Thursday, April 18, 2019

As Cherry Blossoms Fade Bluebells Peak

After a terribly wet 2018 we have been rewarded with a spectacular spring season.

The cherry blossoms were oh so gorgeous but after a week and a bit they faded and gave way to the bluebells.
 Pretty cherry blossoms backlit by a pretty sundown.
 Cherry blossom confetti with daffodils in my front garden.
 A misty morning farewell to the cherry blossoms with the vibrant spring green foliage starting to takeover.
 Spring frogs in a pond at Riverbend Park.
 If you look carefully nature always has some surprises to reward you with like this white bluebell.
 The winter season had an over abundance of rain and the Potomac overflowed it's banks on several occasions. At Riverbend this spring walking on the main trails in certain spots is like walking on a sandy beach. See in this photo how the sand has washed up into a bank on the left side.
 The spring flower display at Riverbend has been absolutely glorious and I saw many plants for the first time. Chatter along the walkways was wondering if the big green leaf plants might be lily of the valley. I was doubtful because that is not a wildflower native in this area so pulled out my trusty "spring wildflower identification guide" that I purchased at the Riverbend visitor center last year. It gave me the correct answer that these plants are ramps/wild leeks and that they might bloom in June/July. Spring Beauty in the foreground is particularly abundant and pretty this season.
 My first ever sighting of a white trout lily - I saw several of the more common yellow version this year. This is not a particularly wonderful photo but I include it here to demonstrate something I learned this season. Walk slowly and keep your eyes focused on the ground...but also be alert for other folk with cameras who have stopped along the trail. Chances are they have seen something special and will point it out to you if you pause and open a conversation with them. In the same way I was able to pass along a tip as to the location of one of the biggest areas of Sessile Trilliums I have seen in several years (not shown in the interests of keeping from this post turning into a marathon).
 For our fourth walk among the bluebells this season we went to a new location for us: the Seneca Park which is a few miles upriver from Riverbend Park. It is more of a hike to find the bluebells and the paths are more narrow and prone to being muddy, but, oh yes, the bluebells there are just as wonderful this spring.
 I'm including this photo to see if I can get someone else to identify this wildflower. I found only these two stalks and could not see it on my identification chart. Do you know what this white flower in the foreground is?
 Along the riverbank walk at Seneca there are frequent small islands that separate the riverbank from the main Potomac River. On Wednesday when we we there the current was moving quite quickly and I spotted this one duck having a grand ride with not much effort. Note the abundance of bluebells on the small island in the background.
 The bluebells are very tenacious and will find a home just about anywhere along the riverbank. The trees are pretty tenacious as well and this one was at a good lean out over the river and was hosting a bluebell as a bonus.
 Its a bit of an uphill hike on the return from the riverbank to the parking lot but on a sunny spring day there is the added bonus of views like this.
Meanwhile, looking out over my own backyard my garden is rewarding me with bluebells, daffodils and dogwood all in bloom at the same time. Spring in Virginia is oh so pretty this year. The native dogwoods are moving into peak bloom as the bluebells fade after some unusually hot weather this past week.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

A Cotton Candy Week

This has been peek week for the cherry blossoms around here. Although we love going to the tidal basin in Washington DC to see the trees there the reality is that it is super crowded. For a change of pace this year we tried to take in as many other locations as we could to view the trees when they were at their best.
 All the blossoms reminded me of cotton candy. On Tuesday morning this was how the cherry trees on my and my neighbor's front lawns looked. Each day I photographed them to chart the difference.
 On Wednesday we went to visit the National Arboretum in Washington DC. This is one of their oldest cherry trees. In the distance the unusual view is of 22 columns relocated from the Capitol Building during building works in 1958 and later installed here.
 It was a sunny but windy day. Outside in the Asian bonsai collection but still sheltered from the wind the sun created effective shadows for my photo.
 The camellia collection on a shady hillside within the Asian Collections included these beauties.
 A closer view of the Capitol columns. The shadows created at this angle are amazing. What do you see in them?
 On Thursday we made a quick visit to nearby Lake Ann.
 The purpose of that outing was to see the Van Gogh bridge there...but lots of other people had headed there with the same purpose. This is the bridge but not quite from the aspect I had planned.
 Over the other side of the bridge was this calmer view.
 Today's outing was to Meadowlark Gardens Regional Park. The daffodils looked pretty with the old garden bench as a backdrop
 Now I am not a pink person but, for this week, I can try hard to like it. For instance the contrast of the magnolia blooms in front with the cherry trees behind is beautiful don't you think?
 A view of the gazebo on the lake with plenty of cherry trees and another magnolia here in the foreground.
 Meadowlark is a popular venue for weddings. Here we see nature's confetti - petals from the cherry blossoms above create a ground cover around the vivid pink of the hyacinth.

This goose stood patiently for quite some time posing. Children were trying to entice it by throwing crumbs but it steadfastly ignored them.

I call this one "heading home". Pink was on many minds it seems. The grassy areas in the park are still in the winter weary stage as is evident from many of the shots but I just could not resist taking this photo anyway. The elderly gentleman was also busy in several other locations within the park taking photos but it was time to head up that hill and get home before the forecast change in the weather.
In closing I wanted to again show you the cherry trees on my lawn. Wind and some potentially heavy rain are predicted in the next 18 hours or so. Who knows how much of the "cotton candy" will be left on the trees after the storm has rolled through.

It is such a short season but once the cherry blooms have peaked and passed something else will burst into bloom to replace them. I'm expecting that to be the dogwoods so come back soon to see.