We couldn't have had a lovelier day (or, in my opinion, a more important task) when Greg Redling and I walked Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail today. Greg is Stewardship Coordinator for the land preservation organization -- Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature) -- that will be managing the projected trail work that I feared might endanger some of the more unusual plants that grow along this trail. I had posted a blog about my concerns for these plants, and Greg responded by offering to walk the trail with me and mark those plants that needed to be protected. I am extremely grateful to Saratoga PLAN for their sharing my concern, and I'm also glad to have had Greg's good company along the trail on this gorgeous late-spring day.
The projected trail work involves creating an eight-foot-wide, raised and crushed-stone-paved path from the parking area along Rte. 29 to the bridge that crosses Bog Meadow Brook. These renovations should go far to eliminate the problems often caused by flooding along this section and will also prepare this part of the trail to connect with a projected Greenbelt Trail for use by bikers as well as hikers sometime in the future. (At present, Bog Meadow Trail, due to underlying railroad ties and frequent flooding, is not conducive to biking.) The remainder of the trail that lies beyond the bridge and passes by open marsh and through wooded wetlands will remain untouched by these renovations.
I have many reasons to applaud these trail renovations, but I feared for the safety of two species of flowers in particular that lie within this work area, especially since I have found these plants growing nowhere else in Saratoga County. The first of these plants that we encountered today was Rose Twisted Stalk (Streptopus lanceolatus), a plant that usually prefers a more northerly location but which has found a happy home well beneath the trailside shrubbery here.
The plant's location well beyond the trail's projected width and also hidden beneath the shrubs should help to keep the Rose Twisted Stalk out of harm's way. Also, Greg assured me that protective barriers will be installed between the trail and the woodlands and wetlands on either side. He also tied red tape to a shrub to mark this plant's location. Before the work starts, he assured me, he will return to place protective stakes around the plant.
I think Greg might have been wondering why I cared so much for such a plain green plant, but then I lifted up the leaves and showed him the beautiful pink bells that dangle from the stalk.
Greg was kept very busy tying those red tapes to mark the locations of the second plant we were concerned with protecting, the numerous Nodding Trilliums (Trillium cernuum) that proliferate along an extensive but defined stretch of trail before reaching the bridge. Since I had first found these trilliums blooming at least 10 days ago, I was surprised to find many specimens still in perfect flower. I was glad for Greg's sake that he got to see this beautiful flower, but I would have had a hard time distinguishing the leaves from those of the Red Trilliums that share this location.
Again, these flowers prefer to hide well under the shrubs, so our hope is that they will remain well out of harm's way during the renovations. But Greg's tapes will alert the workers to be extra careful to protect these plants. Although they are abundant at this particular location, state botanists have classified this species as one "of concern" because it has been disappearing from many places where it used to be found. It is also protected by state law as "exploitably vulnerable," due to its attractiveness to poachers.
Our primary task accomplished, we also enjoyed seeing other beautiful flowers that abound along this trail. Among the most abundant bloomers today was the purple-flowered Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum).
Just as numerous were the tiny blooms of Grove Sandwort (Moehringia lateriflora) spangling the grass by the side of the trail.
Also vying to be called the most numerous were the hundreds and hundreds of little Dog Violets (Viola labradorica) lining the trail beyond the bridge.
We were constantly serenaded by the "banjo twangs" of Green Frogs as we passed between wetlands, and after Greg and I said good-bye, one hopped right in front of me and then sat still for the picture-taking.
Greg had to return to his workplace to obtain some signs warning hikers of the pending work on Bog Meadow Trail, but I was free to continue along the trail to greet many of the beautiful wildflowers I come to this trail this time of year to see. Water Avens (Geum rivale) is one of those flowers, and it's easy to miss, with its small nodding flowers that never open any wider than those in this photo. But obviously, I managed to find them, just where I remembered them growing in past years.
The flowers of Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) are easy to see, since they bloom on branches right at eye level
Certainly, Mayapple leaves (Podophyllum peltatum), being huge and abundant, are always easy to spot, but it's not always easy to glimpse the big white flower that hides beneath those big leaves. This was my lucky day!
The bright yellow flowers of Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) are held on tall stalks high above the heart-shaped basal leaves. This is a wildflower that definitely likes damp soil.
Do I have a favorite wildflower? No, there are too many beautiful ones to choose just one. But the elegant Starflower (Lysimachia borealis) would certainly be among my top ten.
The yellow flowers of Clintonia (Clintonia borealis) are nodding now above their shiny green leaves.
Here's the last of the bellworts to bloom, the dainty Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata), which has leaves that look as if they were pierced by their stems.
Most of the wetlands that surround Bog Meadow Trail are not technically "bogs," but rather swamps and marshes and wooded wetlands that are not particularly acidic. But there is one trailside area of standing water lined with sphagnum mosses where Bog Buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata) thrives. I was delighted to find it blooming today with its furry white flowers.
I detected the fragrance of Early Azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum) well before I spotted its beautiful pink flowers blooming well off the trail. There used to be a particular arrangement of railroad ties that would alert me when I was near to this wonderful native shrub's location, but this year those ties had been moved by trailworkers, so I had been afraid I would never find this shrub again. Well, it called to me by its clove-scented fragrance, so now I know I can find it again using my nose. What a treat to cap off my walk along Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail!
Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail will soon be closed to hikers for most of the month of June, while trail work progresses -- including the creation of a new access trailhead from Meadowbrook Road. I'm glad I was able to visit these delightful wildflowers while I still had the chance.