This is it--the big week of the year for ephemeral wildflowers. The show has been building and it's full-on flowers right now. Every color and every size and shape.
These flowers show themselves for such a short time you have to take advantage of every chance you get to see them. The forest seems like a deliberately designed garden in places. I guess that shouldn't seem surprising. Mother Nature does that sort of thing.
Each year the flower show progressses at a slightly different pace. This year there was nothing and then all of a sudden there were Trillium and Dutchman's Breeches everywhere. There have been Violets galore--I've seen white ones, yellow ones, blue ones and the dainty, spurred lavender ones. The Bloodroot has mostly gone but in its peak I noticed several of the pristine white flowers with petals that had been nibbled by some small creature. Since many of these plants are edible and medicinal maybe the mice are taking advantage of the resources at ground level. When you get down close and look you see all sorts of insects busily carrying out whatever part they play in the wildflowers' life cyles.
The spring wildflowers are special because many of them leaf out, flower and then the foliage disappears and you don't know they are there until the next year. They need sun in the springtime and then cool, shady canopy during the summer. They also like the minerals in the soil around rocky ledges combined with the nutritious leaf-litter from the deciduous trees. That's why they are so abundant in the Champlain Valley--they thrive in the same landscape we do. You can find new combinations on almost every local trail. Some of the ephemerals are perennial so you can come back to visit every year. Different elevations have different arrays.
The Jack-in-the-pulpits and Gay Wings and Toothwort are coming on. I've seen one Pale Corydalus and am on the watch for more on dry summits. Saxifrage is almost done but Goldthread and Columbine are starting. There are too many to name. Take a field guide if you go. I love Anne McGrath and Joanne Treff's Wildflowers of the Adirondacks.
While I've been prowling around in search of flowers I've encountered astounding bird choruses, owl pellets, unfolding ferns, red efts, garter snakes, unexpected waterfalls and let's not forget that most of the trees are flowering too. We just don't see them as much since they're up high.
Don't miss the show. After tapering toward the end of May these special little gems will disapper until next year. Luckily we have loads of summer flowers to look forward to.