Spring Flowers Blooming at Little Buffalo State Park

Yesterday we saw more than a dozen spring flowers in bloom at Little Buffalo State Park.

It’s a wonderful time to take the short walk on the Mill Race Trail at the Day Use Area. The Day Use Area at Little Buffalo has picnic tables, a playground, bathrooms, and access to a few trails.

On the way driving to the park we saw huge stands of Dutchman’s breeches blooming along the rocks on the north-east side of Juniata River in Perry County near Newport, PA.

Mill Race Trail – April 28, 2015

Flowers in Bloom

Trout Lily and Bloodroot
Trout Lily and Bloodroot
  • trout lily
  • bloodroot
  • hepatica
  • spring beauty
  • coltsfoot
  • spicebush
  • corydalis
  • miterwort
  • cut-leaved toothwort
  • common blue violet
  • yellow violet
  • light blue violet
  • dandelion
  • mouse-eared chickweed
  • Pennsylvania bittercress
  • ground ivy

I’m guessing that if you don’t make it to the park to see these pretty spring flowers by this weekend, you’ll miss the hepatica and spicebush. Probably won’t see but a few of the bloodroot in flower.

I saw only one cut-leaved toothwort flowering. It blended in well with a mass of spring beauties, so maybe there were lots of others that I didn’t see.

Flowers in Bud

Two Mayapple Plants with Flower Buds
Two Mayapple Plants with Flower Buds

Plants that had flower buds present but not yet open included:

  • wild ginger
  • mayapple
  • Soloman’s seal
  • stonecrop
  • Japanese barberry
  • garlic mustard

The only spring-flowering plant that’s already past the blooming stage is skunk cabbage. You can see its large oval leaves near the creek.

Other Flowers in Bloom

Near houses there were tons of ornamental trees and shrubs in bloom on the way to the park, especially:

  • magnolias – white and pink
  • ornamental pear – white
  • weeping cherry – pinks
  • crabapples – pinks
  • dogwoods are just starting to bloom pink or white
  • forsythia bushes are golden yellow everywhere

On a back road I stopped to see a patch of rue anemone reflecting white with their little green centers.

Our cherry and peach trees are blooming as is the Star Magnolia. Lilac flower buds promise more beauty to come!

Bluet Colony Growing Well on the Mountain Ridge

Evidently, I planted these little cuties in an acceptable place for they are growing and multiplying each year.

A small sample of bluets was planted in the middle of the side yard with no special care in April 2010. I figured that they were already growing wild so the plants should do alright without fertilizing them.

Small Transplanted Bluet Colony in 2011
Small Transplanted Bluet Colony in 2011

The original plant colony was growing in a field pretty close to the river where they received full sun.

Their new location provides about 50% sun with shade from large trees in the morning and shade later in the day from the garage. Also, the location is on a rocky mountain ridge, not in a river bottom, so the quality of the soil is surely different.

I planned for the unexpected find that day when we were driving around looking for spring flowers. By carrying my trusty pocketknife in a front pocket and a plastic grocery sack in a rear jeans pocket, I was prepared. Thanks, Dad! Learning to Be Prepared! was one of the great things you taught me.

By the way those plastic bags are great for transporting plants and even for holding them temporarily. The bags without holes are keepers! They will help keep plants moist during transport and they cut down on the mess in your car, too. Always keep a few plastic bags stowed in a seat pocket for your outings.

I used the pocketknife to dig around a quarter-sized clump. The soil was moist and it was easy to lift out the clump and place it in the plastic bag for the quick trip home.

No fertilizing or real digging of the ground was done like I’d do for a transplanted annual. A hole just big enough for the roots was scooped out and the plant was sunk in there and the top soil put back and tamped down.

Each year the mass of bluets grows. The colony of little flowers now stretches over a foot across with many satellite plants extending the colony to new areas.

Bluet Colony in 2014
Bluet Colony in 2014

The mass of bluets do provide a lot of smiles. They will be blooming for another week at least and were a happy addition to the mountain top.

I’m curious though, does anyone else have these little blooms popping up in their yard? Or know where a field of them shine?

Flower Poetry Fridays: Minerva’s Prize

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.


MINERVA, a visit to Flora once made,
When the flowers, in a body, their compliments
And, charmed with their manners, and elegant
Desired she might give to the fairest a prize ;
Appointing a day, when herself should preside,
And on their pretensions to beauty decide.

Confident  rose.
Confident rose.

Then the Rose bridled up, with a confident
As if she would say,— Who with me shall com-
pare ?

While the Lily, but newly come out as a bride,
Whisper’d low to her sisters, and laugh’d at
such pride.
The Hyacinth studied her wardrobe with care,
Still puzzled to settle what colors to wear ;
The Poppy, ashamed of her dull, sleepy eyes,
Wore a new scarlet dress, with a view to the

Then flock’d the Anemones, fair to behold,
With the rich Polyanthus, in velvet, and gold ;
And the Tulip came flaunting, and waving her
And turned up her nose at the Daffodil clan.

