Tag Archive | flowers

Tanglewood 2018

Our mid-May Wednesday hike was one of those days when the thermometer indicated a warmer temperature than what we perceived. With a cool breeze blowing, we spent quite a bit of time deciding whether we needed jackets. We had agreed to explore one of the preserves closer to home and realizing that our walk through Tanglewood would be shaded, we opted to bring the jackets. Little did we know that those coverings would be a life-saver.

As I have mentioned before, Tanglewood is one of those places that is wet even during the dry season, so we did anticipate that we would need to work around some rather large puddles. To our advantage, the last few weeks had been rather dry but we still needed to walk around some mucky areas. What we had not taken into account was that this was the middle of May, the first week after Mother’s Day, and the black flies were out with a vengeance. I had never seen it so bad. When my friend stopped to hunt for frog and salamander eggs in one of the off-trail ponds, I soon grew tired of waving the bugs away and donned a bug net. If it wasn’t for the nets (and the jackets) we would have been forced to give up our ramble and head back towards the safety of our car.

Once we were appropriately attired, we were able to continue our exploration of the area. Except for the swarm of flies, this was the best time of year for observing the growth of the spring season. A few days before I had noticed the leaves of various wildflowers but no other color than the green foliage could be found. Now, we found new flowers springing up on a daily basis and I happily pointed out different wildflowers for my friend. As we walked along the Forest Trail, I pointed out sessile-leaved bellwort and painted trillium.

Our goal was to take the Forest Trail to the campground and then circle back on the River Trail. It took us some time to reach the camp since there were so many interesting things to study. In addition to the wildflowers, we also had to stop and take pictures of the Wood Frog that we had startled as we disturbed its hiding place in the leaf litter. We eventually reached the campground and had to stop to admire the suspension bridge that crossed the river at that point. The last time I saw this bridge was during  winter a few years ago. Now I noticed a sign with the word “Pitcher Pond” that pointed to a trail on the other side of the river. I wondered if that would be an excursion for another day.

From the camp, we followed the river back towards the entrance. Along the way, there were additional flowers to admire. I was not sure about some of them but I later identified one as a wood anemone. When we reached a grove of rather tall plants with ribbed leaves growing up from the center of the leaves beneath, I recognized this from my months’ long attempt at trying to identifying it when I spotted it in Central New York. I was happy to be able to name it as a false hellebore. (The plant is toxic to both animals and humans if ingested).

As we made our way back to the car, we noticed that the swarm of black flies had dissipated a bit. Perhaps they let-up during the afternoon hours. Even though we felt rather warm at this point, we were not inclined to remove either the jackets or the nets for fear that the bugs would smell fresh food and return. After we were safely in the car, we removed our protective layers and headed for home.



Washington Park Arboretum


Perimeter Trail at Merryspring

During the first week of May, there was finally a break in the rain long enough for me to grab my adventure buddy and head over to Merryspring. This time, I decided to venture further afield by conquering the perimeter trail, without getting lost in the maze of trails known as the arboretum. Since my husband and I have experienced this confusion every time we have attempted walking the perimeter of Merryspring, he joked that I should have my phone, a GPS, map, flares and several days’ worth of food before setting out. Part of the problem was that not all the arboretum trails were marked on the trail map available at the kiosk, but after carefully examining the map, my friend and I figured that we just needed to keep to the right in order to stay on trail “1”.

Even though it was May, there was still not much green showing on the trees. The lack of leaves did enable us to get a clear view of ponds, streams and a couple of rock wall surrounded wells. With the abundance of rainfall over the last few weeks, not only was there plenty of moss growing everywhere but the trails were quite muddy. On one downward section of trail, I lost my footing in the muck and was down on my knees. No damage done, we continued on our journey.

As we walked, I noticed that ferns were just beginning to poke through the damp soil, the fuzzy curled up leaves just waiting for a few more days before sprouting up. Near the dreaded “A” marked trails, I found the tell-tale single first leaf of the Canada Mayflower. In fact I had noticed a carpet of these leaves all over the various trails we have hiked and I wondered if a few warm days would see an explosion of white flowers throughout the woods.

Keeping to the right, we managed to avoid getting lost this time around and it wasn’t long before we spotted the greenhouses and gardens near the entrance. Since my friend wanted a copy of upcoming programs and her own trail map we entered the main building where I took the opportunity to ask if there was a separate trail map of the arboretum area. I was surprised that the person we spoke to mentioned that he always got lost there as well and they were in the process of remaking a map for that area. Good to know that we were not the only ones to suffer this experience. When I mentioned that I was also disappointed that I had not spotted any flowers in bloom this late in the season, this staff member mentioned that things were blooming over by the vernal pond. Of course, I had to drag my buddy over to the vernal pond to see what was there. Once I found the blooming Blood-root I was satisfied. We walked the perimeter trail without getting lost, found new growth of ferns and Canada Mayflowers, and visited a few flowers in bloom; our day was complete.

