Been somewhat remiss on my postings. The dead of winter, plants dormant and same old, same old. Now a few plants are emerging; the frontline that will provide pollen in February for the bees. All "blues", the guiding color in the spectrum bee are attracted to this early season. One exception though, the pinkish hedge nettle (Stachys drummondii). Just a name and not a true nettle but in the Mint Family (Lamaceae). The Stachys are the first of the mints to bloom in my yard followed by the skullcaps (Scutellaria spp.) and Beebalms (Monarda spp.) from March to June. The first of the Stachys, S. drummondii is my least favorite as they tend to get invasive and and unappealing to look at after dropping their leaves. Having smothered most of them in areas of my yard I walk a fine line between personal taste and providing for the bees. Next the mouseear betony (S. crenata) emerges but not as prolific.
Outside town a field is populated with the non-native Smooth Hedge Nettle (Stacys arvensis) but I've yet to see it in my yard.
Both skullcaps emerge about the same time in April-May and both share the same scientific name - Scutellaria ovata but one is a subspecies: ssp. bracteata. I don't know where the latter originated from but they are both commonly known as Heartleaf Skullcap. My favorite and last to bloom is ssp. bracteata. For years the same 5x5' plot of these skullcaps has returned under the magnolia. I wish they were just a tad more invasive. Photos this spring. Today I noticed the first of many spiderworts blooming and will continue thus until peaking in early April.
I'm back, so what's busted? My foot. Last week I decided after over a year of tolerance to have an operation to remove a benign tumor on the bottom of my left foot. For over a year my body ached as it subtly compensated for the pain in my arch. This lead to continuous muscle aches and particularly a nagging lower back pain that wouldn't heal following the beating it took during the gulf oil spill bird grab. To my amazement the pain decreased by ~90% in my lower back after the surgery even though I am subjecting my body to new resistance by now walking on crutches and preforming nearly all my daily chores and exercise, only taking twice as long to accomplish them. I still have no pain where the tumor was removed. That is until I hit it accidentally when it's not in the walking boot. Two days after my operation, I felt well (and cocky) enough to walk on the side or heel of my foot with the walking boot. Worked out fine and I pushed the limits on this foot until I was admonished by my doctor's assistant that I nearly popped the stitches open. That sufficiently scared me enough to follow doctor's orders and stay off the foot. Now relegated to the daily frustrations of living without the use of one leg and it's a real drag but only temporary as I hope the stitches are removed in a week. I changed the bandages and observed that the incision is sealed but surrounding it is a subcutaneous blood bruise, much like that of a black eye. I don't think this poses any danger to the foot and will dissipate in time.