Monday, April 30, 2012

Sweeping Spring Landscape ~ Leafy and Feathery Flames of Light

A fresh spring green landscape awash in first light. 

Rings of chlorophyll reign in the 'north garden' bathed by the rising sun. A diverse family of flora and fauna coexist in our hillside paradise, wearing equally diverse coats of greens and a multitude of colorful blooms, scales, feathers and furs.

Millions of atoms trapping sunlight in varying wavelengths resemble tiny flames of energy. Mighty Oaks stand like guardians before our serpentine Black Cherry, while countless more are unfurling yellow-green leaves across the way on Walnut and Carey hill. The variety of fauna existing within this detail of flora is staggering to ponder.

An old friend and featured Apple is wearing a crown of radiance before metamorphosing forests and the Mount Holyoke Range.

Another senior apple . . . in the right corner of this frame . . . more bonsai-like . . .  with countless newly dressed trees flowing towards Mount Tom. 

Insects and birds delight . . . innumerable branches within a detail . . . feasts to forage. 

Yellow-rumped Warbler . . . just one of hundreds of returning songbirds in our gardens and forest greeting the new day. 

Imagine a myriad of life within the canopies. A very old mountain range is never silent, looking up towards an ever evolving sky. 

Within our natural world drama is endless . . . at times leaving tragic wounds. A native Black Cherry, sadly, split in half a year ago . . . the vulnerability of crouches. A few days past, Michael's tree was the stage for a wrangle between a Pileated Woodpecker and a kvetching male Bluebird. 

Respite rules in the end. 
I am guessing the Pileated female is as bemused as I . . . with this bellicose Bluebird behavior. It is not as though she was close to his nest box. Perhaps Ms. Pileated was making too much noise. It is comical to see such a large bird ruffled by a much smaller one. Not surprising really, as I have seen hummingbirds chasing hawks in the past. Parents become fearless when protecting their young. 

We have had temperatures dipping into the twenties for several nights. Most plants and blooms seem to survive the cold so far . . . the full moon is still nearly a week away. 
Spring can be so mercurial. 
Goodbye April . . . Welcome May. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spring Wildflowers and Other Wild Wings Scattered About

The gardens, fields and forest floors are dotted with fresh spring wildflowers. 

A delicate dancing red Trillium magically lifts itself up into the light. 

An early to emerge Orange sulphur Colias eurytheme, flying about looking for vetch no doubt. I am excited to see that the chrysalis survived our winter and hungry birds. April is suppose to bring showers but this year there have been few and I guess that is good for butterflies. I have never seen so many flying wildflowers this early before. The warm spring has encouraged emergence and I hope the dipping below freezing temperatures will not harm the wild winged creatures. 

 Black Swallowtails are awake very early too. I eyed this female depositing an egg and found it right in the path. I was surprised to see that the egg was attached to a piece of Bishop's weed. An invasive, pernicious plant of the carrot family . . .  and this may be a way to rid my gardens of at least some, but it is hopeless to ever be free it. I will be raising the caterpillar in a safer place indoors and will gladly harvest Bishop's weed for it to eat. I will place some Queen Anne's Lace near it too just in case. Dandelions are popping up in the grassy paths and fields. An important nectar source for the butterflies and the greens are great to eat . . . richer in iron than spinach. I do not understand why so many hate them. 

It is always a joy to see the clustered cheery faces of our native 'Quaker Ladies' or Bluets Houstonia caerulea, carpeting the fields. 

Even the Cabbage White Pieris rapae, is lively a bit earlier than usual. I hope she does not discover my tiny brassica seedlings sprouting in the veggie garden. Sweet violets are offering refreshing nectar.

Even more tiny blooms can be found lower to the ground. I am forgetting what these are. Any ideas?

I have been eyeing this Yellow-rumped Warbler  Dendroica coronata, for a couple of weeks now. 

Native Shadblow Serviceberry Amelanchier canadensis, blooms in the south field

Oh, I can never look upon these seemingly harmless fronds in the same way again. These could be Ostrich fern fiddleheads but it is too soon for me to determine. They are growing in a wet area in the north field. I have never harvested my own fiddleheads but did buy some recently at our co-op and prepared them for a lovely outdoor luncheon. Well, BEWARE  (see link just above in this paragraph - I wish I had) . . . you must boil these for at least ten minutes and then sauté them. I did not know or remember this and paid a huge price for my ignorance. Luckily my dear friend J. did not taste any tainted coils. 

Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis, blooms came and went very quickly with the heat, but their butterfly like leaves (in this image anyway) are equally stunning. 

 Virginia bluebells Mertensia virginica, are ringing in the north field. 

Violets Viola, are creating lovely carpets along the fields and garden floors. 

A first sighting ever for me here at Flower Hill Farm  . . . a Field Sparrow Spizella pusilla.

There are millions of blueberry blooms promising a bounty of berries for humans, birds and other beasts.

Red Elderberry Sambucus racemosa blooms outside the little studio terrace. A favorite berry for many birds. 

This wildflower post for Gail  begins and ends with Trilliums. This grandiflorium lives happily beneath an apple tree. 
It is an overwhelming time of year in every way. So much to do and see . . . ever changing. 
Exhilarating, inspiring and exhausting. 
Those of us who can engage in it and enjoy are so blessed. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring Spreads Swaths of Sweetness in Petals and Song

"She beckons, and the woods start~
She nods and all begin~
Surely ~ such a country
I was never in." 
Emily Dickinson

Viburnum carlesii before White Birch

Spring is spry and gay . . .  spreading sheets of sweet petals . . . swathes of green surface. 

Flowering Quince

Magnolias and Weeping Chery

Returning birds and songs fill the cool spring air. A magical time of year.

Tree Swallow seen from under the Weeping Cherry tree

Strife strings along with the season ~ 

As well as wing embraces ~ a gentle feather waltz.  

In the lower garden, tea and painting are most pleasant beneath the cherry tree chimes, though it might be called bee chimes too. The sounds remind one of a swarm of bees. This is such a common tree but not to me. I have tamed this being and we are dear old friends. Breezes begin to whip about her wispy delicate blooms, reminding one of pink confetti falling to the ground. 

Middle meadow garden with bluebird nest box before apples

Ms. Bluebird and I are busy gathering detritus ~ she making a nest, while I build compost. 

Mr. Bluebird is diligent about guarding their home. 

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul.
And sings the tune
Without the words
And never stops at all." 
Emily Dickinson

We do always hope that birds will find our housing satisfactory, but all is not well in the housing market here at Flower Hill Farm. Strife indeed . . .  this is one way I would say . . . that humans are a bit more well-mannered . . . we overbid but surely do not get into fights over housing. Perhaps that is not totally true. Surely we never try to take away each others partners in the process. For now, in the garden there are chase scenes and downright brawls over the nest boxes . . . ah, but things will settle down in a bit. 

What is wrong with this picture?

Off with you ~ Ms. Bluebird has a nest in this house. There are two other houses that might suit you.

Here I thought the bluebirds were about to dive down upon a Tree Swallow . . . but hold on . . . 

 A skirmish between two male bluebirds is afoot.

The first Mr. Bluebird holds fast to his home and partner.

Walnut hill is coming alive in a myriad of green hues. I have eyed a number of returning warblers and the sounds of songs are lively at dawn. Our woodcock is still flying up high, performing his courtship wing dance, but it is now harder to hear him for all the other trills and twitters in concert ~ just as dawn paints the sky a tinge of rose.
Spring is joy.  

Earth Day 2012
The earth breathes out and you are never forgotten dear Michael ~ Poet and activist for the Earth.

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