Monday, June 13, 2016

When's that? #phenology

One week from today is Summer Solstice, the astrological beginning of Summer. I'm sure you know that meteorological Summer started on June 1st. The fact that there are at least 2 "official" starts to Summer, plus Memorial Day or whichever bit of local folklore identifies the time of last frost, may help explain why Clayton R. Oslund doesn't provide dates or even months in his What's Doin' the Bloomin'? Instead, his "seasons" are:
  • Spring Before Leaves (The Ephemerals)
  • Shade has Come to the Forest (The Calendar still says Spring)
  • Summer Heat
  • Signs of Autumn
Large-flowered Beardtongue in bloom
Large-flowered Beardtongue in bloom
Photo by J. Harrington

The "Summer Heat" section lists Large-flowered Beardtongue and Goat's Beard in the early pages of that section. On our little piece of sand plain those plants start blooming in early June. Then, being quite literal, we'll assume "Shade" refers to leaf-out and beyond, not bud burst. I have to admit that I've learned more, and had more fun, figuring out some basics and basis for Oslund's seasons than I do looking up What's Blooming on Minnesota Wildflowers. Further proof, if any's needed, that we all learn differently and many (all?) of us learn different things in different ways.

hoary alyssum blooms, with ladybug
hoary alyssum blooms, with ladybug
Photo by J. Harrington

I'm finding that, as I learn more about phenology, I want to be able to see broad patterns and general sequences, plus be able to look up details from a good index or by date. All of which still leaves me with many unanswered questions such as "in which month do the most yellow flowers bloom"; or "red"; or "blue?" It's easy to search by color or by month, but not both. Sometimes it's important to be able to cross-check blooming times and blossom colors. I just noticed that Oslund lists hoary alyssum in the "Signs of Autumn" section. I had thought that's what I've been seeing bloom in June on our property. Could I be in error? Is that possible? Or is Minnesota Wildflowers more accurate with its listing of April through October as alyssum's blooming period? I'm going with the latter rather than admitting error. Perhaps in my next incarnation I'll get a botany degree.

Today, instead of sharing a written poem here, try this link and listen to Mary Oliver read her "The Summer Day" (aka "The Grasshopper")

********************************************
Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.