Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bog Wandering with Nan and Ed

I'd follow them anywhere, Nan and Ed. These two botanizing buddies have explored just about every botanical treasure trove in the northeast, and lucky for me, they've shared some of their favorite places with me, during the last year or two that we've become friends. So just imagine how pleased I was to have introduced Ed last summer to an amazing bog near Lake George, a bog you can just drive up to and walk right into, no pushing through thickets or wading through waist-deep moats or hauling boats through brambles, just park the car nearby and amble in.

Ed had been eager to share this bog with Nan, and today was the perfect day to do so: pleasantly warm, thin clouds to veil the sun, and not raining for a change. When Ed asked me to join them, I paused for a moment, thinking there might not be very much in bloom just yet. But then I regained my senses. It's ALWAYS a good time to visit a bog, especially with such expert botanizers as Nan and Ed. We'll certainly find SOMEthing of interest, I thought. And boy, did we ever! As soon as we slipped through the hedge that surrounds the bog and came into an open clearing, here's what met our eyes: Calopogons by the dozen!

Calopogon tuberosum, also called Grass Pink, may not be one of our rarest orchids, but it sure is one of our most beautiful. Large and showy, with bright magenta blooms that stand out from the surrounding greenery, it was very easy to see as wandered the bog, exclaiming with delight as we discovered more at every turn.

There was a limit to their abundance, though, we discovered as we wandered further afield into areas so overwhelmed by Leatherleaf and laurels, there was no sunlit space beneath for orchids of any kind. We were able to follow deer paths through the shrubbery, but still, my knees and shins began to complain of pain from all the scratchy twigs. How dumb of me to visit a bog in shorts! Ed out there was smart to wear his jeans.

Much of the bog was much more comfortable for walking, with deep, soft mounds of sphagnum moss cushioning every step. It seems that this is an "anchored" rather than a floating bog, with generations upon generations of sphagnum having grown so deep it hit bottom, so to speak.

The sphagnum was so pillowy, it was tempting to think about lying down in it, except that it was also soaking wet like a sponge. If I stood still for more than a moment, cold water would seep up and bathe my feet. Very refreshing, since the sun was starting to burn through and heat up our backs.

Except for the Calopogon, a couple of Pitcher Plants, and these Large Cranberry flowers pictured below, there was little else in bloom in the bog today, although we saw many White Fringed Orchids in swelling buds, abundant as Dandelions. We'll certainly have to come back to witness their show. They and the Cottongrass should be well in bloom within two weeks.

But as I said before, there's always SOMEthing of interest in a bog, even when nothing's blooming. These pink-flocked fruits of Bog Rosemary, for example, are just as pretty as the pale pink flowers were a month ago.

I was fascinated to find these golden baby cones on some Tamaracks.

Other Tamaracks close by had rose-colored cones, like these that I photographed in another bog two weeks ago. Very curious! Why are some rose and others gold? They will all turn brown, eventually, as they harden.

The day was still young as we left the bog and headed to Dunham's Bay for a paddle in Ed's tandem canoe. That was fun, too, although the plant community along the stream we paddled was rather monotonous, much less interesting than the bog. Anyway, I was too busy paddling to take any photos of the stream. But I did get a shot of these Yellow Swallowtails puddling about in the mud near the parking lot.


Andrew Lane Gibson said...

I can't help but make it a daily habitat to comment on your posts. I've yet to come across someone who has seemingly the same interest in what plants and environments to seek out and share. This post takes me back to all the bogs I visited a couple weeks ago and saw almost all the same things. I'd die and go to heaven to see the White Fringed Orchid. It's endangered in Ohio and only known from one bog at this time. It's been a life species I've wanted to see for years but have never knew a good place to search. I guess I'll have to come see you to get the best of!

catharus said...

As always, Jackie, thank-you! Yes, this all is just so awesome -- the adventure, discovery, and wonder! I too love bogs, and plan on doing some "bogging" myself this weekend with my special friend and guide, a professor emeritus of botany from Penn State. I haven't been to the bog in a few years, but based on that first visit, I expect to see some great blooms. I'll keep you posted....
My real love of bogs/fens/vlies was rekindled from my hike of the NPT two years ago -- there are quite a number of such areas that intersect the trail.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you went 'bogging' and then shared with us. My mornings usually start with your blog. Then I go out and try to find out new things on 'my' Giant. Thanks!

Louise said...

Isn't it true that there is always something interesting to see? I find that even in my own back yard. As always, I enjoyed walking with you. You and your friends find such interesting places to visit.

You asked about my daylilies. I don't collect different cultivars, exactly. But I do find that I can't resist buying more every year. Last year, I went hog wild and bought more than I ever bought before. So, this year, I'm eagerly waiting the bloom, deer repellent in hand, to see what develops.

Leontien said...


I came over from Louise's blog, she calls you her mentor and since i love her blog i needed to check it out!

Glad i did!


John said...

Thanks for sharing. This is an excellent post! The shots of the tiny cones show that you have a great eye for pictures. I just found your blog through SwampThings and was drawn in by the name alone - I will have to keep following!

Louise said...

You asked, on my blog, if I always carried my cellphone, when I am exploring alone in these out of the way places. I do, faithfully. And, I always have my trekking poles with me, too. I figure they offer me a small amount of protection( a good bonk on the head with a metal pole might slow someone down), and they're a big help even on flat land, in stepping over logs or other obstacles.

suep said...

hey count me in when you return to the Bog - I've been wanting to go there all summer !
Did you guys check for Bartonia(sp.)?
that place is truly a local gem

My Mind's Eye said...

We came over to visit your at the suggestion of "Retired living in W. NY".
She is right your blog is both educational and BEAUTIFUL. My brother in law lived in Syracuse for many years. Visits to him educated me on the beauty of upstate NY.
Madi (cat) and Mom

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

A.L., I certainly sense a kindred spirit in you. Come and visit soon (I have spare bedrooms) and I'll take you to see enough White Fringed Orchids to last you all your life. I'd sure love to see the beautiful photos you would take. My readers should click on your name here to see what great finds you show us on your blog.

catharus, what a loyal reader you are! I'm always glad to hear from you, and I hope your blog visits are all you could hope for.

Thanks, hikeagiant. I'm glad to have your blog to start MY mornings with. You also find some really interesting things.

Louise, I'm always glad to see what's up in your part of the world, too. Thanks for starting up your blog again, and thanks, too, for sending so many of your readers my way. I'm glad to hear you're being careful about your safety when you go out.

Thank you, Leontien. Welcome! Glad to have you along.

Thanks, John. This web world is just amazing, how we make connections.

suep, we can visit that bog next week. Those white orchids were just about to bloom and there were lots of buds on the Calopogon. I looked around for Bartonia, but it's way too early for blooms and its foliage just blends in with the grass.

Welcome, Madi and Mom. Any friend of Louise's is a friend of mine. It was fun to visit your blog and see all those great dogs. Are they all good to cats like you?

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Oops! I had Madi's blog mixed up with someone else's. Sorry, Madi. Your blog is definitely kitty-centered, although I suppose a dog might come into the picture now and then.