Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Flower Phenology, Of A Sort


I returned home from Chicago to find the Pasqueflower open, the forsythia leafed out and tulips budded.

Seems amazingly early to me, but I thought I should dig through all my phenologies to confirm. I've kept a record since 2002 for our house outside the Twin Cities.

I learned a few things doing this:
1) I'm not as good as keeping records as a I thought. For example, in my mind I always note the opening of the pasqueflower as the sure sign of spring. Turns out that I've actually only recorded it for THREE years, including this year. How'd that happen?
2) I've sadly lost (hopefully just misplaced) my records for '04-'06.
3) Phenologies confirmed the association in my mind of pasqueflower and forsythia opening around the same time.
4) I do keep lots of information in the phenologies, but it's not always consistent by species. (some years I may not have noted arrival of bluebirds, or of first baby wrens but did not first wild plum blossoms or first fall frost)

Here's what I do have:
Pasqueflower Opened
2002: April 14 also the 1st 70+ day of that year
2011: April 24 (here's a link to more info on the pasqueflower from my 2011 post)

Here's some detail on the pasqueflower. I love the silky hairs on the petals and the silvery pollen inside.


Forsythia Opened
2002: April 17
2003: April 14, also record high of 89 today
2007: Cold killed forsythia blooms before they opened on April 9
2009: April 17 Of note, released first Pine Siskin fledgling we'd ever had from WRC today
2011: April 24
2012: March 20 (fully opened)

If you don't keep a phenology of your yard I highly recommend it. It's fun to go back and see when the first hummingbirds arrived, or what year it was that you had Scarlet Tanagers in your yard. Or your first bluebird nesting pair. I use it for everything from noting the habits of wildlife, to when I seed and harvest the first greens, tomatoes and other garden veggies.

For my purposes, an appointment-style nature calendar works the best (for 2011 it's one of our local Weatherguide Calendars). Plenty of room to note things and usually there's a timely photo on the left-facing page. Not only that, but they store easily.

Now I just have to remember to write in them more often!

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