Like the weight of a heavy coat being shed, the passing of winter brings a smile to most people’s faces and a certain lightness of being. Our senses are revived, the air seems fresher. We again smell the earth and autumn’s leaf remains. As the daylight hours grow, our spirits rise accordingly. Spring is a season of renewal, for sure.
Warming days bring a long-sought transformation to our natural world; it’s miraculous, really, when the trees start to bud and the landscape greens. Colorful birds return from their far away wintering grounds, arriving in waves to fill the natural niches in our fields and forests, often splashing down on thawing lakes looking to nest.
In the hidden pools of warming woods all over the state, the distinctive high-pitched chorus of spring peepers signals season’s change. That, of course, will be followed by the deep bass notes of bullfrogs, the incessant buzzing of bees and delicate flutter of butterflies’ wings. All the while, tiny wildflowers, like the hepatica, and robust flowers, like the trout lily or marsh marigold, tenaciously poke through warming soils to embrace the sun. Their emergent splashes of color across otherwise drab winter landscapes soon fills in to create vistas of color for all to enjoy.
In this Spring issue of BLUE, we celebrate the return of spring and the beauty of flowers and nature, from the single stem growing in the wild to the lush, complex gardens found on Mackinac Island every summer. Julie Bonner Williams relished the assignment of learning about those gardens, their history and the master designer for most of the landscaping, island resident Jack Barnwell, who teamed up with Sue Allen and photographer Jennifer Wohletz to produce a stunning book about the gardens in 2019.
“Writing about landscaping and gardening, especially about the spectacular gardens of Mackinac Island, was inspiring,” Bonner Williams said. “Looking at those photos of lilacs and lilies in full bloom and having the privilege of personally hearing landscaping methods of a professional like Jack Barnwell? That was incendiary!”
The spring photos of fine arts photographer Mark Graf also grace our pages this issue. His magnificent Dwarf Lake Iris photo is found on our cover. It is Michigan’s official state wildflower and a federally listed threatened species. It grows only around the Great Lakes and is found in Michigan near the northern shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Graf’s essay on “The secret of seeing” provides good advice for photographers on the move out in the wild — and probably for all of us.
This issue also contains great stories about new gardens planned for Belle Isle State Park in Detroit, exceptional wildflower hikes and sustainable foraging practices, among other things.
Be sure to get outside, take a deep breath and enjoy the season. ≈
Howard Meyerson – Managing Editor, Michigan BLUE Magazine.
*Photo courtesy iStock