Friday, July 22, 2011

A Day in Nature

That's how I wanted to spend my birthday on Wednesday.
Michael and Anna took me on a hike at High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary, a Mass Audubon property about 45 minutes from home.  When we finally made it to the ledges, our efforts were rewarded by a beautiful (if somewhat hazy) panoramic view of the Deerfield River Valley.  Anna was appropriately cautious of the edge, but did manage to relax at last.
Michael didn't think he'd make the blog, but here he is with his new hiking shoes!
I'm always interested in seeing plants and plant communities, and although we were past orchid season (no blooms in the "Orchid Swamp"), the lowbush blueberries were lush and fruit was ripening, and we saw Indian Pipes - always a thrill.  They seem more like a fungus than a plant since they don't have chlorophyll, but they are actually in the same family as Rhododendrons, and their flowers provide nectar for bees, who in turn pollinate the flowers so they can produce seeds.
The highlight of the hike was the vernal pool.  Peepers were hopping everywhere - and they are so unbelievably tiny and cute!
We also stopped in Shelburne Falls for a late lunch and a stroll over the Bridge of Flowers, an old, abandoned trolley bridge that someone back in 1926 had the foresight to convert into a linear garden over the river.
I found a couple new plants of interest.  Crocosmia, which depending on the nursery catalog you read, may or may not grow in Zone 5.  That's pushing it anyway.  Although we're officially Zone 5, our elevation and the wind patterns make our little farm seem more like Zone 4b.  The Crocosmia is so big and tropical, it's definitely worth a try:
I was also loving the Astrantia.  I think it would look beautiful next to some hostas, much in the way astilbe does:
And at the end of my day in nature, I found that Anna, my little fiber artist, had been hard at work on a new felting project just for my birthday!  Isn't he adorable?

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