Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mother Nature's Midsummer Garden

Another hot day.  Despite several recent downpours, my home garden flowers are pretty sorry-looking, wilted and brown from the heat and lack of rain this summer.  I went out and sheared a lot of them down today, just to rid the garden of unsightly stalks, then grabbed my canoe and headed off to the Hudson, where the constant rise and fall of water levels keeps Mother Nature's garden in beautiful bloom.  And oh, it was a lovely day for a paddle, with the river smooth as silk beneath my boat.

I headed upstream, circling a pretty island where tall pines lean over the banks, and flocks of Tree Swallows soar out over the water, returning to perch, all atwitter,  in the tops of the trees.

Steeplebush and Blue Vervain are rooted in rock and reach for the sky.

Cardinal flowers glow as if lit from within, their blazing red seeming even more brilliant when backed by the dark shade of the woods.

Here's a healthy clump of Mad Dog Skullcap growing out of a rotting stump, their little blue flowers set off quite prettily by a spike of rosy Steeplebush.  Could a professional landscape artist design a lovelier combination?

I was quite surprised to find Wild Senna already coming into bloom, and delighted as well, to see more plants this year than ever before.  There were mostly buds, but I did find a single open flower.  Since official floral atlases do not record this species for Warren County, I clipped a stem to prepare as a vouchered specimen for the state herbarium.  (I was over on the Warren County side of the Hudson River, which here forms the northern boundary of Saratoga County.)

Bedstraw Bellflower and Sensitive Fern are each beautiful in their own right.  But see how their beauty is amplified when the two occur together.

Approaching an island, I spied many bushes of Black Huckleberry and just had to beach my canoe and go gather me some.  But unlike the sweet juicy huckleberries we found last week in a bog, where the bushes' roots have constant access to water,  these berries were sour and dry.  Uh oh, there are going to be some hungry unhappy Black Bears this summer.

Since I was already beached on this island, I walked around it to see what might be in flower.   It being about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, I managed to catch the Marsh St. Johnswort in abundant bloom.  Come back in the morning, and none of their buds will be open.

Most of the plants had leaves that were green edged with red.  But this one was red through and through.  Gorgeous!

The Boneset buds were starting to open, their fluffy white blooms set off quite nicely here by a large clump of ferns.

Joe-Pye Weed was also in bloom, with dusty rose flower heads set atop purple stems.

A large patch of Golden Pert made a splendid backdrop for this radiant spray of Blue Vervain.

Down in that patch of Golden Pert I found a few stalks of Horned Bladderwort.  Unlike most other bladderworts, this species  doesn't float freely about in the water, but stands as if rooted in the damp sand.

Well, I guess every garden has to have its Groundhog.  But I'll bet Mother Nature doesn't mind this furry critter being here.  Certainly, I was very glad to see it.  What a cutie!


happyone said...

Your photos are amazing. My favorite one this time is the second one.
I'm also learning so much here!
I really enjoy your blog. : )

Carolyn H said...

Very nice! Makes me wish I had a paddling place near me! I'm just glad the 97 degree heat is broken. I enjoy being in the woods a lot more when it's not that hot!

A Healing Reality said...

I love groundhogs-they are so adorable. Great picture!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thank you, dear readers, for stopping by to comment. That always give me a quick way to get to your blogs and see what you've been up to.