These short-lived flowers, which are the first to bloom each year, are the reason I love spring best. They’re such a fun sight after a long winter.

Rue anemone’s purple swirled leaves just after emergence:

five purple stems with leaves whorled at the top, some with flower buds

Two weeks later, the leaves are green and there are more flowers than previous years:

four plants with paw-shaped leaves and white flowers with about eight petals apiece

Only one or two hepatica flowers opened – they’ve never bloomed well in our garden:

one pale pink flower, not fully open

Its leaves always look nice after the flowers are done, though:

10 three-lobed leaves bending out like a fountain from a single source

Tiny, delicate spring beauty:

four pale pink flowers with purple stripes, two with bugs, and many buds

Merry little bellworts:

two open yellow flowers and one yet to bloom

Wild ginger with its strange little flowers hidden under its big leaves:

dark purple flower with three long petals, on the ground in moss, with two large light-green leaves providing a canopy

These violets are native, but I know how much they spread, so I attempted to contain them when I moved some to the front yard by planting them in a pot:

a large green pot planted in the ground filled with violet leaves and purple flowers

That apparently didn’t work, since there is a new plant now growing just inches away:

the same pot viewed from above, farther away to show a small plant to the lower right

Trillium sessile:

purple petals standing straight up above three spotted leaves

I’m so antsy for these showy trilliums to bloom:

two trilliums with white buds about to open

And soon, there will be jack-in-the-pulpit and wild geranium.

It feels like spring has been here for so long, but really, it’s just that the snow has been gone for so long. Plants started popping out of the ground several weeks ago, but they didn’t do much until the last week because we’ve had several freezes and even a couple of snow flurries as recently as two weeks ago.

goldenrod seedling with frost on many leaves

In the meantime, I’ve already been to Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis three times! I had to get a glimpse of some flowers – like my favorite, bloodroot, which for some reason does not grow in our yard (despite my attempts every year).

four open regular-sized bloodroots and one much smaller

Finally, after some warm temperatures, there are a couple of blossoms in our woodland garden, too. (Much more on those another day.) Can we say that spring is truly here? I really think so – though I’m trying to be realistic and remember that it snowed the first week of May, four years ago.

golden alexanders seedling with lots of small leaves

I’ve been so antsy to get out into the garden, but I’ve been holding off so I don’t trample the ground where bees are hibernating. I’ve been mostly keeping to the edges of the garden and peeping as far as I can see – but I just can’t resist taking a closer look any longer. Bees are out now, anyway.

Purple coneflower:

many old stalks with several small leaves

Stiff goldenrod:

two large new plants

Cup plant:

medium-green toothed leaves right at the ground


two dozen plants that look like wide grass

Bee balm:

two dozen short plants with leaves unfurling at the tops of the stems


many very small, thin leaves standing straight up

I think yellow coneflower, yarrow, and purple giant hyssop will compete this year for the plant that has spread the most:

coneflower - small green leaves, in a wide line instead of a circle

yarrow - many light-green leaves that look like little ferns

hyssop - four small clumps of the same type of plant

Phlox – which came out of the ground very purple, a phenomenon that an Instagram friend says is due to a pigment that protects plants from UV rays. It has already begun to turn green:

very small deep purple seedlings, and the same plant two weeks later, much larger and green

Several unknowns, including this one in the jack-in-the-pulpit spot that I fear is invasive creeping bellflower:

three short green plants with long wide toothed leaves

Is this the year our cardinal flower finally succeeds?

tightly packed green leaves five inches wide

We seem to have our first failure of the year, pasqueflower, which I have not spotted where it should be. But soon, we’ll have more flowers than we can keep track of. Spring is the most wonderful time of the year. (No need to remind me of that statement in six months, when I will claim – again – that autumn is the most beautiful time of the year.)

Is it time to remove the dead flower stalks and debris from last year, like on this sedum? Or is it still too early for hibernating insects that may be sleeping inside?

sedum leaves that look like flowers, with old stalks rising between them

Yes, there are millions of Virginia bluebells at Carley State Park.

Virginia bluebells pointed down

What they don’t mentionĀ is that there are at least as many false rue anemones:

dozens of false rue anemone


Virginia bluebells and false rue anemone near a fallen tree

This one tree contained an entire spring wildflower ecosystem:

base of a tree surrounded by many types of wildflowers

bluebells, of course, and also bellworts:

one flowering bluebell stem and three bellworts

little-leaf buttercups:

two small yellow flowers

wild ginger:

wild ginger leaves but no flowers

early meadow rue:

small stem of early meadow rue


one open purple violet and one bud

Dutchman’s breeches:

two strings of dutchman's breeches

more false rue anemones:

small patch of false rue anemone

and soon, trilliums:

trillium with a bud hanging down


More photos from Carley State Park

When I hear the term “spring babies,” I usually think of lambs, chicks, and piglets on a farm. Our yard has hundreds of baby plants this spring – flowers spreading beyond their original locations.

