Saturday, January 29, 2011
Woods Hollow Weeds
Another beautiful balmy day with still unspoiled snow. Where could I go to enjoy it? Today I chose Woods Hollow Nature Preserve in Ballston Spa, a beautiful pine woods and sand dunes area I often explore in the growing season for all the native plants I find there. But never had I visited there in winter. Time to see what it was like with its pond frozen over and its woods deep with snow.
Well, for one thing, this place is very popular with skiers and snowshoers, so the trails were well packed, making for easy hiking. There's also a great sledding hill, which was getting a workout today. Sure wish I had brought a sled. Looks like fun.
A bright overcast sky shed a luminous shadowless light in the woods, perfect for displaying the graceful shapes of branches and twigs and seed heads. It could be this little shrub is a blueberry, but I'm not sure. What struck my eye were the arching curves of its twigs and the stark contrast of its dark branches against the snow.
The fat little catkins decorating these twigs reveal it to be a hazelnut shrub, probably Beaked Hazelnut, since that's the kind of hazelnut I have found growing in these woods.
I love the graceful arrangement of these Sensitive Fern spore stalks, especially how they stand out in this shadowless light.
The arcing stems of Leatherleaf bent over the snow-covered ice. This plant will keep its appropriately named leaves all winter, only yielding them to new growth after it blooms in the spring.
Sheep Laurel is another plant that holds its leaves all winter, although they do look a bit battered.
The yellowish bracts of Witch Hazel cling to the twigs long after the flowers have fallen, so the shrub appears to be in bloom all winter.
Bright Winterberry adds one of the very few spots of color to be found in the winter woods.
Although drab in their coloring now, the winter remnants of last summer's weeds and grasses possess a beauty of a different kind. The flower head of this Canada Goldenrod is as graceful as a fountain.
This grass (what kind?) presents us with a study in elegance.
Thriving amid the goldenrods was this plant with its spiked flower heads. I should know what it is, but its identity escapes me, although its graceful beauty against the snow does not.