Thursday, May 21, 2020

A Walk In Our Woods

When we found this land twenty-six years ago, much of our time was spent walking in the wooded section along our southern border.  Here the bedrock ridge was well worn by past glaciers and disappeared under level field forming deposits.  Water oozes constantly from the base of the ridge but it never finds an outlet.  Gravel soil drains it away.  Trees growing on rock makes them prone to being wind thrown and these woods have experienced great changes during our time here.  Age and concern for our safety have limited the time we spend walking here but today Becky wanted to look for a specific plant.

In 2009 she found a single Dwarf Ginseng plant growing among the Hemlocks.  It later disappeared but when found again something had eaten its flower.  One of our wire cages was hauled into the woods to protect this rather rare plant.  Despite our absence from the woods, we easily found the wire cage.  One small plant had become three .   As luck would have it each of these plants were in flower for our visit.  We plan to return to try and see the yellow seed berry.

Spring beauties have been rather common in several places.  Their growth habit makes them nearly impossible to move.  The visible above ground growth is a considerable distance from the pea sized corm.  The thin connecting thread could not be removed intact.  As the plant is dying down the corm is filled with nutrients.  If enough of the connecting thread still exists, it can be followed from the remains of the plant revealing the location of the corm.  Dug then the corm can be successfully moved.  We have never been able to find a corm.

This is the largest stand of Spring Beauties on our land.  These plants always remind me of my maternal grandmother.  She and her father were likely responsible for my interest in growing plants.  Both maintained impressive gardens.  Every time I encounter this plant it reminds me of her.  She referred to a group of plants in her garden as Spring Beauties.  I think that those plants were violets.  Her words may have referenced their appearance rather than calling them by name.  Given the difficulty in moving these, we must walk to the woods to enjoy them.

That walk has become very difficult for us.  A ground hugging single strand of barbed wire marks the property line.  It has always been difficult to see but now fallen trees block what was our path.  Large pieces of broken bedrock litter the ground making sure footing difficult to find.  We need to stay close to the barbed wire to find level dry footing.  Neither of us fell or scratched our ankles so the walk must be considered a success.

Despite being listed as an endangered plant, Gold Thread thrives on the present conditions here.  A careful look might reveal the white flower located near the center of the right edge of the picture.  In addition to vast spreads of this plant on the lumpy wet hemlock forest floor here, we have also found it growing on the soil mass held by wind thrown trees.  This is another plant that we will not move to our shade garden.   Nearby are extensive stands of Toothwort.  A few of those plants will be carefully moved.  It makes an excellent ground cover when placed near other plants that cease to show any above ground growth when the tree leaves open.  The Goldthread, Dwarf Ginseng and Spring Beauties  will remain where they are.  We seldom get to see them but we know they are there.

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