An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

March 26, 2011

Early Spring on the Shore

I have made several trips to Virginia's beautiful Eastern Shore this spring, where the new season comes slowly, particularly adjacent to the water.  At my home in Norfolk we are probably 2 weeks ahead of the Shore, even though we are just an hour south.  My theory is that the slow to warm waters of the Atlantic and Chesapeake on either side of the Eastern Shore keep the air temperatures more moderate and keep spring from busting out on a whim.  Perhaps the last plants that will give up their winter cloaks are the marsh grasses, and when they green up you know summer will not be far behind.

Metompkin Bay Sunrise 3-19-11

Parker's Creek

Parker's Creek (2)

Another sign of spring on the Eastern Shore is the departure of the Snow Geese.  This flock appears to be gleaning a final meal from the field before they they begin their return journey to the Arctic tundra where they will spend the summer making new Snow Geese.

Snow Geese

When I was on the Shore last weekend the Red Maples (Acer rubrum) were blooming and many other trees were growing their spring peach fuzz.  The local Saucer and Star Magnolias (Magnolia soulangiana and M. stellata) were about two warm days away from opening.  Closer to the ground Narcissus were in the early stages of opening up.  The clump below is next to the marsh near my parents house at the site of an old home.  All traces of the house are long gone but a rose-gone-wild and these Daffodils live on and have bloomed for at least 75 years.

Wild Narcissus

Earlier this month I wrote about a not always welcome sign of spring, the blooming of  Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule).  Last week it continued its flowering in the field next to my parents house, but so was a surprise plant to me.  I am pretty sure this lovely is a Euphorbia and doesn't it look good growing among the Henbit and the corn stubble?  The flowers were a brilliant acid green, it had red stems, the growth radiated out of a central point in the ground and it was only about 6" tall.  I could be wrong, but I don't think this is a native, rather it is most likely an escapee.  Does anyone know what species it may be, I would love to know?

Euphorbia (6)


Euphorbia (2)

Predictably a clump of this Euphorbia now has a home in my garden, and hopefully I got a piece without any Henbit in it.


  1. Euphorbia helioscopia?

    This caught my eye because earlier this week I dug up some Euphorbia cyparissias from an area about to be bulldozed in central VA. I didn't know what it was at the time and spent some time looking up Euphorbias in the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora. E. cyparissias is an attractive thing, but probably too aggressive for my garden, so now I'll dig it up again and discard it. I may wait until it's finished blooming though.

  2. Beautiful. That large flock of Snow Geese is amazing.
    Love the contrast of the Euphorbia and the henbit....maybe you need just a sprig?

  3. I love the grasses both during winter and in summer. The best part about trying a new plant out is that it's an experiment and they are always worth trying.

  4. What lovely shots, and a really interesting blog.

  5. Have no idea what that euphorbia? is but I have been staring at that color combination for about a half hour. What other two plants would create that? I was thinking of green hellebore and a miniature iris or maybe creeping phlox 'Sherwood Purple'. Any suggestions?

  6. Wonderful testimony of the arrival of spring!! I love these photos, especially the one with the crocuses in the middle of the dry grass! Amazing!

  7. Love the picture of the Snow Geese.

    You have a lovely Blog.

  8. Good find Les, hope your bit is free of weeds and thrives. :)

  9. Great pics Les...I love the marsh grass no matter the season. I noticed that our flock of snow geese has been gone from Pea Island and even the Currituck Sound for a few more bird pics til the summer visitors arrive!

  10. The euphorbia is really beautiful indeed. A nice surprise. I've never seen snow geese. How wonderful to be able to see such a large flock.

  11. I love your photography Les, you capture light and texture so beautifully. Can't help you identify the euphorbia, but it looks as if it was placed there by design it fits so well. There is something curiously melancholy and yet hopeful about daffs flourishing in the ruins of a garden.

  12. Love the last shot, that's gorgeous..

  13. Oh well, it's worth the henbit I think. So pretty together although I know henbit is a real drag sometimes. When I was a little kid, I thought the purple blooms were small rabbit faces. Les, your photos always impress me. You are so good at this.~~Dee

  14. I wz here
    and liked your landscapes. The blue top one is especially pleasing. Not keen on Euphorbia, so wouldn't know its name.

  15. Les,
    More amazing photography. The shot of the snow geese was great. Thanks!

  16. Over and over again I am struck by the beauty of the area where you live. The light, the water, the expansive sky all create something magical that you manage to capture on film.

  17. Entangled,
    I pulled E. heliosopia up on te Va Tech web site, and I think that is it. Thank you very much.

    I could not get a photo of just how much bigger the flock was. They were very suspicious of me.

    Those grasses are one of my favorite plant, but one I will never try in the garden, they belong elsewhere.

    Thank you for stopping by.

    Lime Zinger Elephant Ears and Pink Ribbon Grass.

    Thanks for the kind comments and for the visit.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I do try.

    The site I found lists it as an annual, so we will see.

    I am sure this flock is gone as well. I took it earlier in March and I'm sure they must have already left.

    They geese are truly amazing when they fly creating these great everchanging formations.

    I always wonder what the story was when you see plants growing where a garden once was. Who planted them, what else was there and where did everything go.

    Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed it.

    When I look at the small flowers of Henbit up close, it makes it hard to believe they can turn a whole field purple.

    The blue top one was my favorite and I changed what I was going to write just to squeeze it in.

    Thanks. That was as close as I have ever gotten to Snow Geese. Maybe zoom lens is in order.

    I am trying to capture as much as possible before the ocean reclaims everything.