Monday, June 24, 2019

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Oh, but Monday was a lovely day for a paddle on the Hudson!  It was warm and calm and the sky was actually much bluer than this photo makes it out to be.  One other thing this photo doesn't reveal, is that the current was swift and strong beneath that smooth calm surface.  It took quite an effort to paddle against the constant pull of the current, so when my arms grew weary I found a resting place in one of the quiet coves that can be found along this stretch of the river between the dams at Spier Falls and Sherman Island.

As soon as I entered this calm and shaded cove, I was delighted by this cluster of native Blue Flags (Iris versicolor), their vivid amethyst blooms glowing among a foil of green ferns and swirling grasses, the beauty of this arrangement mirrored in the dark, still water.

And look!  I wasn't the only one drawn to these beautiful blooms.  Do you see the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly landing on one of the flowers?

Here's a closer look at that spectacular butterfly.

I am super grateful for the many Blue Flags that abounded along the river banks, for they were just about the only wildflower I found today.  With all the rain we've had this spring and summer, the river has risen well up the banks to even enter the shaded woods, and the variety of sun-loving wildflowers that in other years line the banks were nowhere to be found.  Luckily, Iris versicolor doesn't seem to mind.  Out on the flowing river, I found many patches of Iris looking as splendid as this  one.

Unfortunately, I also found several clumps of Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus), an introduced species that is proving to be extremely invasive along riverbanks and streambeds.  Since I did not carry a shovel or pickaxe with me to dig out the stubborn roots, I broke off every flower I could find, including developing buds, to prevent this clump from producing seed that would float to other parts of the riverbank and produce new plants.  I ask my readers to do the same, if they find this invasive species on their paddling adventures.

Those Yellow Iris flowers can be seen in the stern of my canoe, which I've pulled up onto the shore of one of the islands that dot this stretch of the Hudson.  In past years, this island was teeming with a huge variety of native wildflowers: four different species of St. Johnswort, two different species of Arrowhead, masses of Golden Pert, the bristly little orbs of Branching Bur-reed, carpets of Bluets and Blue-eyed Grass, and two native orchids that bloom in June, the tiny Shining Ladies' Tresses and the greenish-yellow Tubercled Orchis.  Today, I found not a one.

I did, however find a small patch of Small Sundrops (Oenothera perennis), a species of Evening Primrose that opens its flowers during the day.

I was so glad to find these bright-yellow native beauties, I had to take another photo of them!

And here was another native plant with yellow flowers, our native Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), this one a woody shrub that grows high up on the bank, far from the rushing river that has drowned most of our waterside wildflowers this year.

While still producing buds for new flowers, this Bush Honeysuckle shrub is already sprouting seed pods.   I always get a laugh out of seeing these funny-shaped pods.  They look as if they could have been designed by Dr. Seuss!

1 comment:

Chris said...

Over here in Western Mass we are having a fantastic wildflower year although things are a bit late. Perhaps there is still hope for many of the favorites that are now underwater. I'm enjoying your blog a great deal and learning lots of new things, thank you.