Heading South Searching for Spring

April 19, 2019

Author: Phyllis Root
Photographer: Kelly Povo

We’ve seen a few spring wildflowers so far this year—a skunk cabbage here, a snow trillium there, a hillside of pasqueflowers in the snow from an April blizzard.  Impatient for more and tired of waiting for spring to come to us, on a morning when frost glittered on grass like cut glass we headed south to look for spring—all the way south to Beaver Creek Valley State Park.  Along the way we stopped at Frontenac State Park where we’ve seen thousands of Dutchman’s breeches in past years, but we were too early; the most we found were leaves and buds and a few opening flowers.

But Beaver Creek Valley!  On the steep hillsides hepatica and bloodroot bloomed, false rue anemone and Dutchman’s breeches were almost open, and plentiful leaves of trout lily, cutleaf toothwort, and Canadian wild ginger promised more flowers to come. Mayapples were just powering their pointed way out of the ground, and in the parking area of a campsite we came across a dusting of spring beauty in striped bloom. Here, at last, we were gloriously surrounded by springtime.

The return trip next day took us through Carley State Park in search of bluebells. Surrounded by river song, bird song, and sweet morning light we found leaves and buds but still no blossoms.  We’ll be back in a week or two to see the avalanche of bluebells and false rue anemone down the hillsides of this river valley park, but for now the most green we saw was a rampage of ramps all across the forest floor.

We’d been told of pasqueflowers at Whitewater State Park, but even though we climbed the many, many steps up to the oak savannah on Eagle Point where they were said to bloom, we saw neither blossom nor bud nor last year’s leaf.  Still, hepatica bloomed all the way along the steps, and the view from the top was spectacular.

We made a quick stop at Forestville State Park because we had read of a place where squirrel corn, a flower we’ve been pursuing for a few years now, was said to grow.  We found the general area, but since squirrel corn and Dutchman’s breeches are said to be so similar except for their flowers, and since none of the plants was helpfully flowering, we haven’t yet seen squirrel corn.  Is it there?  Will we find it?  Such questions keep us searching.

Happily satiated with hepatica, spring beauty, bloodroot, and all the imminent wildflowers we’d seen, we drove home knowing we’d found spring and that before long, it will find us, too.

BloodRoot@72
Bloodroot

They survived!

April 18, 2019

Author: Phyllis Root
Photographer: Kelly Povo

The day after we saw snow trilliums blooming at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, (see our post on April 8, 2019) a Minnesota April blizzard buried everything under a foot of snow.  As soon as that snow melted and the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden officially reopened, we went back to the Wildflower Garden to see how the snow trilliums had weathered the blizzard.  Still blooming brightly and true to their name, they had survived.  And so did we. Visit the garden in the next week or so and you can see these rare, endangered, ephemeral wildflowers, before they disappear completely until next year!

 

 

 

A Different Kind of Easter Egg Hunt!

April 14, 2019

Author: Phyllis Root
Photographer: Kelly Povo

Although last week’s snow dump is still slowly melting, we’re so ready for spring we set out Sunday in the hope that any flowers, but especially pasqueflowers, might be blooming. We’ve only ever seen pasqueflowers on two different hillsides near the Cannon River and once on a hillside in Central Park in Bloomington above Nine Mile Creek.  Because the day was gloriously sunny and the snow melting fast, we headed out to the Bloomington hill prairie. After a snowy slog down a trail behind a church, we came out onto a goat prairie, so called because only goats are said to be able to climb the steep hillside (we had no trouble with it). Watching where we stepped as we made our way through dried grasses, we found first one, then two, then many pasqueflowers opening their purple petals to the sun.  These flowers bloom even before their leaves grow, using energy stored in their roots.  Silky hairs cover every surface, helping to hold in any heat. We’ve been told that many pasqueflowers cover this hill, so we’ll be back again to see even more of them in bloom.

Seeing pasqueflowers in bloom was a fine end to a weekend that included the launch at the Red Balloon Bookshop of Phyllis’s new picture book The Lost Forest, illustrated by Betsy Bowen. The book tells the story of the Lost  Forty Scientific and Natural Area, so called because it was mistakenly surveyed as a lake in 1882 and overlooked by loggers for over seventy years.  Not only do pines 300-400 years old  tower in the Lost Forty, many spring wildflowers also bloom on the forest floor, including several orchids. Always one of our favorite places to go, we’re planning a June visit to see those native wildflowers blooming.

For today, we are gloriously happy to find pasqueflowers blooming on a hillside, not only because of their delicate beauty but also because seeing them, we know that despite any white stuff still cluttering up the ground, it must be spring.

 

We’ve included a map to help you find these pasqueflowers and here are a few tips to get to this location in Central Park, Bloomington:

Take 35W to 106thstreet, head west, go south on James Road (just past Humbolt) and just beyond Oak Grove Elementary School Forest sign you’ll see the entrance to Nine Mile Creek trail. Walk down the asphalt trail and follow the creek going south, cross the bridge and look for stairs on your right (just beyond mile 1.6). Go all the way up to the top of the ridge and the first park bench and follow the trail to the right. The pasqueflowers are in the open area slightly down the hill between the second and third park bench.

The easiest way is to go to Life Church at 2201 West 108th Street in Bloomington and park on the west side of the lot (farthest from the church where we have permission). Walk around the back of the church past the playground and follow the south ridge to the trail (don’t take the steps downhill).  Follow the trail past the first park bench to the second park bench. The pasqueflowers are in the open area slightly down the hill between the second and third park bench.  Use the faint path that loops out and back—pasqueflowers are delicate and some may be in bud underfoot when others are already blooming.

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