Tulips Rise Above Daffodils
Tulips Rise Above Daffodils

The buds who were thought by their mothers
too young,
Round their sister’s toilettes discontentedly
hung ;
There was teazing, and dressing, and prinking
The pretty Quill-Daisies each bought a new
The stately Carnations stood frizzing their hair,
And the tall London-pride, choosing feathers
to wear.
The Pink at her mirror was ready to drop,
And the Snow-ball bought rouge at a milliner’s
While in the same square, at a shoe-store so
The trim Lady-Slippers were pinching their
Thrifty Lilac acknowledg’d her robe was not
But with turning and furbishing thought it
might do ;
While the queer Ragged-Lady, who pass’d for
a poet,
Sat darning her hose, and wish’d no one to
know it ;
And Fox-Glove, who sometimes had furnished
a sonnet,
Was tying new bows on a fanciful bonnet.
The green-house exotics, in chariots, went by,
For their delicate nerves feared each frown of
the sky,
While from her low cottage of moss on the
The Violet look’d up and admired the bright
Not thinking to join in a circle so gay,
Or dreaming that she had a charm to display ;
Minerva's Prize Goes To The Violet
Minerva’s Prize Goes To The Violet

Beside a sick bud she preferred to attend,
Which down to the dust its pale forehead would
But judge how this splendid conventicle stared,
When Minerva the prize to the Violet declar’d !
Remarking, though beauties and graces were
That " Modesty ever to her was most fair. "
And distinctly pronounced, in the hearing of all,
That "the humble must rise, and the arrogant

The humble violet won the prize because of her modesty. She didn’t think she was fit to join in the parade of dazzling blooms and instead she performed the selfless act of caring for a dying friend.

There were a dozen other flowers who could have won the prize if it were only based on beauty. You know, the kind you see in a mirror.

Minerva equated arrogance with the flowers spending all their time and money to display their colorful robes. Instead, she chose modesty for her model of true beauty.

Modesty trumps beauty. Well, at least in poetry it can.

With air-brushed super models in every ad and Hollywood polluting our collective image of desirable qualities in people, we’re supposed to think that we too could look like that if we only tried their product. Yeah, right.

When you ask your mirror “Who is the fairest in the land?” are you seeking only outward beauty? Don’t worry, be happy! Beauty is only skin deep, as they say. The people who matter in your life will see you for the beauty you have that doesn’t reflect in a mirror.

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “King Frost and the Garden Beauties”.

Find Hepatica Blooms Hiding in the Woods

Every Spring I venture into the woods looking for one of my favorite flowers, Hepatica. You have to be a good flower hunter to find it.

Single Hepatica Leaf and Flower
Single Hepatica Leaf and Flower

It’s a small plant so you need to be fairly close to it to see one. The leaves that have overwintered are typically hidden, at least in part, by the brown tree leaves on the ground.

If you’re close to a plant the bits of green can catch your eye among the browns and greys of the forest floor.

Hepatica Flowers Rising Through Oak Leaves on the Forest Floor
Hepatica Flowers Rising Through Oak Leaves on the Forest Floor

Of course, the easiest way to see hepatica is to remember where you’ve seen it last. Being a perennial the greenery can be seen in many seasons but the flowers are only out in April.

The flowers may attract your attention being a light purple and ranging from deep purple-blue to light bluish-white. It’s amazing how well colors can blend into the shadows, so don’t rely only on color to find hepatica.

It is easier to spot the flowers on a sunny day as the blooms will be open in the sunshine. Clouds and nighttime will see the petals closing up toward the center of the flower.

Take time looking around the base of large trees for hepatica. I’ve often found them in these protected spots. If you find one plant, look some more. There will be others so watch your step!

Hepatica Flowering  at the Base of a Tree
Hepatica Flowering at the Base of a Tree

Their size is small, as that’s probably the biggest factor in locating hepatica. Flowers are about an inch across when full-sized and fully opened. Maybe they’re pea-sized when closing up.

Having said that, realize that once you have your “search pattern” down – like after you find that first one your brain knows what to look for – you’ll be able to see more hepatica blooming in the woods.

The good news is we still have a couple of weeks in Central Pennsylvania to go and seek Hepatica before their blooming period is done.

Flower Poetry Fridays: The Desert Flower

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.


Desert White Cactus
Desert White Cactus

A WEARY course the traveller held,
As on with footstep lone,
By scientific zeal impelled,
He tracked the torrid zone.

Sad thought was with his native glades,
His father’s pleasant halls,
Where darkly peer, through woven shades,
The abbey’s ivied walls.

Yet to the far horizon’s bound,
Far as the glance could sweep,
The sandy desert spread around,
Like one vast, waveless deep.

What saw he ‘mid that dreary scene,
To wake his rapture wild ?
A flower ! A flower ! with glorious mien,
Like some bright rainbow’s child.

Kneeling, he clasped it to his breast,
He praised its wondrous birth,
Fair, fragile, beautiful, and blest,
The poetry of earth.

No secret fountain through its veins
Sustaining vigor threw,
No dew refreshed those arid plains,
Yet there the stranger grew.

