Saturday, August 9, 2014
Mother Nature's Riverside Garden
It's August, the season for riverbank flowers to come into their fullest glory. Friday afternoon found me slipping slowly along the banks of the Hudson River below the Spier Falls Dam, delighting in the reflections of mountains and forest, their cool green serenity punctuated by the brilliance of late-summer blooms.
Every shoreline presented a garden of various textures and colors, including many (like the tiny yellow Golden Pert) that happily keep on blooming even when the water rises among the rocks where they bloom.
Tall stalks of Green-headed Coneflower shine out against the dark forest behind.
The Cardinal Flowers blaze like flaming torches, even amid the deepest shade.
In quiet backwaters, the still water holds the blooms of Cardinal Flower and Pickerelweed in perfect reflection.
Soon, the sunny yellow blooms of Helenium will add their color to the mix, and even now, occasional plants have already burst into brilliant bloom.
Mudflats and shallows are dotted now with the pure-white flowers of various Arrowheads holding their rosy buds above the already opened blooms.
Narrow-leaved Gentians, the first of the gentians to bloom, lean over the banks, holding their vivid royal-blue blooms to the light.
On islands dense with dogwood and blueberry shrubs, the brilliant pink blooms of Joe-Pye Weed hold their heads high, sharing their space with greenish-white Boneset.
Here was a real surprise: One still-blooming Smaller Purple-fringed Orchis hiding among the riverbank greenery. I have never found this orchid blooming so late in summer, but then, this summer has been a bit cooler than usual, so perhaps this flower has lingered longer than it usually does. I was delighted to see it.
I wasn't the only one enjoying this beautiful river today. How I wish I could reassure the Great Blue Heron that I mean him no harm, so that my presence would not frighten him at every bend of the river. But at least he let me get this close before spreading those giant wings and lifting off to slowly fly away.