Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Two Wetlands

One wetland is called Bog Meadow (although technically it's a swamp not a bog), and the other wetland I explored this week was the genuine thing, a real sphagnum bog.  Each offered its own delights.

Most of the leaves are down now, along Bog Meadow Nature Trail, but it was still a pleasant walk on Monday along the Gray Birch-lined path that leads through a forested wetland.

Tawny browns and silvery grays predominate in this landscape,  but I still found a few bright points of color, especially among the dogwoods.  Out in the swamp, the twigs of Red Osier Dogwood were living up to their name, and along the trail, the pedicels of Panicled Dogwood glowed a brilliant rose, now that their berries have dropped.  This bright sprig has caught a puff of milkweed silk in its branchings.

No shrub rivals the Winterberry for adding jolts of color to the late-autumn woods.

In summer, no other flower that grows here outshines the bright showiness of Canada Lilies, with their large dangling bells in shades of orange, yellow and red. Their flowers have long ago faded and fallen, but their erect seed pods offer us another, more subtle, beauty.

Compared to the muted neutrals dominating the woods along Bog Meadow trail,  the landscape of the northern bog I visited Tuesday was truly an explosion of bright color.  Here in this acidic habitat, underlaid by millennia of Sphagnum Moss, the American Larches were glowing gold as they towered over the ruby-leaved Huckleberries and other heath shrubs.

White puffs of Cottongrass were swaying on long slender stems throughout the bog, each one seeming to dance to its very own music.

The Bog Rosemary plants appeared to be dressed for Christmas with their narrow leaves of emerald and scarlet.

Big shiny Cranberries rested on soft beds of deep-red Sphagnum Moss.

A small Red Russula mushroom had sprouted up amid the moss.

Even though the Highbush Blueberries had shed their leaves, their twigs and next-year's buds still added quite a bit of color to the scene.

In the midst of all this exuberant beauty, which plant delighted my friend Bob and me the most today?  Well, it was very tiny, as well as faded to tan, which made it nearly invisible among the dying grasses.  Can you see the plant that Bob is trying to focus his camera on?  I very much doubt it.  I can hardly believe we managed to see it, ourselves.

Here it is, lit by a brief ray of sunlight against a dark background.  This is Yellow Bartonia (Bartonia virginica), a plant not considered rare in New York, but one that is doubtless much overlooked because of its tiny size and pale color, even when flowering.  This one has gone to seed, but it really doesn't look much different than it did last summer, when its straw-colored, bell-shaped flowers were in full bloom.

Every time my friends and I come to this bog (sorry, it must remain nameless), we challenge ourselves to see if we can find the Bartonia.  Even though we are SURE we remember exactly where we found it last, it often eludes us completely.  Today, Bob and I were able to see it in four separate places.  Hurray!  It doesn't take much to make wildflower nerds like us happy.

But then, who could ever be unhappy, wandering such a beautiful bog as this?


Anonymous said...

Nice bog. Is this DB at LG?

catharus said...

Lovely! Bogs/fens are special places!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks for stopping by, Anonymous and catharus. Glad you could come along on my bog explorations. I wish I could reveal the bog's location, but access is through private property, and I am sworn to secrecy. But I can truly say it is not DB at LG.

June said...

Thank you for finding the color, and for describing brown as "tawny" and gray as "silvery."
It helps.