The coronavirus lockdown that began in March 2020 provided the perfect excuse for me to start on a project I had been mulling over for some time. I had always wondered how many blooming species were present in my yard, and when they were blooming throughout the year. This could serve as an indicator of nectar & pollen resources for pollinators.
Well, there’s only one way to find out. Count them! Over and over and over again…
Starting March 15, I have been going out every Sunday during midday to find & identify every blooming wildflower species on my little 0.4 ac suburban homestead. Each Sunday, I will mark every species as either 1) new for the season, 2) disappeared (I saw it last week, but not this week), or 3) reappeared (it was here, gone, then back this week).
I counted all species, whether they were wild, cultivated, native, or non-native. I did not make notes on bloom abundance. That is, even a single Tulip (bulb) flower counts that species as present, the same as the White Clover with many thousands of blooms across my lawn.
I provided results last month in a mid-season update to residents of Maria Center, our independent living center. Sorry, no photos from that! But, a lively discussion on flowers & pollinators.
I’ve got too many iron(weeds) in the fire right now for a full report… I’ll save that analysis for the winter months. But here are some basic plant metrics, and two collages with blooms of all sorts.
Total Species: 132
Native / Non-Native: 62 / 70
Cultivated / Wild: 53 / 79
Weeks counted (so far): 23
Bloom diversity seems to be peaking the last 4 weeks, as I’m consistently seeing over 50 species per Sunday count! I will expect this to drop pretty soon, and sharply. As the numbers above show, I’m averaging about 6 new blooming species each week.
The longest blooming species goes to the humble dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), which I have found every week but 3. The average species blooms for about 5 weeks.
There have been several species that I had not seen before. It was a good opportunity to use keys and apps to learn some new species.