Fall into Spring

In nature, transformation is something we look forward to regardless of the time of the year.  We watch for the changes in temperature and length of days in eagerness for a new season!  In the fall we “color watch,” anticipating the changing colors of the leaves that signify cooler and shorter days are ahead.  The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the first yellow leaves remind us that the reds and oranges are on the way. As the days get even shorter in the fall and the temperatures cool down further, nature sets itself up to go dormant. And then at just the right time it prepares to burst out in the spring with greens and dashes of color equal to the brilliance of fall.  The greens seem to gradually change right before our eyes from new, light greens to the dark greens of summer.  While these magical changes occur in the same trees that we anxiously watch in the fall, much of the magic of spring is on the forest floor.  Spring wildflowers!
 
Spring wildflowers signal the renewal of the forest and start of a new season.  April is prime time for wildflowers in South Carolina. “Ringing” in spring is the Oconee Bell (shortia galacifolia), one of South Carolina’s earliest and most unique wildflowers. It can be found blooming from mid-March to early April every year. Colonies of the Oconee Bell put on quite the show along the Oconee Bell Nature Trail at Devils Fork State Park.  The bells only ring in the start of wildflower season- the real show is about to begin. From bloodroot to mayapple, violets, coral honeysuckle, atamasco lily and so many more, wildflowers flourish in state parks.  Walk along almost any trail and you will find the colors of spring awaiting you.  Some of my favorites are the bells and bloodroot, as they announce that it’s springwildflower season.  Like the changing of the leaves in fall, the colors of wildflowers accent the beauty of forest and serve as a frame for trails, creeks and rivers with adventures ahead. 

Soon the trillium will be in bloom in the mountains with their amazing beauty and diversity. Trillium, as the name implies, have everything in threes, three leaves and three petals, and usually bloom when cold weather is truly over and the transformation from winter to spring is complete.  It’s time for another season in state parks as the wildflowers announce spring.  Change is good, and nature reminds us that change is a constant and natural occurrence.  Spring reminds us of rejuvenation and a fresh start.  In the fast paced world we live in, I think the changes in nature serve as a reminder for us too. A reminder to slow down occasionally and discover wildflowers and that the changing of the seasons may even provide that same rejuvenation and renewal for the observer.  Give it a try and “fall into spring.”  


See you in the parks!


Phil