Wednesday, July 20, 2011
An Island of Relief From the Heat
When it's too hot for a sweat-soaked, bug-ridden hike through the woods, that's when I head to the Hudson. There's a little island there that offers a perfect place for a swim, and it's just off the boat launch on Spier Falls Road, so I don't even have a long carry or hard paddle to reach my destination of cool watery relief. Five minutes from when I park my car, I'm up to my neck in the river. Bliss!
The island has certainly recovered from the ravaging spring floods. I was afraid that the flowers that normally adorn it would have been washed away, but now the blooms are bursting forth as beautifully as ever. Here's Steeplebush, firmly rooted along the island's rocky shore.
Big spikes of bright-purple Pickerelweed emerge from the warm sandy shallows at one end of the island.
All these low areas are now carpeted with Golden Pert, making the riverbank look as if it were lit from within.
Masses of Pale St. Johnswort add to the golden glow.
The showiest of all showy wildflowers, Cardinal Flower is just beginning to open its blooms, of such a super-saturated hue, no camera can adequately capture its vivid red.
This minute little bedstraw, named (appropriately) Small Bedstraw, occupies the opposite end of the spectrum of showiness. Unlike most other bedstraws, this one has three-lobed flowers instead of the usual four lobes. It was so small I had to blow up my photo to make sure it had three-lobed blooms.
All arrowheads have three-lobed flowers, including this one, which is Grass-leaved Arrowhead.
Buttonbush balls look like they have literally "burst" into bloom, but that explosive appearance certainly hasn't frightened away the bees, whose eager numbers set the whole bush to buzzing and bobbing.
I don't know of any monkeys with faces that look like this, although that's supposedly how Monkeyflower got its common name.
This wee little Marsh Speedwell was hiding under the leaves of other plants, and it took a diligent search to find it where I remembered it growing a year ago.
The plants of Marsh St. Johnswort are easy to spot, with their clumps of burgundy buds and with leaves outlined in wine. But to catch them in bloom is another story. I think they may open their pretty pink flowers for maybe fifteen minutes a day. This was my lucky day.
Taking the scenic route home, I spied another pretty pink flower along an old stone wall. This is Queen-of-the-Prairie, and as its name suggests, it is native to grasslands further west than New York State. Brought east as a garden plant, it has since escaped from cultivation to make its way to meadows nearer my home.