Posted by: kerryl29 | May 9, 2016

April Showers Bring April Flowers…Among Other Things

It’s been a wet spring so far in the American Midwest.  An extremely mild March produced a spring bloom that was running two to three weeks ahead of normal, but an exceptionally cold early April–which included hard freezes for several nights in a row (from three to seven, depending on one’s specific locale)–stopped everything in its tracks.  Blooms that were already in evidence in early April died on the branch (or ground).  Those that hadn’t burst forth yet regressed into dormancy and finally emerged a bit later than would ordinarily be expected.

While the temperature ebbed and flowed throughout April, the precipitation did not; it was pretty much a constant phenomenon as the month unfolded.  As a result, streams and waterfalls, including the ephemeral form of the latter, were flowing nicely.

I managed to carve out four opportunities to make day trips in April, both in Indiana and Illinois, to explore the status of the bloom and the waterways, in the second half of the month, beginning with Turkey Run State Park in east-central Indiana.

I’d visited Turkey Run several times prior to last month’s occasion, but never during the height of the spring bloom.  I tried visiting in the spring once before, but there had been so much flooding in the region that most of the park was off limits.  Not this time.

Bluebells, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Bluebells, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

The wildflowers–particularly bluebells and phlox–were in good shape when I visited Turkey Run, on April 19.

Rocky Hollow, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Rocky Hollow, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Rocky Hollow Black & White, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Rocky Hollow Black & White, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

The water, coursing through Rocky Hollow, was just about perfect.  Since the only way to negotiate Rocky Hollow is by hiking through the water, I made use of my knee-high rubber boots, which allowed me to meander through the canyon with minimal inconvenience.

Rocky Hollow, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Rocky Hollow, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

The flow was also in evidence in the Punch Bowl.

Punch Bowl, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Punch Bowl, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Leaf out was still in the early stages when I was at Turkey Run, but that didn’t keep me from making some intimate photographs of the copious forest buttressing Sugar Creek.

 

Sycamore Isolate, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Sycamore Isolate, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Two of the 31 covered bridges that can be found throughout Parke County, Indiana are located quite close to the boundaries of Turkey Run State Park and I decided to take the time to check out both.  The conditions weren’t suitable for photographing one of them, I decided upon investigation, but I did take the time to make an image of the other.

Cox Ford Covered Bridge, Parke County, Indiana

Cox Ford Covered Bridge, Parke County, Indiana

My next excursion was at Starved Rock State Park, in north-central Illinois, where I met my friend Tom Robbins on April 27.  It was a windy, overcast day, but we found some shelter amidst the narrow canyons on the south side of the Illinois River.  We started in Illinois Canyon, probably the widest and flattest in the park where bluebells predominate in mid-spring and a shallow stream meanders between the walls before emptying into the river.

Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Redbud Intimate, Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Redbud Intimate, Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Our next stop was Kaskaskia Canyon, less than a mile to the west of Illinois Canyon.

Kaskaskia Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Kaskaskia Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Kaskaskia Canyon Waterfall Black & White, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Kaskaskia Canyon Waterfall Black & White, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Kaskaskia Canyon Waterfall, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Kaskaskia Canyon Waterfall, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Then we made the hike to LaSalle Canyon.

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

While we were photographing in LaSalle, it started to rain–as it had been threatening to do all day.  We got good and soaked as we made the 1.5 mile slog back to the parking area, but it had been a good five-odd hours of shooting.

The very next day–with conditions again overcast, but less of a chance of rain and lighter winds–I made the drive to northwest Indiana.  My friend Danny Burk had made me aware of a marvelous location for large-leafed white trillium, at Bendix Woods County Park, west of South Bend.  He met me there that morning and we spent about four hours working the almost limitless compositional options amid the most prolific growth of white trillium I’ve ever seen anywhere.

Trillium Intimate, Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Trillium Intimate, Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

The wind was light enough that, when a lull set in, I was able to produce multiple images of the same scene, for the purpose of focus stacking.

Trillium Intimate, Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Trillium Intimate, Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Big Tree Trail, Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Big Tree Trail, Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

I’d been to Bendix Woods once, nearly 15 years prior, but it had been about two weeks earlier in the month of April and while there were some widlflowers in bloom on that occasion, it was too early for trillium, so I had no idea of their presence.  Many, many thanks are due Danny for letting me know about this treasure trove.

Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Trillium Intimate, Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Trillium Intimate, Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Bendix Woods County Park, St. Joseph County, Indiana

Finally, on May 1  (not technically April, I concede, but so what?), I made an impromptu drive through the Morton Arboretum, not far from my base in DuPage County, Illinois, just to see what was going on.  There’s an extensive patch of Virginia Bluebells in the East Woods at the Arboretum; I first discovered these flowers–which are visible from a trail, but not the road that winds through the Arb–in 2013.  More recently, my timing hadn’t allowed me to photograph this stand of bluebells at peak.  But when I decided to check on them this year, on the morning of May 1, they took my breath away.  First, I’d clearly caught them absolutely at peak.  Secondly, they’d become so much more extensive–in density and breadth–since my last observation of them at peak bloom (three years previous) that I was truly astonished.  I hadn’t planned on photographing that day but when I saw that forest of bluebells–it looked like a sea of blue with the occasional tree trunk emerging like the mast of a sunken ship–I had to head back to base to get my gear and return.

