A Walk in the Spring Woods, with Liz and Allaire

Things you might see in nature this April and May... plus, a meditative coloring page.

 

Spring. That first smell of earth, a welcome whisper of warm air, the subtle brightening of a still-thawing landscape. We all await that turn of the season.

Like many of us, VLT ecologists Liz Thompson and Allaire Diamond delight in tracking seasonal shifts as they explore Vermont’s wilds. They shared these notes from their spring-time journals. You may spot some of these plants and animals on your next walk in the vernal woods. 

Allaire was also inspired to create a lovely artwork! Shapes and textures from Vermont’s landscape make for an intricate design that can be a meditative coloring page for children and adults alike. 

Download the artwork to color at leisure, and find Allaire’s thoughts on each piece hidden within.

 

A Walk in the Vernal Woods

Bloodroot

small white flower with yellow center - spring wildflower

If there’s one flower I can depend on to appear early (aside from tree flowers), it is bloodroot. This flower practically shouts, “Spring is here!” I delight in the veiny leaf that wraps itself around the emerging flower, protecting it from the early April chill. Then the flower bursts forth, spreading its white petals and showing its bright stamens to passing insects. It’s tempting to scratch the lower stem to see its red sap, but I resist, and let it be. — Liz

Flowering red maple

vivid red and golden blooms on a tree bud - flowering red maple

I’m never lonely in the woods. Catching my eye like a friendly wave, red maple trees always have something red going on, no matter the time of year. When they flower, each bud opens into a mini bouquet of blooms. The flowers bursting from this bud have elegantly curving Y-shaped stigmas, as well as tiny stamens, with pollen-containing anthers sitting on slender stalks. — Allaire

Trout lily

yellow widlflower with bee hovering near it

Trout lily gets its name, we think, from the mottled leaves that look a little like a brook trout. Or is it because it blooms when the trout are running? I caught this bee approaching a trout lily flower last spring, looking for nectar. It didn’t seem to mind a little beetle that was sitting on a petal. — Liz

Spotted salamander eggs

amphibian eggs in a gel-like mass held in a hand - spotted salamander eggs in the spring

Springtime forests bathed in light are a special joy. I love catching the glint of sunlight on the surface of a vernal pool. Beneath the surface, egg masses of spotted salamanders seem to glow from the depths of the otherwise dark water. Though I rarely see the mottled salamanders themselves around these little wetlands, I know they spend their lives near where they hatched, so some have probably noticed me. — Allaire

Pedunculate sedge

a flowering grass with white rice-like petals

When I roamed the woods as a child, I often noticed grassy patches. I later learned those were sedges. It’s fun in early spring to hunt for flowering sedges in the woods. Male and female flowers are found in different clusters, on the same plant, and the wind blows the pollen from the male flowers of one plant to the female flowers of another. — Liz

Hepatica

luminous purple wildflowers - hepatica - VLT

The sight of the first hepatica in the woods in early spring is enough to take my breath away. I love searching for hepatica flowers of different colors—they can be white, pink, purple, or blue. I don’t know if pollinating insects care about those differences. They aren’t too fussy in the cool of early spring. Sleepy, and looking for nectar where they can find it, they’ll roam from flower to flower. — Liz

What are your favorite signs of spring?

Learn more about spring wildflowers on May 4 (check out our Events). And we’d love to know what you’re finding in the woods. Share your photos on your social accounts using #StayGroundedVT or email us at info@vlt.org.

smiling woman - Liz Thompson - VLT

Liz Thompson

woman smiling - Allaire Diamond - VLT

Allaire Diamond

Photo of flowering red maple courtesy of Northern Forest Atlas, photo by Jerry Jenkins.