A photo essay starting at the end and evolving backwards.

Clusters of berries that have been partially eaten, perhaps by birds that will spread the seeds to new areas:

Partially eaten jack-in-the-pulpit berries, with white spots where the berries were.

Beautiful ripe berries:

Ripe jack-in-the-pulpit berries.

Because there are berries, these two plants were female.

Mostly green berries that are just starting to turn red.

But get this: next year, both of these same plants will probably be male! Jack-in-the-pulpits change sex depending on how much energy they have stored. Producing berries takes a lot of energy, so usually the next year they’re male.

Dark green jack-in-the-pulpit berries.

Family photo of four blooming jacks under their tall, umbrella-like leaves. I assume the two plants on the right are male, though I didn’t know to check while they were blooming. Next year I will look more closely!

Four jack-in-the-pulpits under their tall leaves.

Stretching their leaves open:

Two jack-in-the-pulpit plants with their leaves still unfurling.


Three jack-in-the-pulpit plants that are just beginning to open.

Just getting started:

Two short pointed shoots coming out of the ground.

About this flower

These four jack-in-the-pulpits seem to have just had an argument and none of them can stand to even look at each other.

four green flowers, each facing in slightly a different direction, including two backwards

(Or should it be jacks-in-the-pulpit? jacks-in-the-pulpits? There are multiple jacks and multiple pulpits.)

The one on the far left even looks like he’s just exclaimed “Humph!” and is scowling like Sam Eagle of the Muppets.

two green flowers, one with its spathe perfectly in position to appear like a face with a sneer

Less than a week ago, the third one looked like this cool guy:

closeup of a green flower with its spathe swooshing out in front

Now, he’s so upset he’s off-kilter:

a green flower facing backwards, its right side lower than its left

In late April I noticed that the wild geranium section had multiplied since last year. This transplanted wildflower was a solid mass of green leaves.

wild geranium leaves filling the frame

I couldn’t wait for them to start blooming because I imagined a crowded sea of pinkish-purple flowers.

about three dozen flowers, viewed from above

A month later, that proved true. One afternoon, I couldn’t seem to stop taking photos.

a stem with three open flowers viewed from the side, two of the styles visible

three flowers tightly clustered so their petals push against each other

two open flowers and a bud about to open

four blooming on one stem in the foreground, only one pointed toward the camera, with lots blurred in the background

a bee curved around the style

an ant walking near the edge of a flower

four flowers in the foreground, viewed from the side, with many flowers blurred in the background

the entire cluster of flowers, viewed from the top

Plant source: Transplant from my mom’s garden.

More about wild geraniums

I added two sessile trilliums to the woodland garden late in 2014. They have done well for two years, and this year I was watching as they came up again.

a large flower on the left, a medium-sized flower in the middle, and a small flower with only the stem and one of three leaves visible, viewed from a standing position

But apparently I wasn’t watching very closely because it took me awhile to notice a third flower popping up, too, this one hiding under the leaf of one of the original flowers. It looked like a baby hiding behind a parent.

same flowers but viewed from the side, so the smallest one on the right is more visible as it's unfolding

I went back to look at earlier photos, and sure enough, there’s a hint of a third growing; I just wasn’t paying close enough attention to notice.

two emerging folded leaves, the right one with a smaller stem right next to it

Soon after, the stem of one of the older flowers broke (or was chewed or otherwise disturbed)…

same three flowers, but the left stem is broken and curved, with the flower's leaves now flat on the ground, purple flower blooming

…and two days later, the same thing happened the other old one.

similar photo as previous, but with two open flowers on the ground and one closed flower standing

The “baby” stayed upright and flourished…

a single flower with a long stem, three green-and-purple leaves, and a purple flower partially opened

…and even the two broken flowers did okay from their new positions on the ground.

all three flowers blooming, the left two on the ground

Sessile trillium (common name: toadshade) is a native plant, though it’s not native in Minnesota; its range is south and east of the Midwest. Apparently it does not smell good, though I haven’t noticed this. I wish I could remember where I bought it.

More about sessile trillium

This year the monarch migration from Mexico was earlier than normal. Butterflies started reaching the Twin Cities about two weeks ago, so I have been checking the milkweed every few days but not finding any eggs. Then this evening Bill saw a monarch fluttering in the front yard. I raced out with my camera.

monarch butterfly resting on common milkweed

She landed on common milkweed, in a cluster of plants that’s growing outside of the garden in the lawn. While I watched, she paused in the egg-laying pose and then fluttered away, circled the yard, and came back to another plant nearby to repeat the process.

monarch butterfly with her abdomen curved to lay eggs on common milkweed

Then, in my excitement to see this process up close, I scared her away. (Next time, I will be more cool.) I started checking the plants and found two eggs right away, where I had seen her. Then I moved on throughout the garden.

closeup of a striped, football-shaped, ivory-colored egg on a green leaf

We have more than 100 milkweeds, so it took awhile, but there were plenty of eggs to be found. Each was on its own plant. Some were on full plants about a foot tall…

egg on the underside of a large leaf

some on really small plants with only one or two leaves so far…

egg on a leaf that's still unfolding

one curious location near several insects…

egg on the edge of a leaf with several green aphids and white, cotton-like insects

some on plants growing in a community…

a milkweed with many leaves, with two more plants in the background

one on an island in the grass.

egg on the underside of a vertical leaf, only grass in the background

12 eggs in all! So maybe she was done laying eggs, anyway, and wasn’t bothered by me observing…?

Last year, it wasn’t until July 15 that I saw my first monarch in the garden and September 22 when I saw the first caterpillar. While May 26 feels really early, now that they’re here and the cycle is continuing, it’s pretty exciting.

At this point, I’m not planning to bring any of the eggs inside to raise them. It’s only May, and I’m not sure I’m up for an entire summer of cleaning out cages. But once I start seeing caterpillars in the garden, it won’t be surprising if I cave.