Ah, May. You do deliver the spring goods.
After a long winter, Vermont is once again vibrantly green and lush with new growth. So… sensual.
Wildflowers are shyly appearing. Trees are leafing out, full of songbirds announcing each day’s opening and closing. Fields are exploding with grass, dandelions, and clover, giving the bees sustenance. The sun shines brightly, bursting through trees to shine like stage lights on new plants pushing up through the shadowy forest floor. Puffy white clouds drift across wide-open blue skies. There’s less rain, and winter’s harsh winds have given way to gentle breezes that tousle my hair and keep bugs at bay (as long as I keep moving).
May, I think I might be in love with you.
Vermont’s wildflowers seem shy to me because – at least so far – they aren’t the big, bright, show-offy blooms I was used to in Idaho. There, by early May, open hillsides in the forest would be covered in knee-high bright-yellow sunflowers, with shorter, dark-purple Larkspurs blue-lavender Bluebells peeking from between their leaves. White Trillium and delicate lavender-colored Douglas’s Grasswidow were other early arrivals. By late May the sunflowers were joined by orange Indian Paintbrush and deep-blue Lupine, all three of them tall, sturdy plants with large blooms, offering bursts of complementing colors impossible to miss.
Instead, finding wildflowers in Vermont is more like a treasure hunt. I must slow my pace, strolling casually through woods and fields, looking down, and there – peeking out from under last autumn’s decayed leaves and wind-blown sticks shed by the large maples, birches, and beeches overhead, or nestled in the quickly growing field grass – is the reward: bright Purple Violets, blood-red Trillium and its more delicately-colored cousin the Painted Trillium, and lots of teeny-tiny white wildflowers, beautiful little treasures rewarding the keen eye.
Some finds are complete accidents, noticed after watching one of the dogs follow their nose off the path, or seeking a place to sit.
Let me show you what I’ve discovered so far. Come along with Finn, Conall and me as we stroll through the fields and woods we are fortunate to call home. All of these photos were taken between May 17 – 26, 2022.
The next wildflower has a fun backstory. Walking a path through the woods, I nearly stepped on this cluster of tiny flowers, which I thought were Spring Beauties. Using Google Lens, I discovered they’re called Quaker Ladies, also known as Bluets. I shared this photo on the Wildflowers of Vermont Facebook page, writing tongue-in-cheek, “I stumbled upon a circle of Quaker ladies this morning.” I was surprised by the reaction; the photo received lots of likes/loves and several comments. Some referred to them as “a fairy ring of bluets.” Apparently they’re not easily found, so I was lucky. (In fact, returning the next day, and again this morning, I couldn’t find them, even though they were right in the path. A mystery.) One woman commented that her mother called them “piss-a-beds” but didn’t know why; a man chimed in that his grandfather called them “piss in the beds.” Intrigued, another group member did some research. Turns out they’re considered medicinal, with one of their (many) uses being a tea for bedwetting and strengthening the bladder!
Some of the paths through the trees are carpeted with wildflowers, mostly Violets (purple, with a few white) and Foamflowers. You can’t help but step on them, but they don’t seem to mind.
Lastly, this morning’s discovery: Goldthread. Tiny, delicate flowers with up to seven petals rising a couple inches above their equally-tiny three-leaf base. So small, I had to put my camera on the ground to photograph them. I found these only because my hip was aching and I wanted to sit on a flat boulder I knew was in the trees, atop a knoll, so I could stretch without having to lay on the ground. To my delight, these Goldthread were growing around the boulder, mixed in with another native wildflower – Canada Mayflower – that hasn’t bloomed yet (but soon).
May, I love you, but I admit, I’m eager to see what June has in store.