An iris evening

Blooming of the crested iris is a moment I look forward to every spring. Last year, they bloomed midweek and by the time the weekend, and my first opportunity to shoot arrived, the delicate blooms were spent. Not so this year — we saw them on the way home this evening. Once home, threw on a pair of sneakers and ran down the hill with camera in hand. Handholding longish exposures in the fading light was a challenge, but well worth the effort.

Crested iris blooming.
Crested Iris in the woods this evening.


Weekly photo challenge: Monument

This week’s photo challenge is titled “Monument.” Here is our monument to spring in the Arkansas Ouachita mountains: All of 5 inches tall including stem, this crested iris is getting ready to unfurl its flag.



Other monuments we liked:


Signs of spring

Spring is slowly, but surely, shuffling its way onto the mountain. It’s good to see the usual spring things beginning. For example, the crested iris leaves are pushing into the sunlight, the poke sallet is beginning to wave its green flags and cedar apple rust, one of the more spectacular looking plant diseases, is in full “bloom.”

We were somewhat concerned that the irises might not make it this year. With the hundreds of trees damaged from last year’s snow, and the subsequent efforts to trim and remove debris from the road, we feared the irises might be disturbed or buried under pine logs and brush. It was great to see yesterday that those leaves had emerged.

It’s iris time!

Spring weather has come early to Arkansas this year, bringing everything along with it, including the annual crested iris outburst. In 2010 and 2011, these beauties came along around the second week of April. This year, their ethereal lavender-blue standards and falls graced our woods before the end of March.

In years past, the irises seemed to prefer to be alone or in pairs. This year, there are crowds in the leaf litter. Some are live on the sheer edge of the road cut, while others seem to cling to the crumbling  shale by their fingerling rhizomes.

FOURTEEN'S A CROWD -- A group of crested iris, native to the Ouachitas, lights up the roadside.
SOLITARY -- A single iris framed by vines on the Ouachita forest floor around the 600-foot mark on the mountain.
IN LINE -- A line of irises in the leaf litter.

April showers bring, well, April flowers

The sky is cloudless and the temperatures are already in the 80s with the sun is just over the yard arm.  The magenta wild phlox caught my eye rolling down the road to the recycling center. It was a given that when I got back, the camera and I were taking a walk down the road. I’d also seen the leaves of crested iris poking some 3-4 inches above the leaf litter, but didn’t expect to see any flowers until later this month. Surprisingly, many of them on the darker, cooler north slopes were blooming. Of course, native dogwoods were in their white glory today, their flowers capturing sunlight filtering through the quickly closing canopy.

Magenta phlox
Vivid phlox peers upward from the roadside.
Crested iris.
This crested iris was blooming well away from the road. Knowing that diamond backs and copperheads are active now that it's warm, shooting from the road was probably the safest option.

Iris going strong on the north face of Round Mountain's shoulders.

Backlit dogwood flowers
White dogwood flowers capture the early April light.