Green and Flowery

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.

wildflowers in Idaho j- sunflowers, Indian paintbrush, lupine, closeup
Sunflowers, Indian Paintbrush and Lupine. Payette National Forest, Idaho, 2014.

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.

dog on pond shore, duck on water flapping wings at dog, open fields, clouds, blue sky beyond
Conall being told by a female Mallard to back off, this pond is hers. May 17, 2022.
white quartz rocks making a cairn, flowering wild cherry tree behind, blue sky beyond
Flowers on a wild cherry tree growing next to a new Coyote Cairn I built to replace the earlier one, this one made from quartz rocks found nearby and in a better location. May 17, 2022.
wildflowers - heartleaf foamflower, closeup
Heartleaf Foamflower (false miterwort). Likes shady woods. May 17, 2022.
wildflowers - marsh marigolds, dog sniffing them
Finn sniffing some Marsh Marigolds. May 19, 2022.
forest path through tall trees leafing out on sunny morning
Tall trees leafing out, forming a natural cathedral, Conall nearly invisible on the path below. May 20, 2022.
tree frog swimming in vernal pool, dog wading from the side
When Conall waded into a vernal pool in the woods, he startled several small wood frogs, causing them to jump from the edge into the water to hide under the dead leaves on the bottom. I managed to photograph this one before it dove. May 20, 2022.
one-gallon glass jug pulled from ground, closeup
Because I followed Conall to that vernal pool to watch frogs, something glinting in the sunlight behind a tree beyond the pool caught my eye: an old, half-buried one-gallon glass jug. With the landowners’ permission, it is now an ornament in
my yard. May 20, 2022.
replica covered wooden bridge over pond in green field, dog wading
Some days, for variety, Conall and I will go for a run on local roads. He appreciates being able to drink and cool his toes in this pond. I appreciate the beauty of the setting. May 21, 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!


wildflower - starflower, closeup
Tiny Starflowers. May 23, 2022.
wildflowers - wild strawberries in field grass - hills, clouds and blue sky beyond
Wild Strawberries growing in the fields. May 25, 2022.
trees leafing out along edge of field, blue sky and clouds above
Trees finally leafing out, adding even more green to the landscape. May 25, 2022.
dog on lush green path through woods, trees and shrubs leafing out
The woods are bursting with green growth, making it hard to see through the trees now. May 25, 2022.

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).

wildflower - goldthread, closeup
Threeleaf Goldthread. May 26, 2022.

May, I love you, but I admit, I’m eager to see what June has in store.

18 thoughts on “Green and Flowery”

  1. You’re finding so many lovely little surprises. That’s an interesting observation about the difference between the sizes of flowers in Idaho and Vermont. I wonder if you’re at a significantly different elevation that might account for some of that? Or just variations in microclimates due to terrain…I dunno. Thanks for sharing all the interesting photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s fun!

      As for size difference, I’ve no idea. My homes in Idaho and Vermont are both on the 45th parallel and experience similarly long, snow-filled winters. There is an elevation difference – in Idaho the flowers were blooming at 4,000-6,000 feet, in Vermont I’m at 2,000 feet. But I would think higher elevation would mean smaller flowers? There’s also lots less moisture/water in Idaho than Vermont, which again, would make one think smaller plants/flowers. Interesting question, one I should explore and try to answer.


    1. Chance, with slight help from me. There was actually a big, dead leaf from last autumn in the middle, which I removed for the photo. The leaf created the ring. But based on some comments on the Wildflowers in Vermont Facebook page, maybe finding them in a ring isn’t uncommon.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You found a lot! I commented on one of your Idaho posts that we don’t have as many wildflowers here in Vermont. Maybe we do have as many, but they’re smaller and less noticeable. You mentioned moisture in a comment above. We do get plenty of rain here, which means that fires aren’t much of a factor in Vermont forest ecology.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bet there are as many different wildflowers in Vermont, but smaller and less bold for sure. I’m certainly having fun finding them. It’s rather like birding, keeping a life list 🙂 I imagine different parts of Vermont host different flowers, so eventually I’ll have to venture farther afield.

      Good point about fires and their impact on forest ecology, which includes wildflowers. This morning I ID’d a blooming tree in the woods: Fire Cherry, aka Bird Cherry. The former name comes from the fact that its seeds – which can lie dormant for years – sprout easily after a fire. The same is true for the Lodgepole Pine out west. In fact, it’s cones require fire heat to release seeds. So yes, fires play a key role. I also wonder the humidity and the denseness of the forest understory in Vermont impact the number and size of woodland wildflowers, i.e. not as much space to grow as out west. Something to investigate, for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m enjoying finding and learning names of new wildflowers – still want to find Dutchman’s Britches and Lady Slippers, not just for the names but also because they’re cool-looking flowers – but yeah, I get a little nostalgic when my Kindle Fire keeps showing me photos from years past each day, and this time of year, they’re mostly of forest wildflowers in Idaho. As for Trillium – Vermont definitely has Idaho beat on that score!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love those trilliums with the painted centers! The story of the bluets was interesting. We sometimes forget where a name originated so thanks for finding out for your readers. It looks so quiet and peaceful there.

    Liked by 1 person

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