Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Out to Azalea Island

The storm clouds rolled dark and daunting as I drove up and over Mount McGregor today on my way to the Hudson River.  I almost turned back, but I'm glad I didn't, because by the time I arrived at the site for launching my canoe, the sky had become mostly blue and the river lay calm and inviting, welcoming me back for the start of a new paddling season.

I'm late this year to get back on the water, and I really wanted to visit the islands just upstream from the boat launch site before the azaleas are spent.  Lord knows, most of the trees are now gone, thanks to the work of beavers.

A couple of years ago, beavers had also sheared off most of the Early Azalea shrubs that thrive on these islands, but since then the shrubs have put forth new growth and are blooming now as if to make up for lost time.  Their flowers are so big and brightly colored you can see them from quite a distance away, but today the warm humid air wafted their intoxicating fragrance to me long before I actually laid eyes on them.

What distinguishes Early Azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum) from the very similar Pinxter (R. periclymenoides) are the sticky hairs that cover the flower tubes of the blossoms, as well as the intense fragrance of this species.  What a joy it was to make my way slowly around these islands, drifting along on the dark quiet water, breathing deeply the sweetly perfumed air.

On my way home, I stopped along a powerline right-of-way to visit a patch of Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis) that I know grows there.  Lucky for me,  a few of its deep-red yellow-lipped blooms had already opened.


threecollie said...

Lovely, as always! thanks for taking us along.

The Furry Gnome said...

Glad you're out on the water again. Beautiful pictures of those azaleas!

catharus said...

Interesting notes about Early Azelea, vs Pinkster. I'll have to make closer observations! Thank-you for the notes on identification!

Unknown said...

So lovely to see wild azaleas..I never have!

Unknown said...

I found your blog last week and have enjoyed your photography and articles so much! I am learning a lot from you. Your pictures are absolutely stunning!