anagallis arvensis

A Whole Walkful of Tiny, Pretty Things! (Sigyn Speaks)

Oh, my goodness! The weather has been just beautiful lately! The mornings are nice and cool and the afternoons are sunny and the flowers are just loving it! (Some rain hasn’t hurt, either!)

The human female and I are going for a walk around the neighborhood just to see what’s up. It’s too late for bluets : ( but there is sure to be something nice.

Starting with our very own lawn!

The evening primroses are pinker than they look in the photo, and they are everywhere!

So is the lyre-leaf sage. The ones coming up around the corner by the hose are nearly white, but the ones that have popped up in the lawn are purple, purple, purple.

What’s even nicer is that they’re perennial! Where they are this year, they are very likely to be again next year. When they’re done flowering, I will help the human female transplant them into the flower bed so they don’t get mowed.

That’s what’s good about the spring flora. A lot of it is short enough to pass under a mower largely unscathed. I can see the winecups in the grass of the park before we even get there.

You’d think the bright fuchsia would clash with the nearly-orange scarlet pimpernel (hee hee hee! I almost wrote “pumpernickel”!) but it doesn’t. It just makes a sort of earthbound fiesta.

The blue-eyed grass is open from about midday onwards.

The flowers are always a purply-blue, but in its miniature cousin, the flowers can be yellow, pink, lavender, pale blue, or a sort of bright arctic white, usually with a maroonish eye-ring.

They like a sandy soil, and so do herb sherard and the dwarf dandelions.

Whole sections of the lawn here are lavender and yellow orange. I just never get tired of the dwarf dandelions!

Another sand lover is this eny-weeny member of the carnation family.

I think it’s thyme-leaved sandwort, but I will have to pick a flower and take it home to key out, because there are several species that all look very much alike.

Speaking of itty-bitty white things, look at this dogshade!

It looks like lace, doesn’t it? A lot of the carrot family plants have flowers like this. It’s a good year for this plant–I’m seeing it everywhere! And do you know what? The flowers are sweetly scented! There is enough of it that you can smell these plants just walking by!

We’ve gone around the whole block now and I think we’ve seen just about ev—-

Ooooh! What’s that yellow up ahead?!

You could be forgiven for thinking this is one of the bur-clovers or sweet-clovers, but it’s one of the true clovers, specifically low hop clover, an introduction from Europe. The flowers fade and get all paper-baggy as they age. I like it not only because it’s such a cheerful color, but because the leaflets are heart-shaped and fold up to look like green snowflakes! I just want to give it a hug! But I won’t hug the little barley by my left hand, because it has long awns and is on the far end of the poke-you-in-the-eye scale.

Oh, haven’t we had just the BEST walk? Thanks for coming with me, and always remember to keep an eye on the ground, because you never know what precious jewels will be hidden down there!

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Nerds in the Woods 2019, Part I: Poking at Plants

Longtime readers may recall that Sigyn and I have on more than one occasion accompanied the human female to the annual Nerds in the Woods gathering.  This is a one- or two-day event, during which nerdy naturalists seek to catalog all of the various bloomy, flappy, squiggly, crawly and otherwise organic entities in the local Lick Creek Park.

In the Olden Days, the human female used to head up the plant team.  She spared no efforts, traipsing to remote parts of the part to compile her long lists of herbiage, things with (no doubt made-up) names like “daisy fleabane,” pinweed,” “forked blue curls,” and “rosettegrass.”  Several years ago, I tipped the organizers of the event off to just how hard she worked her fellow volunteers and how tedious she is with her constant bragging about how there are “more plants in the park than anything else, blah, blah, blah…”  So they stopped inviting her.  She volunteered to help out.  They unvolunteered her.  Cue moping, which was more tedious than the endless stream of botanical trivialities.

This year, much to my astonishment and dismay, the local chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas asked her to sit in at their table.  Oh, foolish mortals.  You will now never be free of this tiresome limpet!  Remind me to point and laugh later, when you are ready to stuff socks in her mouth to shut her up,  and remind you that you brought it on yourselves. 

Come Sigyn, let us accompany her.  I know that you are capable of strolling through the woods without nattering on, so for your sake, I will subject myself to a car ride with her.  We can always sneak away from her when we get there.

We are now here.  The NPSOT table is plunked down in the middle of a big patch of this:

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Whatever “this” is…  Do you recognize it, my love?