Asticou Garden

asticouoct16-1As October approached, we hoped that the summer traffic through Mt. Desert Island and Acadia had died down enough for us to enjoy an off-season visit. The peak summer numbers would be down and the fall foliage folks would not descend for another week or so. In addition, a friend had given us a tip on how to avoid the traffic through Ellsworth and most of Trenton. With all this in our favor, we booked a night at a small inn near the Bar Harbor airport. This would allow us a full day to enjoy our visit.

Our asticouoct16-2first stop was Asticou Garden, located near Northeast Harbor. It was built by Charles Savage in 1956 who was inspired by Japanese garden designs. Thanks to Mr. Savage, the visitor has a beautiful, peaceful place to enjoy the calming effects of nature.

As we entered this oasis, the first thing we noticed was the well maintained, raked walkways. In fact, some outposts along the path were raked in crisscross patterns, inviting the wanderer to stop and meditate for a bit, and benches throughout the garden allowed guests to do just that. After passing through the moss garden, we followed a small detour to what might have been the “north lawn”. asticouoct16-3Not much light came through trees and tall rhododendron bushes but I could imagine that it must have been colorful when those bushes were in bloom.

Retracing our steps and meandering down a different loop we soon discovered the “sand garden”, a garden of rocks and raked sand. A small loop took us over a stream and deposited us directly across from the “sand garden”. The designers had strategically placed a bench by the stream facing the sand, inviting the visitor to stay a bit longer.

We asticouoct16-4continued our journey towards Asticou Pond, where we found most of the garden’s guests. This section was more open with uninterrupted views across the water to the foliage that was just beginning to put on its autumn colors. Strolling around the pond, we were amazed by the number of flowers still in bloom on either side of the path. I never knew that so many blossoms could be encouraged this late in the season. Everything was labeled, but alas we did not bring anything to write the information down nor did I think to take pictures of the labels for future reference. Probably just as well, with my inability to grow things. We spent a little more time soaking in the tranquility of this park before continuing on to our next destination.


Wildflower Walk at Merryspring



By the end of our stay in San Antonio (as is typical of vacations), we were glad to return home to familiar vegetation.  It seemed fitting to celebrate our return by joining a guided wildflower identification tour at the Merryspring Nature Center scheduled for the first weekend in June. Our leader for this trip was botany expert, Eric Doucette. Arriving a bit late, Eric joked with our leader that maybe we would get further into the park this time. I soon found out why. Eric is was so enthusiastic about his field and it was a pleasure trying to soak up the information provided in his observations.

We began our journey not far from the parking field, where we stopped to learn about the large leafed plant known as Burdock and the small purple flowers known as Ground Ivy. The Ground Ivy, a plant in the Mint family had an interesting violet shaped flower with fine fuzzy hairs within the throat of the flower. Like all plants in the Mint family this ground cover can get out of control if left alone.

Next,we headed across the field to examine two different cherry trees; a Choke Cherry and a Black Cherry. Eric first described the characteristics that distinguished these as cherry trees and then went on to explain how to tell them apart. The Choke Cherry has a less brilliant white flower and the leaves exhibit finer, pointed teeth. The Black Cherry has a flower that seems whiter than the Choke Cherry, more rounded edges to its leaves and a fine, rust colored fuzz along the central vein of the leaves.

Choke Cherry

Choke Cherry

Black Cherry

Black Cherry

Leaving the field for another trail, our guide continued to talk about Hawthorn Trees, Yellow Goatsbeard and Golden Rod. He indicated that Golden Rod was one of his favorites, maybe because it receives a bad rap for causing hay fever and he likes to root for the underdog.


Meadow Rue

Meadow Rue

Entering a wooded portion of the trail, I soon spied one of my favorite wildflowers known as Meadow Rue. Close by, Eric began identifying several different ferns; Ostrich,

Lady, Bracken and Christmas fern. No matter how many times I have been clued in on identifying ferns, I just cannot seem to get a handle on it. I am pretty certain I can recognize Christmas, Cinnamon (as long as it has a long beige stalk in the middle), Interrupted and now Bracken Ferns. My husband however, is becoming quite the expert in recognizing these different plants.

Further on, someone pointed out a cluster of Jack-in-the-Pulpits. This group was not that far from a healthy section of Canada Mayflowers and False Solomon Seals. Here, Eric pointed out that if you squashed down a False Solomon Seal it would look very much like a Canada Mayflower and that is because they are in the same genus known as Maianthemum (Latin for may flower).


False Solomon Seal

Canada Mayflower

Canada Mayflower


At this point, our organizer mentioned that our allotted time was up and thanked Eric for our guided walk. Eric did comment that we almost made it to the field this year, so I guess the group got a little further than last year’s tour. I mentioned Eric’s enthusiasm about his work at the beginning of this post, and indeed as we continued towards that field to circle back towards the parking lot, he continued pointing out various plants and went in to some depth about each.


Dame’s Rocket

When I stopped to admire a group of pink flowers, he identified them as Dame’s Rocket. He told me that Dame’s Rocket is often confused with Phlox but you could tell them apart because the Phlox flower has 5 petals while the other has only four petals. As we approached the parking lot, Eric’s final observation was to point out a rather large maple leaf. He broke off the leaf and showed us the milky white substance in its stem, thus identifying it as a Norway Maple. We thanked Eric for his time and hoped that we left the nature center a little wiser.