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Poor Will's Almanack: July 21 - 27, 2015

Hickory Nut
Laurie Hulsey
Flickr Creative Commons

I watch the history of July unfold, approaching its climax: yellowing locust and buckeye leaves and the browning garlic mustard, reddening Judas maples and Virginia creeper leaves, shiny spicebush, boxwood, greenbrier, and poison ivy berries forming, wild cherries darkening.

Mallow, Asiatic lilies and day lilies gradually disappear in the garden as white, red, and purple phlox come in. Lizard's tail and wood nettle go to seed along the riverbanks. Blueweed, white vervain, motherwort and white sweet clover end their seasons. Petals of the hobblebush darken. Parsnip heads, honewort pods and sweet cicely pods are dry enough to split and spill their seeds. Hickory nuts and black walnuts drop into the undergrowth.

Middle summer raspberries are gone, but blackberries are ready to eat , and the season’s second-last wave of wildflowers---- the Joe Pye weed, monkey flower, tall coneflower, clearweed, horseweed, white snakeroot, jumpseed, prickly mallow, virgin's bower, white boneset, field thistle and Japanese knotweed -- bloom in the open fields and along the fence rows. In the shade of the woods, leafcup is the dominant flower, almost the only one in bloom. Rusty dodder spreads across the tattered black raspberry bushes. Milkweed flowers turn to pods. Round galls swell on the goldenrod. When the mornings are cool, fog hangs in the hollows before dawn.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for fifth week of middle summer. In the meantime, watch what happens: it’s the history of middle summer.

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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.