By Idunn’s little apples!  Sigyn says it is heartwing sorrel, a useful plant to know because the leaves are edible.  I would never have guessed.  My sweetie always knows the best things!  She even says she knows of a good recipe for potato-sorrel soup, something involving heavy cream, chicken stock, potatoes, and this little bit of the wild herbiness.  (You know, once chopped up, one bit of greenery looks much like the next.  I wonder if I could make the human female a pottage of lawn clippings and get her to eat it, telling her it was this?  I bet she’d be half a bowl in before she suspected anything amiss…)

Now the human female is wandering away from the table, tallying up the various species in evidence today.  She and Sigyn have zeroed in on this bright pink posy.

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The human female says it’s a prairie gentian.  It’s not very big, but Sigyn is even less big, so she needs a boost to see the yellow markings on the petals.  There are at least seven species in that photo–it’s a good year for wildflowers!

Come my love, let us leave the human female to her clipboard and census-taking.  While she’s peering at grasses and sedges, let us make our escape.  See–over there?  The electric blue of your favorite, spiderwort.

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The camera scarcely does them justice!

And it would not be spring without the annual Sigyn-admiring-the-scarlet-pimpernel picture.

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Sigyn is making happy squeaky noises at the minuscule yellow Sisyrinchium with the maroon eye-ring too.  She likes the flowers that are “Sigyn-sized.”  Be careful, though, dearest, as some dog-walkers have not heeded the injunction about cleaning up after their pets.  There are fire ants about, as well.

Ah.  No fire ants and no doggie “presents” up here in this juniper tree.  No, nothing but shade and sunshine and a nice breeze and some curious blue-gray berries.

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Yes, dearest, I know they’re not really berries.  They’re “fleshy female cones, each with one to four seeds and a covering of grayish wax. They have traditionally been used to season meat, especially game, and some kinds provide the flavoring for gin.”

What?  I’m not allowed to know botanical facts?  You wound me!  I am a man of many talents and much knowledge!

Also, the human female leaves her books lying about and sometimes I am really bored.

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Again With The No Mint And No Spring

The human female is doing another drive-by, quick-in-and-out visit to Minter Springs—you recall, the typically-stupidly-Midgardian-named place with no mint and no spring.

Oh, wait… I may have spoken too soon.  Sigyn has found something that smells vaguely mintish.  Is it just me, or do the flowers look like hand-puppets?

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Oh, and evidently that is a small one, because she’s found a BIGGER one to climb on.

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How bizarre—it carries its flowers in pom-poms.  I shall call this… poodle mint.

I wonder what else is here?

Well, this looks familiar. Sigyn gets excited about this plant every time she sees it.  I can’t ever remember the name.  Scarlet pumperknuckle, or something like that.

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I think we’ve seen this one before, too.  One does not readily forget such an obnoxious shade of pink.  It’s not a tall plant, but it still towers over my sweetie.

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Even these tiny doll’s daisies tower over her (if she lies on her back.)

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Isn’t there anything new here?  I’m bored.

Oh.  Well, I suppose this is different.  Little pea flowers.  The human female says this is called “pencil flower” because the beans it makes are long and skinny.

I thought it was because the flowers are the color of number two pencils…

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I’m really not comfortable, sitting here with the sun in my eyes.  However, the human female is being bitten to pieces by mosquitoes every second we are here, so it’s all good.

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Tiny Lawn Thingies

The human female says that April is a good time to do some “Belly Botany.”  This means that while she says she is going for a nice, invigorating walk, she really plans to stop every ten feet, squat down on her plump haunches, and peer at people’s lawns.

Why she hasn’t been arrested yet, I have no idea.

Sigyn likes tiny flowers, so the three of us have formed a strange procession.  As I predicted, we have made it no farther than the park on the corner.

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Sigyn thinks the Dwarf Dandelions are “cute.”  I think Sigyn is cute.

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Scarlet Pimpernel, one of Sigyn’s oldest and dearest floral friends.   She looks forward to them every year, and one of my favorite photos of her was taken amidst these grenadine-colored posies.

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Sigyn likes this one because it “looks like lace.”  The God of Mischief does not “do” lace.  I think I may need to go smite something just to keep my virile reputation intact.  Where is Thor when you need him?

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