In the summertime Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) grows in a big leafy mound beneath our Japanese maple tree. At the end-of-summer chartreuse flowers invite dozens of velvet-bodied bumblebees into 'our woods.' A quick glance at my Illustrated Guide to Flower Types tells me those tiny yellow flowers are not simply arranged in clusters but instead, an inflorescence. The specific type of inflorescence is called a compound cyme.
Does any of this matter to me? No.
I will tuck myself against the trunk of our Japanese maple tree and watch the bumbles busily moving to and fro for hours, never concerning myself with proper names. Neither I nor my bee companions care much for formalities.
While the leafy mound of Lady's Mantle dominates the shaded corner of our woodland garden for months in the summer and autumn, in January its once striking leaves lie snow-covered and dispirited among the leaf litter. It is the delicate bronze pedicels which give life to the mound. The stems rise above the pulpous rosette, adorning the otherwise dormant perennial as if to punctuate the growing season with finality.
And while this quiescent corner of my south-central Pennsylvania backyard appears largely inactive our eyes deceive us, for the Dark-eyed juncos, House sparrows, Northern Cardinals, Black-capped chickadees, along with a variety of finches forage in the detritus. It is the insolent Gray Squirrel - raiding the birdfeeders for black oil sunflower seeds - whom the Lady's Mantle betrays as it seems a thin white thread of his fur has gotten caught up in the bronze brachts of the sleeping perennial!
Jessica Allen explores the fields and forests of Pennsylvania with her artist-husband, Michael Allen, and their son, Benjamin. She shares her observations through words and pictures of everyday magic and beauty she sees in her world.