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Flowering Redbuds, Azaleas, Plums and other discoveries

Offering up photo diaries of wildflowers and trees, birds and bugs, and maybe some critters as I wander and learn about the natural beauty of our world.
February 1, 2013

This diary is a continuation of the My Yard series I did last year. See March, April, April video, August - and yes, more of the same lovely trees in bloom.

It's so easy to go out there and walk up and down the hill, stopping to look, to think, to find what's different. Last Wednesday I noticed one thing - the spring blooms seem ahead of time, like this purple glow I saw up in the treetops - an early redbud!

Having my photo library organized by year with folders named "yyyy-mm-dd place & subject" simplifies the process of verifying when something did flower.

2012 - Redbuds are out but barely open on Feb 8
2011 - Flower buds on Feb 22, open Feb 26
2010 - March 13 & looking like they do right now
2009 - Feb 5 - how about that? Spring 2013 is not as unusual as it seems. Maybe a few days earlier while the March date looks like the outlier - at least over my limited timespan.

Looking back I see the native azaleas also bloom about the same time as the redbuds.

Continue on below and we can check in on some of my other favorite trees...

My yard, my little bit of woods, has a slope that goes from 220' elevation to 180' - a forty foot drop over the 600' length. The redbuds are found halfway down, among the huge spruce pine and tulip poplar, fighting for space in the canopy. So it blooms 20-30' above my head making it hard to get good photos. Here's these southern natives 3 days after first appearing.

Down at the bottom are azaleas (r. canescens). These flower for a few weeks - first blooms are on the upper branches, then lower. I think the sunlight affects that. And see how each set of blossoms unfolds from the center?

I was not aware of this Red Maple in the bottoms but another tree fell into it and bent a branch down to where I can see the bright red flowers. These maples are common east of the Mississippi and are a true indicator of spring as they light up the woods.

Not too far from the maple is this Wild Olive also leaning over to where I can admire its blooms. Not quite open... Also known as Devilwood (Osmanthus americanus) with range limited to coastal SE.

Southern Twayblades (Listeria australis) favor the wet bottom altho it is not very wet now, certainly no water puddling up and flowing thru as in other years. The stem rises about an inch, the two 1" blades spread out and then the flower stalk rises 2-4" with thread-like blooms. I sure like this orchid despite being so tiny and easily overlooked.

These grape ferns (Botrychium biternatum) are everywhere; I feel blessed to have so many. They're at the end of their spore season. This is one of the largest I have found, maybe 6" tall but no spore stalk this winter.

Yesterday's pleasant discovery was another colony of anglepod milkweed vines (matelea gonocarpus). It's in an area that I seldom see but with the bare undergrowth I could stop and ponder. This pod got trapped between tree limbs and did not open all the way so now I have more seeds to plant or give away.

Next to the matelea was this sturdy pupa. I've seen them before but have not researched it. Maybe one of y'all will recognize it.

This treetop crashed while I was looking at the redbud. Really, if my camera had been up and ready, I could have filmed it. Another water oak in slow decay, dropping branches for 2 years now. The woodpeckers are enjoying what's left of the trunk.

Going back up the hill, a surprise is the Flatwoods Plum (prunus umbellata). I've been nursing this one for a few years, beating back the grape, greenbrier and invasive honeysuckle that strangled so many trees. My reward - a plum tree covered in blooms.

Closeup with spider hiding and waiting.

Heading out of my yard onto the dirt road, there is another common coastal SE plant in full bloom - Yellow Jessamine (Gelsemium). There have been 1 or 2 flowers popping out all winter everywhere I go but now is prime time.

And farther down on the paved road is this pecan tree covered in mistletoe. I've wanted to take a photo for awhile, like every time I go by. It's so striking in the bright blue winter sky.

Another day, another walk in the woods, another photo diary of the things I enjoy. Guess many of you are still frozen in winter with spring a month or 2 away. But maybe, maybe there are a few signs of spring creeping in? I'm also wondering who else might be tracking spring flowering (trees and wildflowers), so please jump in with comments and let's see who has the most extensive records.

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