As reported a month back, Hepatica, Harbinger-of-Spring, and a Star Chickweed were blooming at The Pocket at the end of January as a result of our unusually warm winter. We had some cold weather in February, and nothing much had changed in mid-February. My wife and I were out of town for a couple of weeks, so when we returned yesterday, I was anxious to see what had developed in our absence. While the boardwalk itself doesn’t show too much action, there is a lot that is cranking up both on the trail to the bottom of the falls past the end of the boardwalk and on the Pocket Loop Trail (aka the horse trail) up to the top of the falls.
Bloodroot – Sanguinaria canadensis
Yes, Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is blooming along the horse trail – I haven’t see it this early in four years, implying (as expected) an early spring this year.
As reported a couple of weeks ago, we’ve had a VERY warm winter, with Hepatica and Harbinger of Spring blooming when I visited The Pocket on January 30 – the earliest I’ve ever seen native wildflowers blooming at The Pocket. We finally had some “real winter” in the weeks since then, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I visited The Pocket today. That cold snap slowed things down, but there is some progress. If your “thing” is to see Harbinger of Spring at peak, or to see the waterfalls with a really good flow, this is a good time to visit The Pocket.
Who would expect Hepatica to be blooming in January? Today my wife and I wanted to enjoy a beautiful day with some time outside, so we decided to go down to The Pocket for a walk on the boardwalk. The earliest I’ve seen Harbinger of Spring blooming down there previously was Feb 9 (back in 2009), but as warm as it’s been I wasn’t going to be surprised if we found that early bloomer with flowers. But I wasn’t expecting this:
While some of the early bloomers are gone – no more Dutchman’s Breeches, for example – this is STILL a great time for a visit to The Pocket. My growing wildflower checklist for The Pocket is up to 59 species now, and 41 of them are blooming now, even though a few of those are almost gone. If you want to see Bluebells, better hurry; they are declining fast. The Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) are gone, and I only saw one small patch of Carolina Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana). All three Trillium species are still in full glory, but probably the dominant species blooming right now are Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata), and Purple Phacelia (Phacelia bipinnatifida), which you’ll see all along the Pocket Road on your way in to the parking area.
This is a great time for a visit to The Pocket; I hadn’t been able to get down there in nearly 3 weeks (apologies to those that were looking for a status report last week) and so many species are blooming now! Bluebells, Wood Poppies (Celandine), Purple Phacelia, and all three Trillium species are at peak, along with a couple of others that aren’t considered “signature species” for The Pocket.
Today (3/16) was beautiful – clear skies and about 70 degrees by noon. The weather had been pretty warm for several days, with a lot of rain showers over those several days, so I was hopeful that things would have picked up a bit from my last report on 3/7. And had it! Of the 53 species on my current version of my wildflower checklist for The Pocket, we (my wife, a lovely homeschool group we met up with, and I) found 13 blooming right now.
Today (3/07/15) was one of the rare days so far this year – mostly clear skies and warmer weather – into the 60’s. That made for a great day to get down to The Pocket for a status update. There’s not a lot of change concerning which species are blooming (with an exception) – but those that have been blooming are picking up the pace a lot. The one new species I found blooming – Carolina Spring Beauty; a single plant along the trail to the falls.
Even though it’s been 2 ½ weeks since the last report, there is little change to report from then. Probably shouldn’t be a surprise considering the last couple of weeks have included long stretches where it didn’t get above freezing, multiple nights with lows in the single digits, and a snow of over 7”. Still, I was hoping for a little more action.
Today (2/11) was sunny and unseasonally warm (62 degrees by late afternoon) for February, but much colder weather is forecast – tomorrow topping out in the 30s. Since we’ve been out of town for several days, I figured I should take this opportunity to check to see if the wildflowers are starting to show up at The Pocket. I was expecting to see Harbinger-of-Spring and that other harbinger of spring, Hepatica blooming, and kind of expected to see some Toothwort blooming. Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.
It’s been nearly two weeks since I have been to The Pocket, and things are changing. Several others of the “signature species” are waning – Virginia Bluebell, and Wood (Celandine) Poppy are almost gone, but all three of the Pocket’s three Trillium species are still blooming right now. Now is the time to head to The Pocket if you want to see the Trillium flexipes display – they’re at peak, but beginning to show some signs of age.