What to make of this tight rosette? Could it be Common Evening Primrose?
Over at the High Line where plants are left to do their four season thing, it's the beginning of a busy time, spring cutback. (link to the high line's blog post on the cutback beginning) An army of volunteers will be assisting the hort staff over the next six weeks with cutting back grasses and perennials that have been left as is over the winter months in order to make way for this year's emerging shoots. So if you're the kind of person who enjoys getting to know plants in all their stages, the next few weeks are the last opportunity to see what's still standing on the High Line after winter, while the new season is beginning. The practice of waiting for late winter for cutback is cool for a lot of reasons. There's the beauty of course to pay attention to in winter and the invitation to wildlife who might nest or feed during the winter months, but for a beginning gardener there's also the potential for a lesson to be learned about what not to pull out of the early spring garden. Identifying plants by their remaining stalks or earliest stages as a seedling is a useful skill and at least for me, it's a lot of fun to learn.
Over at the lot where we planted bulbs last fall, we are still exploring what has managed to grow in this very disturbed space and we are doing that by observing both dried stalks and young rosettes as well as emerging seedlings. I think the tight rosette pictured above is a young Common Evening Primrose, Oenethera biennis. I don't think it makes a great cut flower, but it's a native plant that will remain as is. If I'm wrong? Well, I'll at least learn what it is for the future. The mugwort below? Well, that's going to have to go. It's a useful plant, but it is a thug.