Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March Has Arrived


This first day of March featured both garden work and a walk in the woods.  At our age we need to vary our activities to limit the impact of various physical impairments.  Today we got it right.  After activity ice on the hips was all that was needed to control the pain following outside work.  If we can stay smart, we may get to work every day weather permitting.


Partridge Berry is a native wildflower that persists in our dry woods.  When we happen upon it, the patches are usually small or limited to a single plant.  We encountered a huge group of these plants while exploring a nearby waterfall.  Conditions there favored its growth.  Here the plant is in competition with escaped pasture grasses.  There is little doubt about which plant will survive.  The consequences of early farming activity continues to inhibit the occurrences of our native plants.

These plants were growing under the fallen tree leaves.  I simply cannot understand how covered plants continue to function when fallen leaves block their exposure to life giving sunlight.  Jane has told us of finding arbutus plants in bloom when the only clue to their existence was their scent drifting on the breeze.  She brushed aside the covering leaves to find arbutus plants in full bloom despite the blanket that had hidden them.  Willing to take no chances, I keep my arbutus clear of fallen leaves with careful hand picking.


We planted snow drops near the memorial bench built to mark the final  resting place of Becky's parents.  The pictured plants self seeded from the introduced plants.  They have pushed their new growth above the leaf cover in most spots.  Some leaves have been pierced by the new growth.  The serious bad news here is the appearance of a garlic mustard plant.  We have recently read that garlic mustard puts a chemical into the soil that may limit the growth of desired plants.  It directly attacks the mycorrhizae fungi that aide wildflowers in extracting nutrition from poor woodland soil.  This garlic mustard will have to go.  Garlic mustard is on the eradicate list for 2017.


The mechanics of how seeds naturally dropped on the soil surface form underground bulbs has always puzzled me.  Here bulbs were found growing above the ground.  They were carefully pushed into the soft moist soil.


Becky found this hemlock tree with two trunks growing in the back woods.  The near trunk is dead and it was likely opened by a Pileated Woodpecker.  We frequently hear the sounds of their drilling echoing from the ridges but rarely see them.  The fascinating texture of the exposed dead wood needed to be photographed.  We wonder what creature will find this opening to be a suitable home site.


This tree had the misfortune of taking root along the line separating a field from the woods.  A fence was set to keep the cows in the pasture.  The tree simply grew around the wire.  Seven strands of barbed wire seems excessive but as original strands weakened with rust new wire was simply added.  The fallen fence post shows that the tree survives long after the artificial posts rotted and fell.  We will need leaves to identify the type of tree still growing here.  Scars in the bark limit accurate identification.  The tree is showing buds so identification should be possible when they open.

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