Monday, May 29, 2017

My Beautiful Home Shores

 Oh, the heavenly fragrance of Early Azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum)! I could smell its perfume from way across the road.  These beautiful pink blooms tumbling over the boulders along Spier Falls Road signaled that I was about to have a lovely paddle on the Hudson River yesterday.  It was not the most beautiful day for a paddle, with overcast skies and a looming threat of rain, but I had yet to put my canoe on the river this year to explore my beautiful home shores, and I was not to be dissuaded.

And I'm glad I was not.  How I love these boulder-lined, forested shores of the Hudson between the Spier Falls and Sherman Island Dams!  Here, there are little islands with mossy banks studded with wildflowers (like the Bluets pictured below), and quiet bays where the water lies still enough to mirror the sylvan beauty of the woods that crowd the shore.

For weeks before this, the river had been dangerously rowdy from all the rains and the run-off pouring down from the surrounding mountains, and the water level had been so high, most of the shoreline flowers had been underwater.  But on this day, all was serene, and the shoreline boulders now bore the little Lance-leaved Violets (Viola lanceolata)  I had been longing to see.  In fact, I found many more sites where they have appeared this year, a testament to the power of those high waters to distribute their seed.  A few years back, I found only one patch, but yesterday I found them on almost every rocky bank, right down by the water line.

Another violet hugging the shore was the Marsh Blue Violet (Viola cucullata) , bearing its large purple flowers on long slender stalks well above its heart-shaped leaves.

This is one of the violets missing from the record for Saratoga County, so I was happy to see so many plants. There were more than enough to spare a single specimen to be vouchered by the New York Flora Association and documented in the New York Flora Atlas.  Before I collected a plant, however, I examined the hairs on the flower's lateral petals, noting the blunt hairs that distinguish Viola cucullata from other blue ones.

As I paddled slowly along in the almost undetectable current, I delighted in the way the water mirrored this Nannyberry shrub (Viburnum lentago) with its big clusters of tiny white flowers.

If you click on this photo, you might be able to detect that each tiny floret has five petals, a factor that helps distinguish these blooms from those of the several dogwood species (Red Osier, Silky, and Round-leaved)  that will bloom along these shore in the weeks ahead.  The florets of the dogwoods have only four petals.

Here were more lovely shrubs:  The low-growing Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) clinging to the thin soils atop the shoreline boulders.

Here's a closer look at those snowy-white blooms punctuated by their red anthers.

And talk about RED!  These beautiful crimson Columbine flowers (Aquilegia canadensis) were like the cherry on the top of this wonderful river paddle.


The Furry Gnome said...

Must have been a lovely paddle!

Woody Meristem said...

Truly beautiful country and with the flowers to accent the beauty.