Saturday, May 19, 2018
Treasure means different things to different people. Most would see little more than moss covered rocks. Closer examination with a hand would reveal just how easily the moss rolls off of the stones. That is why each stone was carefully placed in the cart with no two edges touching. The moss growth is what we are after here. These specimens were found on the nearly level ground adjacent to the steep side slope of our kame terrace. A scattered mix of pines and hardwoods create a lightly shaded area supporting little plant growth. These stones were nearly buried in the forest soil that slowly builds here.
This area is between two clusters of sumac trees in our shade garden near the road. Several years of piling grass clippings diminished the pasture grasses that flourished here. Remaining roots were removed and a layer of partially rotted reground tree bark was put down to discourage their return. Then the stones were placed. Our nearby pile of woods soil contributed nearly natural soil placed around the stones. Then the Columbine plants were placed. A final layer of chopped and screened leaves finished the job.
The moss covered rocks create a more natural appearance than the stones in the background. Moss growing on stones is fragile and we will need to work to keep it alive. Their new home lies in afternoon sun and that alone may end the moss. We will try to keep the moss moist but accept the fact that fooling with nature is tricky.
Columbine is an amazingly hardy native plant. We found it growing near the gravel bank and it was easily moved. These plants from seed were pulled from our shade garden near the house and moved here. Their initial response was to droop and wilt but recovery quickly followed. By nightfall only the outermost tips remained pointed downward. Early this morning, just as the rain was beginning to fall, this is how the moved plants looked. Their flowers continue to approach fully open and seeds will certainly follow. Next year this ground will be covered with new plants.
My first encounter with Columbine remains a vivid memory. Amy and I were hiking near Ithaca above Buttermilk Falls. At one place near the stream steep exposed shale cliffs closely bordered the trail. The thin layers of broken shale caught on every small outcrop and somehow Columbine seeds found anchorage there and flowered. How these plants found nutrients and moisture remains a bit of a mystery. My plants placed with care may have it far too easy. We shall see what follows here.