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.


Louise said...

That Marsh St. Johnswort is beautiful. I had never heard of it and rushed to look it up to see whether it was native or not. It is, ta da. Now to figure out where I might find some around here.

How are your swamps holding out? When I was at the Thousand Acre Swamp last Saturday, everyone was aghast at how dried up everything was. Are things as dry up there?

squirrel said...

I think my favorite it is Steeplebush. I also like the Marsh St. Johnwort. These are both new plants for me, well, they are all new. Good way to stay cool.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Louise, if you want to find Marsh St. johnswort, go look in a marsh. Even a dried up one. And go at midday, when the flowers deign to show their faces. I'd wait until after this terrible heat wave passes, though.

I agree, squirrel, that Steeplebush is lovely. Such a deep rose color and I love how the stems and flower spikes are often gracefully curved.

Wayne said...

What a lovely summer collection of flowers. Your capture of the bumble bee visiting the buttonbush is perfect. I often paddle around the island, but rarely stop. I'll have to change that!

Raining Iguanas said...

"That island draws my camera like a moth to a back porch camp light"

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

So good to hear from you, Wayne. And yes, do stop at that little island and stay awhile. It's a little piece of Paradise, with all kinds of lovely flowers growing there and a perfect spot for swimming, with deep water right off of rocks. The current rushes through that channel between the larger and smaller islands, so you can swim in place against that current, a kind of watery treadmill, or let it swoop you downstream on a lovely joy ride.

You said it, Raining Iguanas! You certainly have a winning way with words.

Anonymous said...

Small bedstraw - even the tiniest flowers are charming in their simplicity.