Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Midsummer's Day Madness

Summer arrived today, and with it a day of suffocating heat.  What kind of crazy people would spend a stifling day like today tromping about in a wetland, blazing sun pounding down like a load of hot bricks on our backs, sweat washing the eyeglasses right off our noses?   Well, they don't call us wildflower nuts for nothing!  That's my friend Bob above, a fellow . . .  er, nature enthusiast, who kindly drove me some hours away to a nature preserve known to be home to the incomparable Showy Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium reginae), truly the queen of the Lady's Slippers.

I'm sure that only a fellow orchid enthusiast would understand why we had to get out to this secret spot today, to catch these incredibly beautiful native orchids while they were still in bloom.  I can't think of anything I could say to convince other folks we hadn't lost our minds.  Perhaps a few photos can serve as explanation.

 When we first walked into this wetland, we didn't see a single Lady's Slipper and we began to worry that we had missed their bloom time.  But then Bob let out a yell:  Here's one!  By the time we were done exploring the area, we had counted over a hundred, most in full glorious bloom, a few past their prime, but many more still in bud.  What a day!

Those Lady's Slippers weren't the only orchids we found in there, either.  Small groups of the White Bog Orchis (Habeneria dilatata) were scattered about the wetland,  holding tall spikes of snowy white blooms well above the surrounding greenery.

I had nearly despaired of getting a close-up shot of this orchid's little blooms until Bob pulled out a white folding screen and held it behind the flower spike.  At last my camera decided to focus on the flower instead of all the grasses beyond it.

Update:  Got a note from a blog reader asking if I had noticed the crab spider lurking among the florets.  I had not, but I do now!  Can you see it up there on the top right?

We were truly startled to find this single Grass Pink (Calopogon tuberosus) in bloom, since another bog where we know these bright pink orchids grow abundantly has shown no sign of them as yet.  

Finding that Grass Pink made it a three-orchid day, enough to satisfy the very nuttiest of nature nuts.  But what really crowned the day was discovering this little patch of Pink Pyrola (Pyrola asarifolia), a flower that's at least as rare in New York as the Showy Lady's Slippers.   We owe this find to a group of orchid enthusiasts who entered the preserve while we were just leaving and pointed  this lovely little flower out to us.

There were many butterflies flitting about the wetland, but none would sit still for a photo.  But never mind.  This baby butterfly did, and it's almost as pretty as its adult form, the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly, will be.


June said...

When I was very small my mother would take me to the woods and show me lady slippers and jack in the pulpits. I don't think I've seen one in person since I was six. So glad you got a good photo of the spiky White Bog Orchis . . . it's silvery!

catharus said...

Unreal! -- the beauty and delight!
Awesome! 'Just wish I could be there myself!
Thanks as always!!

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...


Thanks to you two, for going where/when I could not go.

And sharing it with us.

Thank you so much!!!!

"The implements of the little feast had been disposed upon
the lawn of an old English country-house, in what I should
call the perfect middle of a splendid summer afternoon."

~Henry James, "The Portrait of a Lady"

Carolyn H said...

Nice reward on such a hot day. One day of sweltering isn't terrible. I'm now on day 2 of sweltering and I'm ready for it to be over!

happyone said...

It may have been hot but you got to take some beautiful pictures. Thanks for putting up with the heat and sharing your finds with us.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Many thanks to all you dear readers, who take the time to leave your kind comments. I am so happy to share the wonders I find with you.

hikeagiant2 said...

Love the caterpillars outfit! ... and the Lady Slippers and other blooms are stunning beyond saying!