Saturday, May 4, 2024

Roadside Rock Garden Re-blooms!

Still suffering the remnants of a lingering cold and also a bit weary from overexertion on previous days, I was planning to lie low today, resting my weary bones on the couch, a cat close at hand (if he so deigned).  But a Facebook Memory showed up on my timeline, displaying the most glorious explosion of Early Saxifrage on the cliffs along Spier Falls Road on this date just a year ago.  Oh man, I can't miss this! And those cliffs are just an easy drive away!  Gotta GO! 

And I am so glad I did!  Singly, the flower of Early Saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis) is hardly showy, just a wee little thing, plain white.  But when they bloom together by the thousands, they do put on quite a splendid show.

I was a bit worried about what I'd find, remembering how road crews had scraped the roadside rocks bare of all vegetation last summer.  And yes, as I approached the cliffs across from the Spier Falls Dam, I could see how many of the rocks closest to the road still bore the scars of that abuse. But masses of white flowers still persisted where they grew beyond reach of the scrapers.

High up on the craggy ledges, clouds of white looked like drifting mist against the dark spring-watered rocks, the flowers sprouting in masses out of velvety clumps of bright-green moss.

White disks of rock-clinging lichens echoed the white of the flowers.

Closer to the edge of the road, I could better admire the daintiness of the blooms.

This pair of blooms had found the perfect foil to show off their beauty: a wall of dark rock behind, a cushion of emerald green moss at their feet.

The flowers certainly do prefer to grow from cushions of moss. The moss holds the dampness from constantly dripping springs, providing a constant source of moisture and soil atop rocks that would  otherwise be exposed and bare. The various textures and colors of the mosses indicate more than one species thrives here.  I know that much of this clump is made up of a moss that craves constant wetting.  Spring Apple Moss is its name (Philonotis fontana), the "spring" part of its name indicating its preferred habitat, and the "apple" part suggested by the small round apple shape of its spore capsules.

Here's another lovely mix of mosses, a fine-leaved species called Common Apple Moss (Bartramia pomiformis), and a larger-leaved species called Marsh Cardinal Moss (Ptychostomum pseudotriquetrum).

I was surprised to find one of the apple-shaped spore capsules still persisting within the tangled leaves of the Common Apple Moss.

On my way home, I stopped off at a splashing spring to sip from its clear cold water and was delighted to see many clumps of this charming little flower called Azure Bluets (Houstonia caerulea) blooming in the sunlit patches nearby.

A small, white-blossomed tree hung its branches over a bank, so I could detect the reddish bark, the flower clusters marching in a row along the twigs, and each twig sporting a terminal cluster of tapering serrated leaves, all features that distinguish the species called Fire Cherry (Prunus pensylvanica).

I climbed just a bit up a trail to visit a patch of Foamflower (Tiarella stolonifera) that I knew to grow there. I will be sure to return in a few days to see how these opening buds have yielded the lacy, lovely white flowers of this native wildflower. The leaves, emerald green marked with reddish mottling, were already as lovely as they will be.

(Here's what this Foamflower patch will look like when in full bloom: photo below.  Certainly worth the return to witness such starry beauty!)

Just across the road, a well-trodden path led down through a woods toward the banks of the Hudson River.  That Facebook Memory from a year ago had indicated I might find some Painted Trilliums (Trillium undulatum) blooming there now.  And wouldn't you know?  This was my lucky day!


Uta Zickfeld said...

Oh I miss my Conn. wild garden. Live in Tenn. now and can't get out as much. I so enjoy your pictures, they are soothing to me.

The Furry Gnome said...

You know just where to go looking for these things!