Well, we just endured one of the warmest March weeks in New England since records began to be kept. Ice is out on most major lakes, and for many it was the earliest ever. Migrating birds have begun to return, and a spring chorus wakes me in the morning, with cardinals, phoebes and robins leading the way. In the evening, it resumes, completed with spring peepers, wood frogs and woodcocks. All this is well ahead of the normal schedule.
My favorite thing about spring is always the wildflowers that race to bloom in the forests before the canopy leafs out. The cues to start heading to the woods are the crocuses blooming, and by last weekend, they were out enjoying the first days of the warm stretch. It just kept getting warmer through the week though, and though I couldn’t get out to my Hepatica covered hillside until Friday, the bloom cycle wouldn’t wait. By midweek, the maples had popped and daffodils arrived, and by friday, the magnolia trees had started to open up. All this is WAY ahead of last year.
As I drove into the back entrance of Pawtuckaway on Friday, a patch of Colt’s foot was blooming along the road. I found the hillside covered in sporadic flowers, but the full bloom hadn’t yet arrived. Which is probably a good thing for the flowers, as they are blooming 20 days earlier than last year, and 11 days earlier than I’d ever found them in this location.
Will spring continue to race ahead…likely not, which has me concerned. Two years ago, the fruit trees bloomed early, and a late frost killed the apple crop for the year. But humans aren’t the only species that takes advantage of the fruits and flowers. Early blooms can happen before migrations that have long been in sync. Birds and butterflies may be pinched out of a usual food source, leading to a failed breeding year.
And cold weather is forecast, with temperatures in the twenties forecaster for lows early this coming weeks…which is of course…normal!
How will the rest of this spring wildflower season play out…we’ll have to wait and see…but I do know my expectations are not likely to match my experiences!