Thursday, March 1, 2018

Bare Earth, Open Sky

Weary of slogging through snow or slipping on ice, my feet were craving the feel of yielding bare earth beneath them, and I knew exactly where I could go to satisfy that craving.  Passing by in my car, I had noticed wide-open fields of bare earth where the Saratoga Spa State Park edged Route 9.  With the air soft and warm and a lovely blue sky overhead, that's where I went to enjoy a walk yesterday.  Parking my car near the Warming Hut, I set off across wonderfully snow-free fields toward the paved pathway that circles this part of the park.

This paved path is a favorite of dog-walkers, bikers, and strollers all year, and there were many folks out enjoying this spring-like late-winter day.  A row of Red Pines shaded this stretch of the path.

In more open areas, various shrubs had been planted along the walkway, including this Red Osier Dogwood with its vivid red branches.

Alternating with those red-twigged dogwood shrubs were other shrubs with colorful twigs, only these were as vividly yellow as the Red Osier was vividly red.  A close look revealed the opposite branching and pin-dot lenticels I usually associate with Red Osier, and I wondered, could this be a cultivar of that native dogwood?  A quick Google search when I got home revealed that this was, indeed, a cultivar of Red Osier (Cornus sericea), now offered by nurseries to add color to a winter garden.  Its name is Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea.'   Now I am wondering: is this cultivar capable of naturalizing in the wild?  And if it reproduces sexually, do its offspring exhibit this same bright-yellow color?  Anybody know?

Continuing on to where the path leads into the New York State Tree Nursery, I saw whole hedge-rows of vividly colored shrubs, including this ruby-red patch of Red Osier, set off by a row of dark-green White Cedars and a meadow of golden grass.

More red-twigged dogwoods, except this row consists of Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum), almost as brilliantly red as Red Osier but distinguished by lenticels that create stripes in the bark, rather than pin dots.  Both dogwoods are species native to this region, and are cultivated by the State Tree Nursery for use in reforestation and land-reclamation projects.

In this photo, the dogwood plantings alternate with rows of baby Pitch Pine and Red Pine.

Where the tree nursery abuts the Saratoga Spa State Park golf course,  these ancient Sugar Maples stand guard over an equally ancient house, long abandoned and now open to the elements.  Some 25 years ago or more, a litter of Red Fox kits was living under the porch, and my husband and I used to hide behind some trees to watch them come tumbling out when mom fox arrived with a woodchuck for dinner.  This house was decrepit then, and is even more derelict now.  The park once offered the house free to anyone who could propose a good use for it, but there were no serious takers.  Too bad.  Despite the ravages of time and neglect, the house still shows the beauty of its original early-19th-century design.


threecollie said...

One thing we have been seeing lately is old houses and barns being renovated and repaired. So heartwarming and happy-making. We have been getting out on real ground a bit too, although the grass is still pretty soggy. Can't help but love it though!

Woody Meristem said...

Ah, the tales that old house could tell. It must have been a really beautiful place in its day.

Anonymous said...

No more bare ground today!