Oakland County’s Vernal Ponds – Alive With Wood Frogs!

Photo credit: Taylor Reynolds

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

We knew winter really was over and spring was firmly taking hold on the wilder side of Oakland County when my hiking companion and I unexpectedly encountered an ancient amphibian ritual deep in the woods of Bald Mountain Recreation Area. Although light rain fell the evening before, the sun was shining. Only a few, very small remnants of snow remained on north facing slopes of the glacially sculpted, wooded hills, and the temperature had just reached 55°F. Those environmental conditions were perfect for the encounter that was about to occur.

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One Week into the Wonders of Spring!

An Eastern Bluebird looks down from his perch on a branch, the background in the image is blurred.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“At the end of winter, there is a season in which we are daily expecting spring, and finally a day when it arrives.” – Henry David Thoreau The Journal, 1837-1861 (Thoreau, 2009)

The Spring Equinox is an exciting symbol of rebirth, growth, and awakening. Creatures that hibernated are stirring, birds are returning from distant lands, and the earliest of spring’s woodland wildflowers are pushing up through thawing soils. For me, that moment of recognition of the passing of winter was not the appearance of lawn-hopping robins or the emergence of crocuses. It occurred on the first day of spring at Bear Creek Nature Park in Oakland Township. That’s where a friend and I watched an Eastern Bluebird perched on a tree limb, waiting for an insect to appear in the meadow below. Perhaps its sudden downwards plunge and the capture of a bug that followed was confirmation to the bluebird that, as Thoreau once wrote, “ . . . and finally a day when it arrives.”

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Nature’s Wonder – While We Stayed Home

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same fields, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

It’s not easy to compress an entire season into 1,000 words but I’ll give it a try in today’s Wilder Side of Oakland County. Taking place the day before the first day of summer, consider this a phenology flashback to the ways and wonders of nature while we mostly stayed home the entire season of spring.

Phenology! It’s a word that devoted followers of nature’s way know well. Phenology is the calendar of nature’s “whens” —  when trillium blooms, when gray treefrogs first sing, when monarchs migrate, when sassafras leaves turn red, when snapping turtles cross roads, when honey bees gathered first pollen, when turkey vultures return. In more scientific terms, the Aldo Leopold Society describes phenology as “The study of periodic life-cycle events in nature that are influenced by climate and seasonal change.”  That critical sentence confirms nature’s calendar changes – sometimes slightly, sometimes dramatically. Attentive eyes note the change.

Spring was truly a beautiful season of renewal for those with a love for nature and the ways of the wild. I meandered my woods and meadows as well as few nearby wildlands armed with my camera and abundant patience almost every day from late March until the middle of June. I found peace, pleasure and endless excitement in nature’s way. The words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, which I cited above, were my guiding light of exploration; for even common flowers and wild creatures take on special beauty when we pause long enough to watch, listen, discover, and learn. Perhaps they were your guiding lights of comfort as well?

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Plan Your Dream Garden at a Greenhouse near You!

Are you thinking spring? Even though the weather hasn’t been cooperating, you can still start planning your dream gardening project. Visit one of Oakland County’s 22 greenhouses and nurseries now to get help from the experts and choose from thousands of different plants, flowers, and trees that will inspire your garden oasis. Attend a workshop or chat with a Master Gardener for help with ideas, colors, annuals, perennials, organic gardening, pests, and more.

With so many area greenhouses and nurseries to nurture your green thumb this season, you’ll find our interactive map, complete with over 20 countywide locations, fun and easy to use. Simply find your location and click on the nearest green floral icon to reveal the name and address of the nursery located there. Do you prefer to view a list? Check out our Oakland County Nurseries and Greenhouses page.

In addition to a plentiful range of nursery information, our gardening map can help you select the most suitable plants for your microclimate. Before you head to the nursery, click on your location on the map to reveal the USDA hardiness zone.

We can’t wait until the weather breaks so we can get started. Happy planning and hopefully, planting soon!


Make the most of the spring season in Oakland County by visiting our website for more news and events. Follow along with us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, YouTube, and Pinterest using #OaklandCounty.