Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Second Bloom

Wild Plants and Wooly Bears

It’s that time of year when many plants, including flowering shrubs, go into a limited, second bloom. I noticed yesterday that a pussy willow by my house has sprouted new, velvety-gray catkins. But we are heading into winter, not spring. So what gives?

Well, we have had a number of unusually cold nights and now the current spate of warm weather has tricked plants into thinking that spring has arrived. This is in no way harmful, and since the plants are only partly enthusiastic about blooming, they won’t suffer a bit when genuine spring arrives many months from now.

It’s interesting, though, to go out and check for what shrubs are in bloom. Forsythia, that famous springtime treat, frequently goes into a limited blooming period now. And speaking of forsythia, a native shrub with yellow, forsythia-like flowers naturally blooms at this time of year. Witch hazel never has quite as many individual blossoms as forsythia but I like it as well or better. And witch hazel is more than just another pretty shrub. It is useful as well.

Witch hazel distillate is something that I make certain to keep fresh and on hand. This is made from the woody part of the plant and is a safe and effective old-time remedy for cuts, bruises, dry skin and insect bites. Plus, it has a pleasant aroma.

So get out and enjoy this last flush of blooming vegetation. It won’t last long, I guarantee that.

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