|tiny buds |
It wasn't until I got outside and really started looking at how the frost clung to leaves and flowers that I realized that it had been far too long since my last truly connected encounter with the land. It ended up being one of those multi-sensory experiences that I truly cherish.
|Bee Balm seed head, covered in frost|
My "hunt" took place just across the road from my house, in an area with which I have become very familiar over the years. Photographing the flora had me feeling like I was among old friends, and they welcomed me happily, not caring that I had been away for a while. Each plant has its own "personality," both in the growing season and in the quieter times of fall and winter. Sometimes I think it is easier to appreciate the lines and curves of the plants in the dormant season, because most of the color is drained and withered away, leaving only the bare essentials to draw your attention.
Even so, some color remains to enliven the landscape!
Mysterious features become more prominent with frost glistening on them. I found many of these galls on the stalks of goldenrod plants, most of which had a perfect hole drilled right in the center on one side. Downy Woodpeckers and Carolina Chickadees are known to excavate these galls in order to get to the goldenrod gall fly larvae that is contained within. This is a phenomenon I have yet to observe myself, but one I very much hope to see in the future.
Virgin's Bower is one of my absolute favorite flowers to observe in fall and winter. The feathery fronds, to which the plant's seeds are attached, catch the light of sunrise and sunset with perfection, and frost adds yet another dimension of beauty to them.
Teasel is another flower that presents strong architectural interest in fall and winter. Interestingly, the frost made the seed head look much softer than usual, tuning what normally looks like something akin to a porcupine into an object resembling a soft brush. The bracts at the base of the seed head, however, retained their harsh curls, reminding me of Medusa's head of snake hair.
Next, the sun comes out...