook it for one of my other favorites because of the way the leaves are drooping and curled up at the ends.
And below, notice the curling leaves on this large-flowered bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora). If the flower is hidden from view as I approach the plants, I can be confused for a moment because my eyes focus on those curling leaves and I instantly remember how I’m always transfixed by the tenderness of the leaves on these bellworts. And my gosh, how can anyone not admire those delicately spiraling yellow petals? This was one of the first spring ephemerals I fell in love with. I have a couple of them in my garden, but they’ll likely die when I lose my last bits of shade in that bed this summer (I wrote about that unfortunate turn of events in my previous post).
Looking at this just now I realize that I should investigate pollinators of this plant, as those twisted flowers might make it harder for some insects to get inside. Some plants require the strength of our larger bumblebees to pry open the petals to access the nectar and/or pollen, so I wonder if that’s a possible pollinator of this plant. I’ll look into it.
Toadshade is one of the best flower names around, and even though botanists urge us to learn the scientific names of plants to avoid confusion, I can’t resist using ‘toadshade’ instead of its official name of Trillium sessile. This time I wanted to get my camera up close and personal with the flower, but most of them are too tightly closed to see much inside. This one allowed me a nice photo though.
I know this has been a long-ish post, but I wanted to show you that even on a cold day, when we think there might not be anything to see, there’s always something interesting happening in the woods. It might just take a change in perspective and an open mind to find it. With that in mind, I’ll end with two views of the classic spring beauties, Claytonia virginica. First the typical frontal view:
And then an alternate view that has its own beauty.
I could have allowed myself to be frustrated when I got to the woods and found it was much colder than I’d anticipated and most of the flowers weren’t opened. And many times, I do fall into that happiness-ruining trap. But not this time. I’m pleased that I was able to throw out my expectations and allow myself to see things differently and appreciate what I found there. That willingness changed everything. The flowers may be ephemeral, but happiness doesn’t have to be if we learn to lessen our grip on those silly expectations. #FindingtheJoy
Don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but TBH I don’t read blogs. Yours is the ONLY one I read because of how well you express yourself, your interesting content and your fabulous photos. You never disappoint: reading your blog is always worth making myself sit still and read at my computer (which is what I don’t like about blogs). I loved your side shot of the violet and I loved getting to visit with all my favorite spring ephemerals. I was 2 blog entries behind, but I fixed a cup of coffee and sat down this morning to enjoy them both. Thanks for putting the effort into them for us to enjoy.
Oh Ginny, that’s so kind of you to tell me that! I’m grateful for your friendship and so glad you enjoy my writing.
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Loved the photos! wish I knew more about both wildflowers and animal tracks.
Thanks Tracy! I can’t help much with animal tracks, but I can definitely take you out to see the spring ephemerals next April.
I LOVE spring ephemerals. I love your pictures. I have a suggestion about any shade loving plants you fear will die when your shade is gone. I will come over with my trusty spade, dig them and transfer to my much shaded backyard garden. Then when you have more shade I will dig most of them and trans plant them back to your garden. Of course that’s assuming I’m still able to dig!
Interesting idea…hmm. We’ll talk. 🙂
Hi Kim – I thought this post was great, and have an eclectic list of thoughts associated with it.
1- At least you must have had enough clothing along for your protection against the cold!
2- If you’re really interested in squirrel corn, have you ever been to the Nan Weston Nature Conservancy Preserve near Manchester MI? I believe it would be less than an hour drive for you. Lots of cool stuff there – squirrel corn, dwarf ginseng, putty root, green violet, (golden seal, appears sometimes poached by plant-nappers), plus others!
3- I thought the side view of the spring beauty was quite “artistic”.
4- I know you’re worried about the shade issue on part of your garden. What about tolerating an “unnatural” shade or hoop structure like: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/101190322909603692/ or something similar?
Hi Ron. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’ve been to Nan Weston once or twice, but never during spring ephemeral season. I’ll have to run up there and check it out.
Not sure about a shade structure but I’ll consider that option..thanks!
I’d have to say – IMO – the spring ephemerals are what it’s best known for!
Expectations can certainly be great stumbling blocks to a lot of things in life. Beautiful post!
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Thanks, Teresa! WordPress is telling me your blog has been deleted…is that true or just a glitch?
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Must be a glitch. WordPress moved to jet pack, and I transitioned to that. But I can open my blog and see all the previous post. Just haven’t done any lately. I need to kick myself in the rear and get moving. You’re an inspiration!
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