It seemed as if some tender friend,
Beloved in childhood’s day,
A murmur through those leaves did send,
A smile to cheer his way ;

And fervently a prayer for those,
In his own distant bower,
Like incense from his heart uprose,
Beside that Desert Flower.

For thus do Nature’s hallowed charms
Man’s softened soul inspire,
As to the infant in her arms,
The mother points its sire.

In the middle of the desert it probably feels like the sand can go on and on and that tan is about the only color around.

A flower amongst the waves of sand must look glorious — even if it were pure white.

Isn’t it curious that a flower could bloom in such an arid place? Even without dew to refresh its beauty? However it happened to be there, the flower brought a smile and some cheer to the weary traveler.

Flowers cheer me all the time! You don’t have to get lost in the desert to appreciate the beauty of flowers. Just look around you and you’ll see them.

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “Minerva’s Prize”.

Flower Poetry Fridays: The Dahlia and Verbena

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.


Maroon and White Dahlias
Colorful Dahlias

A TALL and richly drest Dahlia boasted. She
lifted up her head haughtily, as though she felt
herself a queen. Her lips moved, and she was
heard thus to soliloquize :—
     " I alone, of all the flowers around, am truly
beautiful. Which of them can compare with
me, in elegance of dress, or dignity of deport-
     Yet I suffer for want of society. I cannot
associate with those around, who are destitute
of my accomplishments.
     Here is an insipid Verbena at my feet, al-
ways trying to be sociable. She is so ill-bred
as to smile, when I meet her eye, as if she
were an acknowledged acquaintance.
     It is in vain that I strive to convince her of
her vulgarity. I cannot even look down with
out seeing her. I wish she would move away,
and give place to some neighbor, more proper
for one of my rank.
     I doubt whether she even knows that my
name is Lady Liverpool. I will throw her
a withering frown, and see if it is not possible
to repel her advances."
     That night there came an early frost. The
splendid robes of the Dahlia were ruined by
its chilling touch. She hung her head in bit-
terness, and was ashamed to be seen.
     But the little pale-cheeked Verbena, whom
she had so long despised, looked meekly up,
and spoke kind and cheering words. It had
been sheltered from the frost by the drapery
of its proud neighbor.
     Forgetting the disdainful demeanor of the
Dahlia, it tenderly ministered to its sorrows,
and sent up its sweetest perfumes, to cheer
her, like a cloud of incense.
     And as I bent down, admiring its sympathy,
there seemed to come from its meek example,
a gentle voice, " Go thou and do likewise."

Somehow, the meek Verbena was really good at letting the disdainful words of the Dahlia roll off her back. For at the end she comforted her cruel neighbor.

Being able to give such sweet offerings to one that despised her, the Verbena teaches us a lesson on sympathy.

Genuine care for her fellow flower. Let’s hope this catches on!

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “The Desert Flower”.

Flower Poetry Fridays: The Cactus Speciosissimus

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.


Cactus speciosissimus lateritius. By Edwards (Edwards’s Botanical Register vol. 19, plate 1596.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Cactus speciosissimus lateritius. By Edwards (Edwards’s Botanical Register vol. 19, plate 1596.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

WHO hung thy beauty on such rugged stalk,
Thou glorious flower ?
          Who poured the richest hues,
In varying radiance, o’er thine ample brow,
And, like a mesh, those tissued stamens laid
Upon thy crimson lip ?
          Thou glorious flower !
Methinks it were no sin to worship thee,
Such passport hast thou from thy Maker’s
To thrill the soul. Lone, on thy leafless stem,
Thou bidd’st the queenly rose, with all her
Do homage, and the greenhouse peerage bow
Their rainbow coronets.
          Hast thou no thought ?
No intellectual life ? thou who can’st wake
Man’s heart to such communings ? no sweet
With which to answer him ? ‘T would almost
That so much beauty needs must have a soul,
And that such form as tints the gazer’s dream,
Held higher spirit than the common clod
On which we tread.
          Yet while we muse, a blight
Steals o’er thee, and thy shrinking bosom
The mournful symptoms of a wan disease.—
I will not stay to see thy beauty fade.
——Still must I bear away within my heart
Thy lesson of our own mortality ;
The fearful withering of each blossomed bough
On which we lean, of every bud we fain
Would hide within our bosoms from the touch
Of the destroyer.
          So instruct us, Lord !
Thou Father of the sunbeam and the soul,
Even by the simple sermon of a flower,
To cling to Thee.

A common theme in Mrs. Sigourney’s writing is the mortality that we’re all strapped with and her desire to communicate with her Maker.

Contemplating flowers, in all their beauty, one can’t help but eventually contemplate one’s own mortality. As the seasons pass we see beautiful flowers arise from little buds, have their time in the sun, and disappointingly fade away too soon.

A plant as sturdy-looking as a cactus won’t last forever either as it’s a mere Mortal Being.

Once a flower has bloomed to help produce the next generation, its time is limited.

We all have our time in the sun, as in our youth, and we all have our time of demise.

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “The Dahlia and Verbena”.