Spring Botany Study, Part 1: The Season’s Firsts

Was it only just last week that it snowed?

In what seems like a few short days, our New Mexico landscape is rapidy transforming from the crisp and crunchy brown leaves of winter to hints of spring green everywhere! Of course with the promise of spring comes the inevitable dust storm of juniper and pine pollen being whisked along by strong seasonal winds, but sneezing and the sniffles are a small price to pay. I’m prepared to welcome spring with open arms (albeit armed with a box of tissues).

Returning again to one of our favorite series of Open Space trails, Copper, we hiked about 3 miles into the back country to check on a familiar patch of wild rhubarb. I’d noticed a few leaves had broken through the ground several weeks ago, but with the recent bout of cold weather it was a surprise to see that big bunches of new growth had pushed up about 4” above the soil. And not only was this patch doing well, we discovered several more patches in the area also growing aggressively. How happy the deer will be to discover this soon-to-be bounty.

Around another bend in the trail, we found two roadrunners having an animated discussion with each other from neighboring boulders. Perhaps this would have developed into a territorial dispute, or maybe a male was wooing a female and a clutch of little roadrunner chicks are in their future? Still wondering, we left the birds to work it out for themselves and continued down the trail.

No sooner did we resume our normal hiking speed, when Roy came to an abrupt stop. He was standing motionless, so I approached cautiously, knowing he had spotted something of interest. The first snake of the season! We knew snakes were out and about already, as Luna has been scenting lizards, but the first is always a surprise. And this was a good snake to get our ”snake spotting” eyes adjusted. This guy was a beautiful garter snake, about 4 feet long. Cool!

Noting lots of new green leaves everywhere, and not expecting to see any flowers yet, near the end of our hike I was taken by surprise. right at my feet and in full bloom was a gorgeous pinky-purple verbena! What a perfect ending to our early morning trek, enjoying full sun and 73F temps, in familiar country. There’s always something new to discover along the Cooper Trails.

I’d love to know what seasonal changes you’re observing too.

This was a page from. my nature journal last year when I discovered Wild Rhubarb for the first time.
Work in progress on this year’s nature journal page.
Further along … WIP on my leafy drawings and paintings

8 Comments

  1. peacefulbird says:

    Wonderful to trek with you! The long tubes of the verbena make it “regal-sweet,” which seems like an oxymoron. Your leaf study is a Zentangle inspiration for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Robin for trekking along!

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  2. A very delightful journey that you took us on your hike! I do remember the crisp and crunchy brown plants that we saw everywhere in NM and the juniper dust storm that brought full on allergies last week! I am enamored with your roadrunner encounter! What a fun sighting to experience – I was looking for them, but didn’t see them. And, the snake sighting — wowza, my guys were really hoping to see one, but I am quite happy that we didn’t! Looking forward to hearing how the Wild Rhubarb progresses – I haven’t heard of it! Another new plant to learn about. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks so much for coming on my trek! It would be fun to explore together some day! Yes, roadrunners are my favorite of all southwest birds. They are curious, expressive, funny, noisy, and beautiful. It’s tough to get a good photo, but I have drawn and painted many individuals. We even have a pair that lives and must nest around our home. They like to sit on our window framing and look inside.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. goodlifecp says:

    Is the wild rhubarb edible? My johnny jump ups are blooming and many of my flowerbed perennials are sprouting: cilantro (it reseeds itself), peppermint, fall garlic, purple coneflower, columbine, sedum, catnip…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow …. Lots of things “springing” up in your yard, Cass! How exciting. I get giddy with each new leaf! According to literature, young leaves of wild rhubarb are edible. I’m not sure about the stems. Last year the patch I’m monitoring was heavily browsed by deer (tracks everywhere). But the plant must be very resilient.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. memnona says:

        Beautiful 💗

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks so much Aga!

        Liked by 1 person

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