By Greg Lecker
This Sunday morning, the sun is trying so hard to break through the light cloud cover. Bright yellow forsythia are blooming in the display gardens behind the visitor center and near the parking lot of the shade tree exhibit. Male red-winged blackbirds have returned; and they are calling with buzzing metallic trills.
In the woodland garden, Snow Trillium is still the most obvious bloom.More flowers are on the way. Leaves of trout lily and wild leek leaves inter-mingle amidst spent brown leaf litter. Leaf shape is similar; yet there are ways to tell the difference. Wild leek leaves are mostly solid green with subtle reddish streaking; trout lily leaves are mottled gray green and brown. Trout lily flowers bloom while their leaves are visible, before the leaves disappear. Wild leek flowers emerge only after the leaves disappear.
A pretty blue violet flower has naturalized small portions of the woodland wildflower garden. However, Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) is native to southwestern Russia and Turkey, not Minnesota.
Woodland Poppy and Turk’s Cap Lily foliage has emerged; and their hardy foliage is unshaken by the wind and cold of fickle April.Virginia bluebell foliage is tucked cozily next to a boulder for protection. Flowers won’t emerge until May.
Deeper within the woodland, wild ginger has emerged with folded leaves that resemble snake heads – thus lending the name “Adder Tongue” to the plant.
The woodland stream is flowing strongly, collecting any runoff from the ravine that drains the hills above. Nearby, nestled within the boulders of the woodland seating grove, a few bloodroot flowers have emerged. It has emerged; but the leaves and blossoms are still tightly folded and curled around the stem.
Hepatica flowers have emerged; but they also are closed tightly against the cold and clouds.
In the Capen display garden, prairie smoke and Pasque flowers have begun blooming. They add welcome color. Transplanted two years ago this May, little prickly pear (Opuntia fragilis) has spread out but won’t be blooming for some time. The warm weather forecast for next weekend will be most appreciated.
Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.