Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Midsummer's Day Madness
Summer arrived today, and with it a day of suffocating heat. What kind of crazy people would spend a stifling day like today tromping about in a wetland, blazing sun pounding down like a load of hot bricks on our backs, sweat washing the eyeglasses right off our noses? Well, they don't call us wildflower nuts for nothing! That's my friend Bob above, a fellow . . . er, nature enthusiast, who kindly drove me some hours away to a nature preserve known to be home to the incomparable Showy Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium reginae), truly the queen of the Lady's Slippers.
I'm sure that only a fellow orchid enthusiast would understand why we had to get out to this secret spot today, to catch these incredibly beautiful native orchids while they were still in bloom. I can't think of anything I could say to convince other folks we hadn't lost our minds. Perhaps a few photos can serve as explanation.
When we first walked into this wetland, we didn't see a single Lady's Slipper and we began to worry that we had missed their bloom time. But then Bob let out a yell: Here's one! By the time we were done exploring the area, we had counted over a hundred, most in full glorious bloom, a few past their prime, but many more still in bud. What a day!
Those Lady's Slippers weren't the only orchids we found in there, either. Small groups of the White Bog Orchis (Habeneria dilatata) were scattered about the wetland, holding tall spikes of snowy white blooms well above the surrounding greenery.
I had nearly despaired of getting a close-up shot of this orchid's little blooms until Bob pulled out a white folding screen and held it behind the flower spike. At last my camera decided to focus on the flower instead of all the grasses beyond it.
Update: Got a note from a blog reader asking if I had noticed the crab spider lurking among the florets. I had not, but I do now! Can you see it up there on the top right?
We were truly startled to find this single Grass Pink (Calopogon tuberosus) in bloom, since another bog where we know these bright pink orchids grow abundantly has shown no sign of them as yet.
Finding that Grass Pink made it a three-orchid day, enough to satisfy the very nuttiest of nature nuts. But what really crowned the day was discovering this little patch of Pink Pyrola (Pyrola asarifolia), a flower that's at least as rare in New York as the Showy Lady's Slippers. We owe this find to a group of orchid enthusiasts who entered the preserve while we were just leaving and pointed this lovely little flower out to us.
There were many butterflies flitting about the wetland, but none would sit still for a photo. But never mind. This baby butterfly did, and it's almost as pretty as its adult form, the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly, will be.