Monday, July 1, 2019

Beautiful River, Beautiful Flowers

I can't imagine a better way to spend a lovely summer day than paddling the quiet backwaters of the Hudson River at Moreau. Here, in the catchment between the Spier Falls and Sherman Island dams, the river calms its course and flows serenely back into bouldered coves and around wooded islands.  Shaded by forest, the steep rocky walls are adorned with mosses and ferns that hold the dews and damps, providing a cooling refuge on even the hottest days.  I love to just mosey in and out of these coves, breathing the sweet green fragrance of the forest and delighting in the reflections on dark still water.

Even the more open waters were quiet today, where white puffs of clouds seemed to float on the mirroring surface, like lilies on the lake.

Because of recent and unremitting high water, the river's banks held few blooming flowers.  That made the few that had emerged a special treat. These pretty Blue-eyed Grass flowers (Sisyrinchium albidum) looked as if they were peeking at me from out of the waterside greenery.

I found patches of Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) high on the banks, blithely blooming away, unscathed by the recent flooding.

As for our native Blue Flag (Iris versicolor), it will happily adapt to standing in water deep enough to drown most other plants.  It holds its curvaceously sculpted blooms high above the fray.

Our wetland shrubs don't mind high water, either.  This Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) held an abundance of waxy white blooms, with swelling ovaries already well on their way to forming the bright-red berries this shrub is famous for.

Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum), with its rounded clusters of four-petaled white flowers, was the most common flowering shrub along the banks today.

I did see a few Common Elderberry shrubs (Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis) holding their distinctively flat flower clusters, bright-white against the dark green of its leaves.

The plant that packed the most POW! of color along the river today was the gorgeously pink Purple-flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus). Its big rose-like flowers were colorful even in the shade, but when the sun lit them up, they almost seemed incandescent,  lit from within.

Well, even those spectacular Purple-flowering Raspberry blooms couldn't hold a candle to the Wow-value of our native Wood Lilies (Lilium philadelphicum), which I stopped to visit on my way home from the river.  Dozens of them are now in full bloom in the powerline clearcut that runs just north of Mud Pond along Spier Falls Road.  When I looked for them about 10 days ago, I found only a few rather feeble-looking buds.  But now they have appeared out of nowhere, as if by magic!

Another amazing flower that loves this hot, dry, sandy spot is the Blunt-leaved Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis).  At the same time I came looking for lilies 10 days ago, my friend Sue and I found that most of these milkweeds had had their flowers nipped off, most likely by deer, I suppose.  But this one sure survived! I swear I could have found it blindfolded, its fragrance was so inviting!

Aha!  Here's another critter that found this flower irresistibly inviting!  After watching this little Silver-spotted Skipper spend so much time feasting on the sweet nectar of the milkweed, I began to wonder if its tongue had been trapped by the flower's pollen-bundle threads. (This sometimes happens, and I have seen it!)  But no, thank heavens.  When I touched the floret to check on the situation, the butterfly flew freely away.

Speaking of tongues, don't these developing Hazelnuts peeking out of their clusters of ruffly green bracts kind of look like snakes with their tongues protruding?

Ah, the New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) has burst into bloom at last!  And what an appropriate flower to make its appearance so close to the Fourth of July!  These exploding clusters of florets erupting from star-shaped buds sure look like the star-burst fireworks that light up our skies on Independence Day. 


Mark zayac 16 said...

Hi jackie,worked at the race track this summer. Was able to find the rare seal at north woods.what a great place!!! Thanks for your sharing

Mark zayac 16 said...

Can you recommend a similar place,about 50 miles south?

Mark zayac 16 said...

We have the rare hearts tongue fern near Rome ny,at the Clark reserve.....nice finding the rare stuff! It's like finding a patch of morels

The Furry Gnome said...

Looks like a piece of heaven to me.

Woody Meristem said...

Wonderful botanical garden.

virginiabt28 said...

You were a lot cooler than we were at home! Very beautiful flower pictures as always. I loved the darkness of the water's edge, but couldn't help think of bugs -- maybe black fly season is still too fresh in my mind. Very lovely.