We visit this tree every year because it has one large branch that drops down from the tall tree close to the paved trail just north of Centennial Lake in West Park. The significance of this tree is that the branch contains the blooming tulip shaped flowers of the Tulip Poplar which are rarely seen because the tree grows very tall. We hope that this branch will not be cut down because it is so close to the trail. This would be a great educational tree to show people what a tulip poplar flower looks like!
Due to the logistical complications SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic, our yearly visit in 2020 was canceled and 2021 was much later than usual. Adjusting my photographic aspirations accordingly, I sought to portray a Trillium that visually summed up our altered reality. Many great changes have occurred in our absence! The Lancaster Conservancy has done some amazing work bringing the wildflower preserve into the future.
The road leading to the preserve has been improved greatly and a fine parking area has been added in a location that was used for parking but was somewhat chaotic. Now it is lined with neat fencing and there is a signage kiosk explaining the preserve and providing a map. I photographed the map on my phone to be used to navigate the preserve. The road that used to lead along the railroad tracks to the trail head has been turned into a trail itself which is an amazing transformation because it is now pleasant to walk along the hillside without worrying about cars driving by.
The old parking area in front of the old trail head was a chaotic mess for years. It was very awkward to park there and it was visually problematic. The new trail adds a whole new dimension to enjoying the preserve. Walking along the railroad tracks to the left is the hillside covered with Mertensia and there is a wonderful display of Columbine on a rocky outcrop just before the original trail head. No more crazy piling of automobiles at the bottom of the original trail head! We look forward to seeing what the Conservancy does with that area there is so much potential!
The original trail is pretty much as it was minus the Porta potty which has been located next to the parking lot. (improvement) I did notice that there was a lot of garlic mustard removal that had taken place over the years because there was very little noticeable on the trail itself. It didn’t seem as if there was less stomping on the plants than in years past although there was some spots where over eager photographers would stomp on the flowers in order to get a photograph of a flower further up the hill side. It would be nice to figure out a way to discourage this behavior. A maidenhair fern that had been stomped on many years ago and was not to be found in the years past after the initial stomping was found albeit in a diminutive state. Hopefully it will come back fully! Every year we have looked for this fern without any luck until now. Isabelle made photos using a Lumix LX 7 and I used a Lumix DMZ-FZ200 and an IPhone XR.
The Lancaster Conservancy is doing a great job in the preservation of Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve!
A few years back we collected Columbine seeds in a zip lock bag and tossed them about the backyard Philadelphia rowhouse garden, the crevices of the concrete alleyway and about the local urban landscape.
Having observed Columbine for sometime we have noticed that it likes to grow in rocky areas. Out of cracks. In Marianna Florida, we saw it growing out of a limestone outcrop, signaling its affinity with alkaline environments. Its spindly stems and compact leaves suggests a degree of drought tolerance as well. All of these things indicate that Aquilegiacanadensis is well suited for urban environments.
This is perfect for our situation where we are trying to create a hummingbird friendly environment that is not dependent on feeders. The plants are now growing and thriving in the alley and have adapted well to the concrete crevasses and nooks. The Columbine also provides beauty to the landscape. Complementing the Hummingbird friendly Columbine in our block is the Coral honeysuckle Lonicerasempervirens (major wheeler) and the straight species Campsisradicans, the trumpet vine.
Lastly, it is notable how majestically the red flowers contrast with the grey concrete blocks of West Philly!