Tag Archives: corn speedwell

New Year’s First Flowers

No flowers are blooming now. Even the dandelions are dormant. As I go through my pictures from this year, I wonder which will be the first flowers to bloom in the new year.

Several flowers come to mind. Little corn speedwell with its sky blue flowers has bloomed during warm spells in January before.

corn speedwell flower

Corn speedwell came from Europe, but is wide spread in areas of short grass. These little flowers look like bits of summer sky scattered on the ground during warm spells over the winter.

Dandelions always seem poised to open their yellow flowers as soon as warm weather arrives. Their dark green rosettes dot the yard ready and waiting.

daffodil flower

Planted world wide, daffodils are a symbol of spring yet bloom, not as soon as spring hints appear in winter, but after spring is moving in.

Daffodils are thought of as early spring flowers. As far as I’ve seen, their leaves come up early. The flowers don’t show until spring is battling its way through the dregs of winter.

Shepard Purse flower first flowers

This wild green tries to stay green all winter. It doesn’t take much of a warm spell to encourage Shepard’s Purse to put up a flower stalk. The young leaves make a good addition to salads or stir fries.

Shepard’s purse is a surprise contender. It has rosettes here and there around the yard, mostly in the driveway or near the road. It was blooming late into November until the hard frosts were too frequent.

dandelion first flowers

Another wild green, dandelions put up their flower heads even in late winter, if it gets warm enough. The plants stay green all winter and make good additions to salads and stir fries.

If I wander down along the river, harbinger of spring blooms early. It grows tucked beside trees that warm and protect the roots through the winter.

There are many spring ephemerals. I doubt these are contenders for the year’s first flowers. They tend to wait until spring is trouncing winter before appearing.

Harbinger of Spring first flowers

Harbinger of Spring or Salt and Pepper is one of very few native plants to bloom early, before spring settles in.

Some things must be true for such early bloomers. They must be tough to withstand hard frosts and stand back up in the morning. They must shiver through cold days that bracket the few early spring days and endure.

Most of the flower pictures I am working with are from flowers blooming in the warmth of late spring and all of summer. They are often bigger and showier than those first flowers of the year. Their beauty will be welcome and enjoyed.

The one thing lacking for these later blooms is the sheer joy those first flowers bring. Winter is ending is what these flowers herald. That makes them special, no matter which ones they are.

Find out more about the Ozark seasons in Exploring the Ozark Hills.

January Thaw

Here in the Ozarks there seem to be two fairly reliable weather systems over the year. One is a cold spell during the beginning of September. The other is January thaw.

What is January thaw? It’s a week or two of mild temperatures usually the last part of January. They are a break between the cold spells of December into January and the last big winter push of February.

This year has a typical January thaw. The days flirt with fifty degrees. The nights dip a bit below freezing. These low temperatures at night are important.

Nightly cold keeps the ground frozen. It keeps the plants dormant. At least most of the plants are still waiting for spring’s real appearance in another month or so.

Maple trees are impatient. Already the silver maple’s red blooms are swelling. With another week of mild temperatures the flowers will open. And then the cold returns and freezes them.

spicebush buds

Spicebush is an early spring bloomer. It bursts into yellowgreen flower pompoms often in March. Its leaves have a spicy taste.

Spicebush buds are swelling too. They are not as impatient as the maples. The mild temperatures are tempting them into waking up but they are cautious. Instead these yellow green pompoms of blooms will burst out the end of February or beginning of March.

One wildflower is trying to bloom. Little corn speedwell, genus name Veronica, keeps opening a few sky blue flowers whenever several days creep up into the fifties.

corn speedwell flowers

Little corn speedwell, Veronica arvense, is an international resident. its tiny blue flowers are a welcome sight in midwinter warm spells.

These little plants are only an inch or so tall with shallow roots. When the top inch of soil thaws, the plant starts growing. Even when cold returns, the plants just stop blooming and wait for the next warm days.

Birds enjoy January thaw as well. Feeder raiding is not as urgent giving the males time to stake out their territories. Cardinals are calling from various places on the hills. A bluebird was spotted the other day.

When February moves in with more winter cold, the memory of January thaw helps keep cabin fever at bay. February may have the fewest number of days for a month but each seems so very long. Maybe January thaw with its taste of spring causes that too.

Enjoy more essays and photographs of nature in the Ozarks in Exploring the Ozark Hills. Find out more on the Ozarks Hills blog page and in the Shop.