Beauty in Bloom

Better late than never. The wait is almost over for wildflower and tree enthusiasts who have been patiently waiting for native spring plants to shirk off a harsh winter and display their beautiful blooms.

“Things are a little late this year,” admitted Vienna resident Emily Grafton, a Master Naturalist.

Spring wildflower blooms will likely peak this weekend and next, predicted Grafton, but some areas are already showing off beautiful flowering plants.

Grafton took members of her Mid-Ohio Valley Master Naturalist program to Newells Run last weekend and was able to spot some lovely local wildflowers.

“It’s pretty much just covered with wildflowers,” said Grafton of the road which runs along a creek of the same name.

Most of the flowers along Newells Run grow on private property, but can be seen by parking in a safe location and walking along the road. Grafton reminded flower hunters to be respectful of local property owners.

One of the flowers prominently displayed along the roadway are trillium. These white blooms have three symmetrical petals and are a favorite of wildflower hunters, said Grafton.

The same flowers can currently be found blooming in North Bend State Park, according to Williamstown resident Sue Flowers who visited the park with husband Russ on Easter Sunday.

“We took a hike after (lunch). We saw Dutchman’s breeches. We saw trillium, Virginia bluebells, wild poppies, spring bluets,” said Flowers.

The Dutchman’s breeches are another popular local flower that are currently in bloom, said Grafton. So named because they look like a pair of upside down pantaloons, Dutchman’s breeches are a unique white flower.

“They’re completely irregular. The petals are fused so at the top where it attaches, they have these two little curls,” explained Grafton.

Another great place to hunt spring wildflowers are along the walking trails behind the Washington County Career Center, said career center instructor Jason Lipot, whose Landscape and Turf Management class tends to the trails.

“Lily of the valley is a little flower that should be blooming soon. There are buttercups and some other ones that are coming up,” said Lipot.

The trail is also a great place to view foliage, ferns, and flowering woodland plants, he said.

While all of the wildflowers on the ground are lovely this time a year, there is also something to be said for looking up, noted Ann Bonner, who serves as Arborist for the Marietta Tree Commission.

“The Dogwoods right now are just coming in. Then the crabapples start to bloom. Some are flowering now,” said Bonner.

Some crabapple, apple, and red bud trees can currently be seen blooming along Marietta’s River Trail. Additionally, the Marietta Arboretum in Sacra Via Park between Front and Third Streets features a variety of native blooming trees, such as witch hazel and serviceberry trees.

The Belpre Township Park and Arboretum on Federal Road in Little Hocking also provides a an opportunity to view some of the pretty trees, she added.

The spring blooms on trees typically only last two to three weeks, but rain can cut the blooms short, so its best to get out and see these trees now, said Bonner.

The same is true of spring flowers, added Grafton.

“Spring wildflowers are generally called ephemerals because what they’ll do is bloom pretty quickly and then disappear as the forest canopy closes,” she said.

As summer draws near, so too will the peak of wildflower season. Chicory, daisies, native sunflowers, butterfly milkweed, and many more flowers will take the spotlight.

Trees such as the Japanese tree lilac, Japanese pagoda tree, and Bonner’s favorite, the American Linden will also bloom as summer nears.

But the smaller number of native blooms and shorter viewing window in spring make the flowers an trees and even rarer treat.