Back in 2012, to my delight, Spring arrived early in the mountains of Appalachia. By mid-March, the bloodroot and trout lilies–the first flowers of spring– had already bloomed and were on their way to seed! Spring was suddenly advancing quickly, and I wanted to be outdoors to welcome it. At about the same time, I got my first digital camera, and I was anxious to try it out. So, I set a goal and settled on a long-term project…
My plan was to photograph all the wildflowers I could find in my little part of southwest Virginia that year. I wanted to learn them by name, discover what I could about their timing and uses, and keep a photo journal of them by season.
So I got started snapping pictures in March and time flew by. The parade of woodland wildflower species faltered once the tree canopy filled in, but then suddenly the fields and roadsides lit up with color and I found myself stalking the flowers that loved open sunshine too. Spring gave way to summer, and summer to fall. By November, I was still at it, photographing late-blooming color whenever I could find it, as well as the seed pods of things that had flowered earlier in the year. By then I had a backlog of pictures that I had not yet posted or even identified in some cases, so my project slowly crept into wintertime as I attempted to catch up.
As spring approached again, I knew there were holes in my journal. I was missing clear photos of many species or in some cases I was missing the species altogether. I decided to do what I could to fill in the holes by retracing some of my steps from last year. But when March rolled around, spring was late. Almost nothing was in bloom until April, and once the progression of wildflowers finally did begin, there were fits and starts as the cold weather advanced and retreated. I gained a new appreciation for the spread of bloom dates that I always see in field guides (e.g. March-June): apparently those spreads reflect not only variation due to latitude and elevation, but also variations in weather from year to year.
I am still finding new species and adding them to the blog when I can, and believe it or not, I am now approaching my seventh spring on this project. My original plan to have a photo journal entitled something like “A Year in Wildflowers” will, in all likelihood, take more time to pull off!
If you are game for the adventure, you can “follow” along with me as I add more species and photos to this blog, and you can also try to spot these beauties blooming in your own neck of the woods. Wildflowers are awesome, and I continue to be amazed at the sheer diversity of species that can be found on the east coast of the United States.
To navigate this site, you can go directly to the ALL FLOWERS section in the top menu. You’ll see a complete listing of species there (by season). To some extent, you can also search by color, or by common or scientific name if you know it. Just click on the SEARCH tab in the main menu, or plug your key word into the “Search” widgets you’ll find at the bottom of any page.
Last but not least– a selection of local fungi have made their way onto this site (fungi are like that!). That’s because I ran into a few members of the New River Valley Mushroom Club while I was out in the woods –and it didn’t take long for their enthusiasm to rub off on me too!
Welcome to Virginia Wildflowers– I hope you enjoy your visit!
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