Contributor: K.W. Carr
As gardeners and plant-minded people know, different flora emerge at different stages of each season, and so it is with Spring. One of the earliest to bloom in Burnet Woods is the Winter Aconite. Like most early wildflowers, this 3- to 4-inch specimen is low to the ground where it is warmer, but its bright yellow butter-cup flowers catch your eye as you walk by. It is not a native, but it is well behaved and has been a late winter/early spring bloomer in this area for quite some time. A group of Winter Aconite can be seen behind Trailside Nature Center across from the Grotto.
The well-loved Snowdrops, are another early bloomer appearing in various spots in BW. Some can be seen near the lake. It also is low to the ground and has one (or sometimes two) white bell-shaped flowers nodding above and between its green leaves. Snowdrops emerge in late Winter and early Spring. They are native to Europe and the Middle East but now are very common in America.
We are fortunate that Burnet Woods provides a Spring oasis for large concentrations of many native wildflowers. The first native flower to emerge generally is the Harbinger of Spring, or Pepper and Salt, flower. This perennial is a member of the carrot family and is most fond of wooded areas. It is quite diminutive and easily overlooked. The name “Pepper and Salt” comes from its blackish/purplish stems, topped by clusters of flowers with white, teardrop-shaped petals and dark-reddish anthers.
In addition to these beautiful wildflowers, the mallards have been floating about. Mr. Mike is not sure whether all are couples, or some individuals and some pairs. Red-winged Blackbirds are back at the far end of the lake and Cooper’s Hawks have started their nesting activities. Mr. Mike and assistant Jackie also have seen signs of many raccoons during recent hikes.
The lake itself is showing signs of Spring. The lake turns over, literally, from top to bottom, each fall and spring, as a result of warming, cooling and wind that affect the weight and density of the water. This can be hard on fish. Mr. Mike says that the water quality is tested regularly and is quite good. The lake also is stocked each Spring with a variety of fish, including bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish. Unfortunately, sometimes fisher visitors take it upon themselves to introduce other varieties to the lake. This can have problematic consequences such as the introduction of monster catfish or incompatible fish that then decimate the general fish population.
So, take heart! Mr. Mike assures us that it is early Spring in Burnet Woods!
Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 27, 2019, from 11:00am to 2:00pm for Burnet Wood’s Spring Fest – a festival which will offer Spring fun for all ages.
*Content Edited. Photos courtesy of Pixabay