This is Leap Day. For this once-every-four-years day, I thought that rather than the normal Native Plant of the Day (#NPOD on Twitter) I’d post a few native plants from and a report on the early spring status of the wildflowers at one of Georgia’s premier wildflower locations, The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain. As things worked out, Feb 27 was the day available to make the short trek down to that part of Walker County.
It was a beautiful day. When my wife and I headed down to The Pocket on Monday, Feb 27, 2012, we considered both the beautiful day and the time we were able to spend together a blessing from God. We also expected to find wildflowers, since we’ve had very little real winter and quite a warm February. However, we had no idea!
Warning – if you love wildflowers, this post will incite you to visit The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain. Be aware that Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area is now a fee area – check here for more information. Also be forewarned about a couple of breaks in the boardwalk where a couple of trees have fallen through the boardwalk. In one case it’s just a matter of using the trunk of the tree as part of the walk. In the second case, however, you have to make a long step over to the trunk, so if you have mobility problems you might need an assist to get out to the far end of the boardwalk, and that far end is definitely no longer wheelchair accessible. (Update: As of 03/11/2012, the boardwalk has been repaired.)
As I mentioned, my wife and I had no idea how far along the wildflowers would be. We were amazed. Most of the wildflowers that start blooming in early March are already into full swing. I’d estimate that we’re generally about 2 weeks ahead of “normal” this year. Many of the earliest flowers that transition into “lead flower” for a period all seem to be at or near peak right now.
Here are some of the wildflowers we encountered Monday, besides the beautiful Bloodroot in the title section.
While the Bloodroots are at their peak, they are in scattered pockets. Hepatica is also at their peak, but they are everywhere. Most are white like the ones below, but there are many in their various beautiful shades of blue.
Another wildflower that is all over The Pocket is the Carolina Spring Beauty. These early bloomers were not a surprise for us since we noticed Sunday that the Virginia Spring Beauties have started blooming in one of our yards.
There were definitely a couple of surprises. Early along the boardwalk I had noticed the geranium leaves showing up, but I did not expect to find a couple of blooming Geranium maculatum plants in one of the sunny spots.
The biggest surprise, however, was to find a single blooming Dutchman’s Breeches. These normally bloom in mid- to late-March.
While the Star Chickweed isn’t a showy plant, they are quite attractive when you look closely, and they are distributed around much of The Pocket.
The Trout Lilies were adding their lovely muted yellows along the boardwalk and on up to the falls.
One final photo – while these will be quite common all over The Pocket wildflower area a little later in the season, we found one Foamflower blooming along the trail up near the falls.
Here are other species currently blooming:
- Harbinger-of-Spring are typically the earliest blooming native plant, and now they are past their “peak” but many are still blooming, scattered around The Pocket.
Toothworts are at their absolute peak. They are everywhere and really beautiful. The dominant species is Cardamine concatenata – Cutleaf Toothwort.
- I had walked right by one of the few Rue Anemone that were blooming among the sea of Hepatica along the trail to the falls, but Cindy noticed the distinctly different foliage of this small ephemeral.
Virginia Bluebell were primarily in bud form, but a few plants had blossoms fully open.
There were several Wood Poppies blooming.
Spicebush – Lindera benzoin – is at peak bloom.
Blue Cohosh is just beginning to bloom. I particularly like their foliage, too, and there are many plants around, most not yet blooming.
A Robin’s Plantain flower was just opening along the horse trail. I think this is the loveliest of our local Fleabanes, and is especially nice in the pink shade of the immature blossom.
I likely won’t be making as many trips down to The Pocket this year due to the high gasoline prices. The proceeds of the advertising on this site are used to pay for the costs of the website. Anything left over is used to help fund the activities that produce the contents of the site – such as gasoline for the trips to The Pocket. As I move toward retirement later this year we’re moving toward a “pensioner’s budget,” which won’t have as much money for wildflowering trips. Please consider supporting this site by supporting our advertisers that interest you.