Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Back On the River Again

I think that this is the latest I've ever put my canoe in the river.  Why on earth did I wait so long?  How I love that sweet sensation of pushing off to glide across this blue expanse, even on a day as windy as Monday was.  I was glad to hug the shore where the wind was gentled, delighting in the tiny Bluets spilling down the banks and nestling in among the rocks and the roots of trees.

But eventually I made my way across open water,  to a little island not far from shore, because that's where I hoped to find many shrubs of Early Azalea.  Even before I was close enough to spy their brilliant blooms among the greenery, the wind carried their delightful fragrance to me, so I knew I would not be disappointed.

Oh, what a sight!  Everywhere I looked, I found another shrub with branches loaded with brilliant pink blooms.  Three years ago, beavers gnawed every shrub on this island down to the ground, but now they have come back even more abundant than before.

Some were a very deep vivid pink, and others a more delicate shade, like this one.  If you click on this photo, you might be able to detect the tiny glandular hairs on the base of the flowers.  These glandular hairs are the source of this flower's exquisite fragrance and one of the most distinguishing characteristics of this species of azalea.

A few other lovely flowers share this island with the azaleas.  This is a flower cluster from one of the shrubs of Black Chokeberry that also thrive here.

There are lots of Low Blueberries, too, with white bell-like flowers tinged with pink, and even more shrubs of Black Huckleberry, shown here in this photo with their ruby-red flower buds.  If you click on this photo, you might be able to just make out the tiny resinous dots on the leaves.  These resinous secretions help us to differentiate these shrubs from the look-alike blueberries, because huckleberry leaves will stick to our fingers if we pinch them. Blueberry leaves will not.

After saturating my senses with the fragrance and color of all that grows on this island, I next headed downstream to where the Hudson runs back behind an island and in and out of several sheltered coves.  On a rocky bank bordering one of these coves, I hoped to find the rather elusive Lance-leaved Violet.

And there it was!  Nestled into the cracks of a bankside boulder, and blooming more profusely than I have ever seen it before.

You can see the long narrow leaves that give this violet its name, both common and scientific.  Lance-leaved Violet is Viola lanceolata in Latin.

OK, I just had to take one more photo.  Such a beautiful flower, pristine white with long curving purple veining on its lower lip.  Some years, if spring floods persist into its blooming time, I may not find this violet at all, and I've never found it anywhere else in Saratoga County.  I'm so glad I managed to make it out on the river today!

1 comment:

The Furry Gnome said...

Always nice to get the canoe back in the water in the spring! That second picture of the river reminds me so much of northern Ontario. Looks like the Hudson has some very nice paddling! (Nice flowers too).