May 15, 2011

A Walk in the Woods: Spring Flowers

One of the great delights of walking through the woods at this time of year are the wildflowers that bloom in profusion. The lovely small Spring Beauty almost blankets a section of the path. Its flowers are sprightly, with delicate pink veins decorating the white petals. They seem a symbol of good cheer in the woods as daffodils are in the garden.

Bellwort's graceful pale cream flowers and long leaves nod alongside a stone wall.

This frothy flower reminds me of the wild Lily of the Valley, but its leaves and flower shape are different. It was rare in the woods last week, and I wasn't able to identify it.

While blue and white violets are now blooming in my lawn, the yellow violets are in the woods. Like all the flowers above, they are small but have a large presence as their color brightens the dun forest floor.

My favorite flowers in the woods in spring, which I look forward to seeing with great anticipation, are the red Trillium. They are a grand flower, majestic in their simplicity––three petals surrounded by three sepals, three leaves coming from a center––and regal in their deep rich color. They sometimes grow very large, as in the group above, which was a foot across, and sometimes they are smaller. Whatever size, it is always a thrill for me to see them; they announce, in impressive fashion, that spring has arrived.


  1. Nice walk! The white frothy one is Dwarf Ginseng, Panax trifolium. And the violet (they're often very hard to id, but this one looks easy) is probably the Smooth Yellow Violet. If it's smooth, which it looks to be, yes? Was it in moist woods or dry?

    The pink stamens of Spring Beauty are one of my favorite things, along with the blue ones of Jacob's Ladder (in the garden soon.)

  2. Thank you for allowing us to walk with you in the woods. Woodland flowers are such a treasure.

  3. Susan, thanks for the id of Dwarf Ginseng. As for the yellow violets, they were along the path, so I guess it was dryish, but with this wet season, who knows?
    Raining, I'm glad you enjoyed the walk; it's a pleasure to share it.

  4. Lovely flower captures, Altoon. Did you walk today in the rain? Too wet for me: I had to hole up in the studio to forget the wetness for a while.

  5. You mention the word regal in connection with the trilliums--that was also the first word that popped into my mind. Watching "the Borgias" last night, it makes me think that spring walks in the Italian countryside may have also informed the scarlet of the cardinals robes...

    Your photographs of the flowers also put me in mind of botanical drawings--their elegant lines make me want to pull out my watercolors.

  6. thanks Maggie. I was indoors working today too; the rain was much too heavy to think of a walk.
    Hannah, the flowers do invite study, whether with a photograph or a watercolor.

  7. I have a tiny little plant of spring beauty that arrived over the fence from my neighbor's garden. It must be wonderful to see a good sized clump of them in the woods. And the pink stamens are quite lovely; can't think of any other flower that has pink stamens.

  8. The red trillium are gorgeous. They'd look wonderful growing in the woods by my lake.
    Is it possible to share a root cutting?
    Many years ago, Ann Shapiro gave me a single plant of pink lily of the valley. Now its offspring grace the feet of my row of hemlock trees. I always pull a small bunch for the kitchen, its sweet fragrance is heavenly.

  9. Ms. Wis, the Spring Beauty are less clumps than widely scattered, so very bright on the ground. And I agree that the stamens are wonderful.
    A., I looked up transplanting trillium and it seems that they're not easy to transplant, and it should be done after flowering. As for lily of the valley, I have masses of white ones, but they are just starting to come up and won't bloom for a while. It's amazing how just a few sprigs will send their fragrance through the house.