Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Bark in the Park

Yesterday we took Borga on her first real hike...an 8-mile jaunt through a local state park. There was a lot for a curious little dog to see. Canadian geese were out in flocks, picking through the grass for insects...

...or performing an early-morning cleaning.

We were all enchanted by the plants that were popping up amid the fallen leaves on the forest floor. This twisty plant...

...unfurls into a Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum). It's also known as wild lemon and fruits later in the summer. The fruit is edible, although it can be poisonous if eaten in large amounts.
The plant's rhizomes have been used for medicinal purposes.

Toad Trillium (Trillium sessile) is a pretty little plant. I like its mottled leaves and the tiny maroon flower that grows right out on top of the leaves instead of from the plant stem.

There were fields - fields! - of Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). This less-than-stellar photo shows their almost electric colors and delicate blossoms. Due to their unusual shape, Virginia Bluebells are pollinated almost exclusively by butterflies.

These little flowers are known as Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica). They re-seed rapidly and spread quickly.

There were other flowers I didn't know, like this groundcover that reminded me a little of Myrtle.

I think these are a type of anemone. I remember these from my childhood...so dainty!

More pretty leaves than I could count!

I love the names of these woodland plants, like Cutleaf Toothwort and Dutchman's Breeches. Yes...we saw these too, but I didn't get a picture of them.

Huge patches of daffodils were blooming and made quite a scene. My only complaint about daffodils is that they don't bloom for very long and then you're left with the tall green leaves, which you cannot cut down because they're gathering nutrients in order to have a successful flowering the following year. But, I've discovered that if you plant columbines within the daffodils, their sprawling leaves and shooting spikes make a nice cover.

Trees were budding out, too, like this redbud...

...and this beautiful forsythia bush.

The forsythia sprawled all the way down the hills to the water. So pretty!

This crabapple tree, too, was in full bloom.

Standing underneath a crabapple tree in full bloom is quite an experience. The branches are low so you're at eye-level with the little white blossoms and shiny maroon leaves.

The flowers have several jutting filaments, each topped with a little pollen packet.

The branches are not just supporting the flowers. I brushed against several spiderweb strands and knew that somewhere close, a small web-weaving spider was waiting for a meal. I stood very still and surveyed the area. Found him!

I just love to see the trees budding out in the spring.

Even though this winter was really mild, we had a lot of dull, grey days.

The water level at this reservoir had dropped significantly over the winter.

Still lots of pretty views, though!

Nice signs of life, like this bird's nest...

...and even a wasp nest in the same bush.

We saw more Canadian geese...

...and this red-wing blackbird even held still long enough for a quick picture.

They're beautiful when they're flying, because all you can see is a streak of black and red.

Lots of little ducks and other waterfowl dipping for fish and algae.

A beaver has been busy here!

All in all, it was a very educational trip for Borga!

These spring days just fill me with happiness. Every day I'm checking my seedlings, pruning bushes, bringing in more and more bouquets, and enjoying the 'greening up' of the yard. I believe that every good thing, even the little ones, are gifts from God, and I love seeing the beauty of His creation, especially in the spring!

I hope you're having a nice spring, too!

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