Tag Archive | flowers

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

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Goatsbeard

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).

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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.

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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.

 

A Spring Visit

Memorial BayardCuttingMay15.1Day weekend we returned to Long Island. This time it was the happy occasion of celebrating the wedding of our friends’ son. We also took the opportunity to touch base with other friends who are still close to our hearts, even though a physical distance now separates us. And of course, we found the time to walk.

It seemed fitting that we gravitated towards the Bayard Cutting Arboretum. It was the place I went to just before my hip replacement, the place I returned to on the anniversary of my surgery, BayardCuttingMay15.2and the place I brought my mother to when she was slowing down. Perhaps, there is some healing that goes on when I visit this place. I do know that it is a place where I always seem to really immerse myself in nature.

We began our walk on the wilder side of the park, where there would be few encounters with other visitors. Most people who come here, seem to stay close to the water or the manicured gardens, not bothering to BayardCuttingMay15.3explore the areas left in a more natural setting. Even the views of the water were different; glimpsed through the green curtain of the surrounding vegetation.

It is here, that we found Wild Sarsaparilla and Canada Mayflowers already in bloom. I practiced my photography skills on these delicate flowers, but as usual, I could not get them in focus and handed the camera over to my husband, who of course, got a nice clear shot. I should probably take the time to learn how the camera works but that requires patience and the desire to spend the time doing it. I suspect most of us have a problem slowing down and taking the timeBayardCuttingMay15.4 to really learn something.

As we crossed the channel towards the more populated area of the park, we watched an egret wading through the water. We studied this creatures majestic movements from the opposite shore as it glided through the channel hunting for food. From the yellow beak and black legs I guessed that this was a Great Egret.

We soon joined other visitors walking the more popular promenade near the water. I wondered if they noticed the yellow lily like flowers in the wet areas nearby. I suspect they didn’t even pause to wonder atBayardCuttingMay15.5 the cypress roots that always remind me of an army standing guard in the woods.

Heading towards another unpopulated section of the park, a butterfly landed on the ground just in front of us. It paused long enough for us to really study it and admire the markings on its wings. Later, I was happy to identify it as a Red Admiral. We soon discovered that the next section of the arboretum was closed for a nesting eagle. After spotting the nest across the channel, we looped back towards our starting point and went to meet up with a friend.

Kaler’s Pond Audubon Center

After finishing my jaunt along the trail of the KahlerTrunkTerrell River County Park, I crossed the highway to explore Kaler’s Pond Audubon Center. This Audubon Center was created in 1998 through the joint effort of the Eastern Long Island Audubon Society, the Flight 800 Memorial Committee, and the town of Brookhaven. As I soon discovered, the Kaler’s Pond Center was a place created more for educational programs than for in-depth trail walking.

From the parking lot, I headed towards the pond to contemplate the water-view and the birds resting along the beach.KahlerMushroom The area was filled with geese, gulls and a few white ducks. Since these feathered creatures seemed to be content relaxing in their domain, I headed off in the opposite direction towards the memorial and the red barn.

The Red Barn seems to be where all the activity occurs. However, on this particular day all was quiet. I was fascinated by the way some wildflowers were growing out of tree stump; nature displaying an artwork that any human artist would struggle to achieve. KahlerStumpDuring my visit here, I would find several more exhibits of nature’s handiwork.

As I entered the woods, I found a mushroom cap resting on the dark dirt floor of the woods. The contrast of the white cap against the dark leaves drew me into the depths of the intricate design.

The trails were not complicated in this tiny nature center. Indeed, every time two roads diverged in this small oasis, I would travel down one fork only to find a fence blocking any further exploration. I would retrace my steps to investigate the other lane only to discover the same impediment. It wasn’t long before I had completed a tour of the entire park.

Emerging from the woods, I paused to admire yet another unique pattern designed my nature; the twist of a stump with ivy curling around it. Nearby Virginia Creepers were announcing the coming of a new season. I reflected on the pond and the beauty around it for a time before ending my travels. It had been a very rewarding day.