Now, why would I want to endure the discomforts of making my way through such an unaccommodating place (especially on a hot muggy day like today)? Well, the short answer is: it's ORCHID season! Specifically, it's the time of year when the White Fringed Orchids (Platanthera blephariglottis) bloom in amazing profusion when they find a place they like. And they certainly like this bog! I only explored a small portion of it today, and I counted over 75 in full glorious bloom.
I'm sure there were even more, hidden among the shrubs, like this duo I missed until I peered over the top of that baby Black Spruce.
Most of the orchids were in full bloom, with florets even starting to fade at the bottom of the inflorescences, but here and there I found a few with some buds that were yet to open.
As happy as I was to see all those orchids, I really wasn't surprised to find them there. They're big and showy, after all, and truly hard to miss when they're in bloom. But here was a flower I'm always surprised to find: the tiny greenish-flowered Yellow Bartonia (Bartonia virginica).
I know they're supposed to grow in here, because I have found them before. But it's always only by accident I happen to see them. They're very small, almost as fine as the grass they hide among, and their tiny yellowish flowers barely peek out from among their green bracts. I had actually given up on finding them today and was making my way to where I could exit the bog, when --Voila! A stray ray of sunlight happened to pick out their spindly shapes against some shadows. A nice little treat to cap off my bog excursion.
There were other treats, too. Like finding a single blooming stem of one other orchid, the Grass Pink (Calopogon tuberosus). When a friend and I were here nearly a month ago, we found over a hundred of these gorgeous orchids in bloom, but I had already given up hope of seeing any today. And then I found this one. Only one, in all the area I explored.
I found one other brightly-colored flower, called Water Willow or Swamp Loosestrife (Decodon verticillatus), which in some ways was a bit surprising to find in a bog. I see this native perennial wildflower quite often along lake-shores and streams, so it doesn't really require the acidic habitat of a sphagnum bog. But I was glad to see it blooming here.
Here's one more thing I was REALLY glad to see: Black Huckleberries (Gaylussacia baccata) that were absolutely laden with fruit. These berries were so big and ripe I could just reach out and tap the twigs, and the berries fell into my hand. I made a kind of basket from my bandana and spent a happy half-hour gathering enough to take home for my husband, devouring quite a few as I went along. Don't they look good enough to eat? Indeed, they were!