Saturday, May 18, 2024

Pic(k) of the Week: "Early Azalea" blossom

"Early Azalea" blossom

A native early azalea shrub blooms in the Trailhead Community Park, of the East Decatur Greenway: City of Decatur, Georgia, USA. 5 April 2024.
Rhododendron prinophyllum —commonly known as the early azalea, roseshell azalea, woolly azalea — is a rhododendron species in the heather family (Ericaceae), native to the eastern and southern United States, found in damp thickets, open woods, and along streams.

Rhododendron prinophyllum is a woody, spreading, deciduous shrub that grows 2 to 8 feet in height. The flowers, light pink to purplish in color, appear in early spring before the emergence of the foliage. The flowers have a pleasant, clove-like fragrance, and are up to 1½-inches long (4 cm), with protruding stamens and 4-5 petals occurring in large clusters. The foliage is smooth and blue-green, and turns purplish in fall.
North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

And, as a bonus image, a bud of an early azalea, pre-bloom...

"Early Azalea" bud


About the accompanying music

The tune is Up Jumped Spring, a jazz waltz composed by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, performed on his album Backlash from 1966/67. Belying the the piece's 3/4 time, Hubbard's playing is crisp and driving, leavened with a joyful sense of dance and melody. Mix that with James Spaulding's sprightly flute, the left-hand comping and right-hand runs of pianist Albert Daily, and the powerful backbeat of bassist Bob Cunningham and drummer Otis Ray Appleton: it's a crystalline masterpiece (and, yes, appropriate to this week's image!). The tune has since become a standard in the jazz repertoire.


Saturday, May 11, 2024

Pic(k) of the Week: Small Venus' looking-glass

Small Venus' looking-glass

Look down! It's a tiny, native 'weed' with a sublime name:
"Small Venus' Looking-Glass."

Seen blooming alongside a sidewalk in the City of Avondale Estates, Georgia, USA. 6 May 2024.
Triodanis perfoliata — commonly known as Clasping bellflower, Clasping bellwort, or Small Venus' looking-glass — is a small, annual flowering plant belonging to the bellflower family (Campanulaceae), native to North and South America (from Canada to Argentina). It grows in prairies, along the edges of woods and rocky outcrops, and in disturbed soil, such as roadsides [and sidewalks!].

Triodanis perfoliata grows to a height of 4-18 inches (10–46 cm). On the upper part of the stem, the plant produces bell-shaped five-petaled flowers, approximately ½ inch or less across (1.3 cm), that range in color from blue-violet to pink-purple to lavender, with a white center. There are also flowers on the lower part of the stem but they do not open. These are cleistogamous — automatic self-pollinators that produce seeds.
North Carolina Cooperative Extension



Saturday, May 04, 2024

Pic(k) of the Week: Winter red bud

Winter red bud

A native 'Rising Sun' eastern redbud tree, blooming on a lazy day in late winter. Or was it early spring?

The Trailhead Community Park of the East Decatur Greenway in the City of Decatur, Georgia, USA. 7 March 2024.

Cercis canadensis —commonly known as the eastern redbud tree— is a large deciduous shrub or small tree in the legume family (Fabaceae), native to eastern North America from southern Michigan south to central Mexico, and as far west as New Mexico. It generally has a short, often twisted trunk and spreading branches.

The Rising Sun Redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘JN2’) is a smaller variety of the more common Eastern Redbud, growing only to about 8-12 feet in height (2.5-3.5 m). In early spring, the tree bursts into bloom before the leaves appear, with tiny, sweet pea-like flowers of lavender-pink hue. This spectacle is followed by the emergence of heart-shaped leaves, which start as a vibrant shade of apricot-orange. As the season progresses, the leaves transition through shades of yellow, gold, and finally, a rich, deep green.
Nature is a Blessing.



Saturday, April 27, 2024

Pic(k) of the Week: Vernal honesty

Vernal honesty

Pastel delights
Singing aubade
In vernal chorus, assembled.

Wildflowers called honesty(!), blooming in mid-spring morning light.

Dearborn Park: City of Decatur, Georgia, USA. 20 April 2024.

Lunaria annua —commonly known as annual honesty, dollar plant, honesty, lunaria, money plant, moneywort, moonwort, silver dollar— is a species of flowering plant in the cabbage and mustard family (Brassicaceae). It is native to southern Europe but is cultivated throughout the temperate world.

The plant grows up to 3 feet tall (90 cm). In spring and summer, it bears terminal racemes [short stalks] of white or violet flowers. The fruits appear in midsummer. They are paper-thin, flat, silver dollar-sized fruits, called siliques, that become white-translucent with age, resembling a full moon or coin, hence some of the common names of the plant. Another common name, 'honesty,' relates to the translucence of the plant's silique membranes, which 'truthfully' reveal their contents.
North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

Silver dollars



Saturday, April 20, 2024

Pic(k) of the Week: Riparian ragwort

Riparian ragwort

In early spring, tall, yellow ragwort wildflowers were growing abundantly in the wetlands of Glenn Creek.

Ira B. Melton Park, in DeKalb County, Georgia, USA. 22 March 2023.
Packera anonyma — commonly known as Small's Ragwort, Appalachian Ragwort, Southern Ragwort, Plain Ragwort — is a wildflower in the aster family (Asteraceae), native to much of the eastern United States, south of New England.

Small's Ragwort flourishes in habitats that are wet during the winter and dry in summer and is one of the first native flowers to bloom in abundance, beginning in March and continuing into June. The ray and disc flowers are bright yellow, 8-15 rays per flower. The plant grows up to 3 feet tall (1 m).
North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

Seen alongside the Three Creeks Trail, a "labyrinth of soft-surfaced trails" in and around a 120-acre Piedmont forest in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. The trail connects Ira B. Melton Park to the larger Mason Mill Park. The three creeks of the trail's name are Glenn Creek, Burnt Fork Creek, and South Fork Peachtree Creek; the first two are tributaries of the much larger third.