East Woods, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

East Woods, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

It was an overcast day, with an annoying wind, but with patience, the breeze would stop and I was able to obtain sufficient shutter speeds to freeze the swaying blooms.

East Woods, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

East Woods, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

East Woods, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

East Woods, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

East Woods, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

East Woods, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

East Woods, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

East Woods, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

This collection of single-day photo shoots, all of which took place within a span of 12 days, served to inform me of something I probably don’t need to be reminded of at this point:  there’s plenty of beauty very close at hand here in the Midwest, and–as was the case with Brown County State Park last fall–trips to more obviously breathtaking places like the Canadian Rockies or the Oregon Coast haven’t blinded me to that fact.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Lovely trillium shots!

  2. Brings back memories of my time in Indiana… Nice photos!

  3. Splendid series!

  4. The carpets of trillim and bluebells are so astonishing, and your photos really do them justice.

    • Thanks, Ellen. These were the most impressive displays of both of these flowers I’ve seen to date.

  5. Our VA Bluebells are starting to fade now. They were a real treat yet again this year. Your photos are beyond good.

    • Thanks!

      Not sure where you’re located, but I would think that the peak of the bluebell bloom has ebbed here as well. it’s been about three weeks since my foray to Turkey Run, and they were essentially at peak then. It’s been more than a week since I was wowed at the Morton Arboretum. The weather has been mostly cooperative (plenty of additional rain and moderate temperatures) but these blooms only last so long…

  6. Looks beautiful!

  7. I loved seeing all of the flowers (and other subjects) photographed by some one with your skills! If you’re ever in Michigan at that time of year, you may want to check out Aman Park, a few miles west of Grand Rapids. The trillium there are also amazing, acres and acres of them.

    • Thanks! And thanks for the site recommendation. When would you say the trillium typically peaks at Aman Park? Last week of April/first week of May?

      • That’s the problem with flowers, the weather makes a huge difference when the peak bloom is. My general rule of thumb for Aman Park is that May 1st is the best time for the trillium. If that’s a little late, then there are typically waves of bluebells blooming.

        • Thanks. I know how difficult it is to project the spring bloom (it’s much the same with peak fall color), but there’s typically an “all things being equal” range that’s ordinarily a good starting point. You’ve provided that and I greatly appreciate it.

  8. Love all these photos, but the ones with the water hitting the tree are simply GLORIOUS. Well done (and PLEASE send that rain to Alberta).

    • Thanks very much, Frank.

      What’s going on in NE Alberta is just tragic. Truth be told, I have a number of extended relations who lived in Ft. McMurray and have fled to Edmonton.

  9. Wow! The flowers are simply amazing. Trilliums being a special favorite. Wish we had as many around here. They seem to be rather solitary in this neck of the woods. The rhododendrons have been at peak here for what seems like weeks. Just starting to fade about now. This seems very early, but it’s hard to keep track and much depends on specific location.

    I agree with Frank about the water hitting the tree shot. That’s certainly a refreshing beauty. Your images are always a joy to behold.

    • Thanks very much, Gunta.

      I’ve never seen a trillium display to rival what I experienced at Bendix Woods, though there are some spots (like the one Jerry mentioned) around the Midwest that I’ve heard of that are reportedly similar in terms of sheer quantity and thickness.

      Re the rhododendrons, compared to last year, what you’re describing is a bit early. They were definitely still at peak on the southern OR coast at this time in 2015 and by this time in redwood country, farther south, they’d barely begun to bud.

      • I tried to fit in a trip south to the redwoods, but life has been pretty crazy, busy lately. Not complaining mind you, but I would love to compare blooming times between here and the redwoods.

        • If last year is any indication (and it may not be reliable–small sample size and all that), the rhododendron in the coastal redwoods area runs at least two weeks behind the southern OR coast. I was just beginning to see blossoms in Del Norte County around May 12 and things were more or less at peak around Floras Lake a week earlier.

  10. Wow, wow and wow! It certainly is a beautiful place. You captured some beautiful images 🙂

    • Thanks very much!

  11. Beautiful bluebells! Plenty of them in the UK too!

    • Thanks!

      I had no idea there were bluebells in the UK (and wouldn’t have guessed it);yYou learn something new every day. 🙂

  12. Kerry, as always, your photos are breathtaking, but the trilliums and Virginia bluebells? Wow! Spectacular! I find it reassuring that stands of wildflowers still exist. I grow bluebells here in a fairly large and spreading patch but now I’m inspired to cover my woodland floor with them, especially as I turn to planting mostly native plants on my property. Thank you for the inspiration and, as you say, there’s no place like home 🙂

    • Thanks, Lynn.

      I’ve seen more and more “domesticated” bluebells over the past few years; I’m not sure when they started to become so popular. One thing’s for certain: when the conditions are favorable, they grow like (dare I say it) weeds. 🙂

  13. Wow, that trillium is incredible. Thanks for posting the photos; probably the only trillium I’ll get to see this spring.

    • Thanks very much.

      At this point, trillium is just about spent in the U.S., I think. I saw some specimens that were still holding on in Letchworth State Park (about an hour south of Rochester, NY) yesterday, but they’re past their prime as well. It’s very late in the trillium season.


Please feel free to comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: