A museum of Pennsylvania native plants, Bowmans Hill Wildflower Preserve is the crowd pleaser on this late April day! They will educate you, wow you and inspire you to love the real Pennsylvania, the one that has been here for millennia, with a thoughtfully curated and authentic display of naturally occurring plants that extends acres upon acres into the Preserve, giving you the opportunity to get a great hike in and see the true natural beauty of Pennsylvania, the American East coast, and the piedmont geological province.
Enjoy this Trillium Grandiflorum. Bowmans Hill will provide you with a great colorful trail map and will also give you a blooming pamphlet that tells you what is blooming when and where.
Every day they are open there is a guided Wildflower/nature walk at 2:00 pm and every one is different. You may see and hear a bird tweeting you never heard before or see a new insect, moth or butterfly and experience a different plant and always meet and befriend new people. Isabelle is enjoying this amazing Dogwood blooming while resting on the stone WPA built bridge on the Preserve.
Yes, Phlox blooming in this peaceful Springtime woodland setting.
This is the Marsh Marigold trail. All of the trails are clearly marked and have a theme, and are exceptionally enchanting. One trip here we befriended an 89 year old woman from western Pennsylvania and we walked the trails with her, and held her arm for just a few spots. She knew all of the plants and was so happy to see them. She told us that all of these plants grew in her hometown and around her house, but over the years she saw less and less of them, some of them disappearing altogether. That day she was overjoyed to see them the way they were here again and It filled her heart with happiness. We looked at Trout Lily, Bloodroot, Trillium and Bluebells.
This is the Mill Race trail. It has been greatly improved by the Preserve and is astonishing to see. It is for the hiker however, because of its length and scope.
The Mertensia virginica, the Virginia Bluebell. Our all-time favorite plant well represented at the Preserve.
The Azalea trail. Rhododendron periclymenoides blooming away!
The trails are welcoming, beautiful and well maintained. What you get is an enchanting experience.
More of the Mill Race trail.
If you love what you see and are ensconced in the beauty of the place and want to see this everyday as you look out your window morning noon and night, Bowmans Hill Wildflower Preserve can make that happen for you. They sell all of the plants on the Preserve at their on-site nursery for a very reasonable price just so you can have them in your yard!!
When we were here on Saturday, April 29th, 2017, we did not buy any plants, but we had an amazing afternoon. We have already filled our yards with native plants. The Preserve was filled with folks buying plants and viewing the landscape. We thought about our friend from Western Pennsylvania who we met about 5 years ago here. Her story was not unique, we have heard this same one over and over, less and less of the plants appearing. To see the enthusiasm on this fine spring Saturday is a little bit encouraging!
If you live in Pennsylvania and you really want to know what Pennsylvania looks like, plant native Pennsylvania plants in your yard, and the sense of place you will be rewarded with will be very satisfying. And of course the can be said for New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Georgia…well you get the picture! Happy Spring 2017!
What a better way to spend the July 4th weekend than down by the water. The old canoe in the basement was dragged out and strapped onto the Subaru station wagon and brought down to the only freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania. This is what Indian creek, our Morris park creek drains into. Here is Isabelle canoeing on Darby Creek.
We also dusted off the 1959 Chevrolet Impala sitting in the driveway and headed for the Schuylkill River in West Fairmount Park.
Before cruising the Belmont Plateau we settled in for a leisurely park and walked along the river. Here we discovered a nice patch of Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) just below the Strawberry Mansion Bridge.
Staghorn Sumac and the Tree of heaven, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
The picture above may seem pretty straightforward but is actually an astonishing representation of two different species altogether. To the upper right is the native Staghorn Sumac. The lower left is the non-native invasive Tree-of -Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). They both look so similar at first glance and are growing right next to each other, with pinnately compound leaves about the same size with reddish leaf stems. To the untrained eye these two trees look almost identical. We bring this up because there are just a few Staghorn sumac specimens growing in our area of scope in Morris Park, and they are surrounded by Ailanthus. Knowing the differences is helpful when we undertake our yearly maintenance effort at pulling the hundreds of Ailanthus seedlings up.
The leaflets of the Staghorn sumac are dentate, with toothlike edges, while the Ailanthus leaflets are smooth. The young twigs of the Staghorn sumac are densely hairy, a give-away characteristic of this large shrub or small tree, as well as the origin of its common name. The dense hairs along the new growth resembles that of the antlers of a young male deer. The Staghorn sumac has incredible ornamental value. Its reddish-brown seedpods and lush pinnately compound leaves and shrub status make it a great back-round plant. Isabelle’s brother has one in his back yard in the suburbs of Paris, France. Every year he prunes it so it has a nice shape.
On July 4th itself we chose the Wissahickon to spend the afternoon walking Keeba, only 15 minutes drive from Morris Park. Here we explore a magnificent patch of the native wildflower Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). This one tops the list of our favorite flowers. We look forward to seeing them flower every summer. We were careful to make sure Keeba did not prance about in this patch of very delicate plants. The blue-green stems are very fragile.
The Tulip poplars in The Wissahickon are memorable.
THE SANGUINE ROOT TAKES A RELAXING TRIP TO OUR NEIGHBORING DELAWARE HOPING TO SEE FLOWERS AND BIRDS AT THE MOUTH OF THE DELAWARE RIVER.
We had never seen one of these before. Not even in cultivation. However we knew what it was right away and the brakes were applied. (Bombay Hook is so vast that it is a road trip inside the sanctuary) Questions: How come this native Iris is not growing everywhere as an ornamental, while the non-native exotic ones are? How did this get passed by? Why isn’t this Iris taught in school? Why is this not the Delaware State flower instead of the native-to-China Prunus persica, the peach blossom?
What a great discovery, a wild native Iris, growing in its ecosystem.
Finding the native Sweetbay magnolia growing in the wild is also a novel sight. This one blooms in the late afternoon and evening when it fills the air with an enchanting aroma.
In a wooded area we saw this great patch of Jack-in-the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) growing among its native woodland neighbors, the Enchanter’s nightshade (Circaea lutetiana) and the Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).
The woodland areas were full of ferns and lush herbaceous plants, however we were being bitten up by black flies. Also, there was an emphasis on the birds that could be viewed at this National Wildlife location and most of the other visitors at Bombay Hook were preoccupied with the birds. We decided to see if we could view some of the birds that were getting so much attention.
This is the place to view birds and we were very pleased at the variety of them. Off in the distance is the Delaware Bay. We spotted this Egret.
It was looking for an evening meal.
It dipped into the water for a fish.
After consuming the meal, the Egret was approached by what we believe to be a male Red-Winged Blackbird.
The Red- Winged Blackbird circled over the Egret and the Egret rose out of the water and opened up its broad wings and flew about 100 feet.
What a show! After it landed, it wandered into the tall marsh grasses and settled in.
Bombay Hook provides every amenity for bird viewing, including built in telescopes, elevated structures, and signage. For beginners like us, these proved very helpful.
Driving north through the backroads, we spotted something that at first glance looked like an odd chicken. Oh, no, that would be a Turkey Vulture.
Definitely not a chicken.
This thing loomed in the back-round all day. Yeah, that would be the Salem Nuclear plant, in New Jersey. It has the same reactor core as the now melted down Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, A General-Electric Mark I. This one is puffing away, running all those big flat-screened tvs, among the many other amenities of modern life.
So this is what it has come to. Just like at the Fukushima plant, all of the radioactive waste is sitting in a pool of water beside the plant, with nowhere to go and a half-life of 10,000 years. If it has no where to go now, it will most likely have no where to go in 200 years or 2000 years. So by running this plant, there is the assumption that there will be a stable technologically advanced society that will be able to watch over this waste made 100 years ago, 200 years ago, 2000 years ago, 5000 years ago. That is quite a gamble to take, not just on future generations of humans, but all of the other species we live amidst. Since when has there been a stable human society that has lasted at least 500 years? With nuclear technology so heavily guarded, could it survive the usual turmoil of humanity over the long haul?
Overly optimistic starry-eyed apologists of the nuclear industry imagine that humans will be able to use this waste for something productive. There will be fusion reactors and micro-reactors and all sorts of nifty things going on. None of these pie-in-the sky justifications for nuclear power address the long-term issue. As if there is an arrogance in the air that is so enamored with nuclear power and a rosy belief in a peaceful global society that is evermore technologically advanced and politically sophisticated that will last for at least 10,000 years, managing nuclear waste and the by-products of the nuclear industry and nuclear warheads combined.
If there ever is a time to be philosophical or perhaps moralistic about something, that time is 1000 years from now. Thats right, The Staff of the Sanguine Root is not being righteous or overly moralistic here, shaking our fingers at all of the sinners among us. It is true we do not have a television, but that is no reason to be righteous and indignant.
We try to see the picture over the years, the long term, the bigger picture, the long- haul. A species-specific perspective. The Egret we saw today, catching its evening fish and having an encounter with the Red-winged Blackbird, and then retiring to the Marsh grasses for the evening says it all. That species has been doing the same thing for many thousands and millions of years. Try to imagine Delaware 40,000 years ago. What species were there? What did they do? How did they live? Anyone have any ideas? Please chime in. While the exact locations of the salt marshes may have been different, most likely there were Egrets and Red-Winged Blackbirds, Sweet-bay Magnolias, Blue-flag Irises and Red Maples.
Here, these species are still alive.
What about our species? We have made it complicated for ourselves and every species around us, haven’t we? Never before, in the billions of years of Earth’s history has uranium been refined to the extent that it has. In less than 70 years! Nor has the cocktail of carcinogenic and radioactive blend of materials carefully extracted from the earth, and manipulated and exposed in a variety of industrial processes have ever seen the light of day. Exactly what geological layer are humans creating? How many species will become extinct as a result? Exactly why is this happening, and what can be done about it? Just remember, what will 100 years from now be like? If that isn’t convincing, what about 500 years?
Are our societies really that stable? Just look around. How can Nuclear anything be a viable resource for anything period. Who are we kidding? Its 10,000+ years of radioactivity. Hot particles for everyone all the time- all we need is one hot particle in our lung. Fukushima is blowing them out in a hot wind.