Spring has arrived along the Piedmont creeks.
No, you can't tell from the photo below.
But look closely at the ground as you walk. Trout lilies are beginning to bloom.
I never heard of trout lilies until five or six years ago, when I began volunteering at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. The woman who coordinated our small crew of volunteers was crazy about spring ephemerals. The tinier the flower, the more she liked it. The trout lily flower is not quite as big as in the close-up photo below.
The speckled leaves emerge from the leaf litter in the thousands on slopes along the creeks. They're enchanting. Tiny, subtle, hard to photograph, then gone in a few weeks, leaves and all.
Spring ephemerals don't have time to grow big blooms. They thrive in the short window between the end of winter and the emergence of leaves, which soon block the light to the forest floor. The sharp growing tip of trout lily, below, punctures a leaf. I can almost see it growing.
Here is what a trout lily looks like from above, growing at the base of a tree among wild ginger.
Spring ephemerals remind me of fairies. I become a child again, crouching in the leaves to enter their world. Here trout lilies grow among spring beauties, one of the tiniest of tiny flowers.
Spring beauties are about the size they appear in the photo below. They have charming delicate pink stamens.
Hepatica is hard to find, but well worth looking for. The lavender flowers emerge before the three-lobed leaves.
Below is a windflower.
I will join Beth at Plant Postings' meme on Lessons Learned and Donna at Gardens Eye View's meme on Seasonal Celebrations. These little flowers are a celebration. They mark the beginning of spring.
Winter lessons learned:
1. Do not allow yourself to become so distracted by work and house (even if you have good reasons!) that you don't spend time in the garden and nature.
2. Take more walks in the woods, especially in early spring.
3. Look for the beauty in small signs of life.
4. You can grow seeds indoors under a desk lamp with a compact fluorescent bulb (no need for fancy equipment!)
5. It's a pleasure to see daffodils emerge where you didn't even remember you planted them.