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.