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Poor Will's Almanack: May 5 - 11, 2020

White Mulberry
Matthew Beziat
Flickr Creative Commons

The center of Late Spring is already thickening the canopy over early gardens. Sycamores, Osage, cottonwoods and oaks are leafing out, and white mulberries and buckeyes blossom.

Along the sidewalks, purple iris, orange poppies, sweet William, bridal-wreath spirea and snowball viburnum have appeared. The delicate Korean lilacs join the fading standard lilac varieties, and bright rhododendrons replace the azaleas.

Serviceberry trees have small green berries. In the alleys, scarlet pimpernel comes in beside the thyme-leafed speedwell. Daisies unravel, and the bells of the lily-of-the-valley emerge from their green sheaths. Wood hyacinths and star of Bethlehem are at their best.

Throughout the woods, Solomon's seal, false Solomon's seal, bellwort, wild phlox, trillium grandiflorum, wild geraniums, golden Alexander, wood betony, early meadow rue, swamp buttercups, ginger, Jacob's ladder, water cress and golden seal are blooming. White garlic mustard and sweet Cicely still dominate the deep woods; violet sweet rockets increase throughout the fields and glades.

Armyworms and corn borers are at work on the farm when thistles bud and the first strawberries redden in the garden. Slugs are out in force, bean leaf beetles are eating beans, and alfalfa weevil infestations become more common. Flea beetles eat the corn. Bagworms and powdery mildew attack the wheat.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of Late Spring. In the meantime, watch for the high trees to fill in with leaves, marking the arrival of late spring.

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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.