There’s a saying: the first year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap. Some of these are second years and some are third years or beyond, and I’m seeing a lot of creeping and leaping.

six lupine seedlings

The pearly everlasting is creeping earlier than expected. What started as two small pots two years ago has expanded exponentially. Last year we divided the original clump into four, and this year all four are bigger – with offshoots in about 15 additional spots within 15 feet of the original. It’ll be fun to see them blooming, but I will need to trim them before they go to seed this fall so the entire garden isn’t pearly everlasting next year.

an enormous clump of pearly everlasting, and seedlings in another area

Star of beauty: a perfect example of a third-year creeper. If I am remembering correctly, this one was planted in the fall of 2011. It has looked nice every year and has produced lots seeds, but it didn’t spread. Until now. I’m letting most of them grow around the “mother” plant, though I moved some to a second location. I will need to thin them out further because all of those little green shoots in the upper left corner are star of beauty, too.

star of beauty seedlings

Tall sunflower: Last year’s seven or so stems are now about seventy. I’ve already divided it twice and moved the extras to two other locations, and there are still way too many for this one spot.

sunflower seedlings

Lupine: there are dozens of these little “palm trees” all over the front garden.

lupine seedlings next to the mature plant

Yellow coneflower is spreading rapidly near the main plant – even in the driveway, and taking over the candytuft.

yellow coneflower seedlings

I could spend an entire day pulling out the many tree seedlings:

four tree seedlings next to regular plants

I generally have an “innocent until proven guilty” policy with plants: I’ll let them grow until I identify that they’re weeds. There are so many of these growing in a spot where I planted blue vervain seeds last fall that I first thought that’s what they were. But they’re already flowering at their very short height, so I’m afraid they’re not blue vervain after all. It will be a big task to pull hundreds of these seedlings, if I can’t identify them soon.

dozens of small unknown seedlings

Back to the wanted flowers. Hollyhocks make me happy, and it looks like there will be a lot of new ones this year.

four hollyhock seedlings near an old hollyhock stalk

Snowdrop anemone: I liked this plant so much that I bought a second one last year. The older one, near the front door, has tripled in size. And a seed head must have flown to a far corner last fall because there are dozens of babies growing all around the false indigo.

snowdrop anemone seedlings around the mature plant, and around a false indigo

Milkweed: I didn’t intentionally plant these; they were a happy result of last year’s three (supposedly failed) milkweeds. It looked so bad that I pulled it before it seeded – or so I thought. At last count, there are 35 new plants, with more popping up pretty much every day. Unfortunately they don’t transplant well, or I would move several to other locations around the yard. Hopefully the monarchs find them.

eight milkweed seedlings and dozens of tree seedlings

Early spring is when all of my favorite wildflowers bloom. My garden has a few – hepatica, spring beauty, trillium – but the best place to see nearly every Minnesota ephemeral is the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. I visited on a sunny afternoon three weeks ago.

White trout lily:

side view of two white trout lilies

and yellow trout lily:

looking up at one yellow trout lily

Wild ginger’s shy flower:

one wild ginger plant with a dark red flower

Hepatica rising out of the carpet of oak leaves:

two purple hepatica

False rue anemone:

a large patch of false rue anemone in the sunshine

Bloodroot is my absolute favorite, possibly because they’re so delicate and so short-lived. This time I decided to take video of flowers blowing in the wind, with birds singing and bees buzzing in and out:

There was even a turkey roaming around, not at all concerned that I was watching:

a turkey that blends in well with the brown background

Earlier this week, I returned to see what’s happening now. There are many more varieties, and the brown groundcover is quickly being replaced by new, green growth.

The bloodroot I filmed is long gone, the leaves growing large but being overtaken by invasive periwinkle:

bloodroot leaves in a large patch of periwinkle

Many varieties of violets:

four different kinds of violets, names unknown

Two-leaved toothwort:

the top of one two-leaved toothwort plant

I was wondering whether there are any jack-in-the-pulpits and literally before I finished that thought, I found one hiding among the leaves:

jack-in-the-pulpit surrounded by wild geranium leaves

Marsh marigolds:

several marsh marigold blooms along a stream

Several kinds of trilliums:

large trillium, prairie trillium, yellow trillium, a different yellow variety, snow trillium

And coming soon: lots of wild geraniums.

about a hundred wild geranium leaves