Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Snow!  And a pretty-as-a-postcard snowfall, too.  Soft and dry, coating every branch and twig, and with starry crystals visible in every fluffy heap that piled up atop the remnants of last summer's flowers.

Aware that this frosted beauty would not last (the forecast called for rain to follow), I hurried off to several locations around Saratoga today, stopping first at a pine-lined walkway at Saratoga Spa State Park, where I took the three photos above.  I next drove out to Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail just east of the city, to walk the snow-covered trail out there.

This trail is lined by swamp on both sides, the now-frozen wetlands heaped with puffy tufts of Tussock Sedge (Carex stricta).

I was delighted to find this seedpod from a Canada Lily plant (Lilium canadense), not only because it looked so cute with its fluffy cap of snowflakes, but also because I was glad to see at least one of these lily plants had escaped the depredations of the Scarlet Lily Beetle, whose larvae destroyed many of our Canada Lilies last summer.

There were many birds darting about in the treetops, most of which I could not see well enough to identify.  I did note a couple of American Robins, however, as well as a small flock of Cedar Waxwings, undoubtably drawn to the many Poison Sumac shrubs (Toxicodendron vernix) that thrive in this wooded wetland.  We humans may have a low opinion of Poison Sumac, but it does provide valuable food for many species of wildlife.  And its drooping clusters of ivory-colored berries are also quite attractive.

Most birds prefer the sumac fruit to the low-nutrient fruits of Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), which means we get to enjoy the Winterberry's bright-red beauty well into the winter.  They looked especially pretty today with their snowy frosting.

I next stopped by Yaddo, the artists' retreat at the edge of town that is famous for its beautiful gardens, especially its well-manicured rose garden.  But I prefer Yaddo's conifer-shaded rock garden, where today those spruce and pine needles were laden with snow, as was the fountain that sits in the garden's center.

Yaddo is also home to one of the very few Tulip Trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) that grow in Saratoga, which is north of this gorgeous native tree's natural range.  A few of the branches of this majestically tall tree bend low enough to the ground that I could see the tawny bracts of its seedpods, today piled high with puffs of snow.

There's another tree on the Yaddo grounds that thrives here despite our location being far north of its native range, and that is a Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina).  In May, its branches are hung with numerous dainty white bell-shaped flowers, but this time of year, those same branches are hung with these tawny winged seedpods.

I also made sure to visit the American Bladdernut shrubs  (Staphylea trifolia) that grow by Yaddo's creek.  A few of its distinctive hollow pods still hung from the snow-covered branches.


Woody Meristem said...

Pretty, pretty, pretty -- snow is forecast for tonight so perhaps we'll see some real winter tomorrow.

threecollie said...

Gorgeous! And interesting about the trees. I love Winterberry and would like to grow some in one of our wet areas.

Kala said...

Thanks so much for the pics of Yaddo in winter (and for the notes re. the rare trees, which I didn't know about & will look for next time). I was there for most of last May, and I'm thinking about applying to go back next winter, which is how I found your post (searching for winter Yaddo). This gives me a great sense of its beauty in the snow.