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Poor Will's Almanack: May 17–23, 2011

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Flickr Creative Commons user HVargas
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Iris Spring Blooms

Poor Will’s Almanack for the final week of Late Spring. After apple petals all have fallen, late spring enters its glory, keeping the promises of March and April. Iris bloom quickly spreads across the country, and mock orange flowers squeeze out into the warmest afternoons, four or five days after the iris, about a week in advance of the peonies.

Then when azaleas lose their petals, daisies and the first clematis open all the way, the first strawberry ripens, and the first swallowtail butterflies visit the star of Bethlehem and bleeding hearts. The last quince flowers fall, and lilacs decay.

The yellow heads of meadow goatsbeard appear along the roadsides next to the sweet clover foliage spreading out for June. The pink and violet of sweet rockets replace the purple wild phlox in the woods and pastures. All of the buttercups blossom. Horseradish and comfrey are budding. The shy lesser stitchwort blooms in the alleys.

Late Spring's locust flowers now open as the high canopy slowly closes in. Rich-scented four-petaled flowers of the silver olive open. Tall meadow rue is unfolding knee high, pacing the angelica. Golden ragwort, pale violet Jacob's ladder, columbine, and the wild geraniums are still in full flower.

Multiflora roses and wild raspberries are budding. Deep red ginger has replaced the toad trillium close to the ground, around the fingers of white sedum.

Cedar waxwings migrate up the rivers as the last buckeye flowers fall. Half the goslings are bigger than your shoes. When the first firefly glows in your lawn, flea beetles come feeding in the vegetable garden.

Next week on Poor Will's Almanack: notes for the first week of early summer. In the meantime, listen for spring crickets in the fields, a sure promise of June.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.