Archive for April, 2012

A WORLD OF MAYAPPLES: SPRINGTIME IN THE WOODS OF ROXBOROUGH

Monday, April 30th, 2012

In our travels through the city the past few weeks, Mayapples have dominated the herbaceous layer of the forest-scape, with their pretty leaves and stunning waxy blooms.  Today we are going to feature a few plants we found associated with the Mayapples, in two locations, within a mile apart in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia.

Trillium grandiflorum, Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Trillium grandiflorum, Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Schuylkill Center has a great woods, full of surprises.  They also had a  native plant sale, where we purchased a Hearts-A-Bustin’ Strawberry bush, the Euonymus  americana for our yard.  We then went for a walk on the grounds, and we went to Penns Acres, a section of woods enclosed in deer fencing to protect the plants from browsing. Thats where we saw this aging Trillium grandiflorum pictured above.  When the flower gets older, it turns pink.

Podophyllum peltatum, Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Podophyllum peltatum, Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This is the world of the Mayapple!

Dodecatheon meadia, Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dodecatheon meadia, Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dodecatheon meadia

Finding the Shooting Star blooming was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.  The only one we had ever seen was the two specimens in our yard which are also currently in bloom.

Dodecatheon meadia, Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dodecatheon meadia, Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The flower is like a chandelier or a fountain. Available in local native plant nurseries and plant sales.

Dodecatheon meadia, Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dodecatheon meadia, Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

For the flower enthusiast, this place has everything, right here in the city as well.  The friendly staff gave us a trail map that helped us to find the trails that  led off the beaten paths, deep into the woods. We saw Dogwoods flowering all over, with Bluebells, patches of Mayapple and Trillium, Redbud trees, Jack-in-the Pulpit, and Black and Blue cohosh.

Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We had never seen this Sessile Trillium before in the City of Philadelphia. We much admired these specimens, but wondered about their origins. Could they have been introduced, or are they just growing naturally?

Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Now, off to the Wissahickon!

Tiarella cordifolia, Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tiarella cordifolia, Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We found the Foamflower near Bells Mill Road.

Aquilegia canadensis, Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Aquilegia canadensis, Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

And then a whole colony of Columbine!  We were so enchanted with the wildflowers, we got lost!  We were on some obscure trails we had never been on before and lost our way. In every direction were tall Tulip Poplars. We walked for over an hour in nothing but deep forest, full of Spicebush, Bloodroot, Mayapple, Sensitive and Christmas fern, and we even found a blooming Pinxter Azalea!

Aquilegia canadensis, Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Aquilegia canadensis, Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

At one point we were so lost we started to worry about how to get back, and we passed a charming ravine, and we spotted blue specks below us and they caught our eyes, and we decided to investigate.

Mertensia virginica, Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mertensia virginica, Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Bluebells!

Aquilegia canadensis, Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Aquilegia canadensis, Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

More Columbine, with a dark maroon color, blooming alongside the  bluebells in a protected, obscure ravine.

Mertensia virginica, Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mertensia virginica, Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We did eventually find the trail that led us back out of the forest.  What a great bunch of flowers to find growing in the forests of Roxborough!

MAYAPPLES AND DOGWOOD BLOOM IN WEST FAIRMOUNT PARK

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

One of the most spectacular displays of Mayapples we have ever seen is in West Fairmount Park, in the woods just north of the Belmont Plateau.

Mayapple flowering, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

Mayapple flowering, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

We watched them emerge from the earth, and have waited for them to bloom in the past few weeks as they unfurled their leaves, and revealed their blooming capacities. The Mayapples with a single stem will not bloom and the ones with two stems that diverge in a v shape will bloom.  The  blooms are under the umbrella shaped leaves and can be missed. The best displays in West park are on hillsides that rise up on a side of the trails, so if you turn towards the hillside in the right light, you will see a beautiful and stunning array of waxy white flowers about two inches across glowing beneath the  fresh green umbrellas.

If Philadelphia were to have a city flower, the Mayapple would be solid nominee.

 

 

Isabelle with Dogwood bloom, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

Isabelle with Dogwood bloom, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

Dogwood flowering, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

Dogwood flowering, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

 

THE SCHUYLKILL CENTER BLOOMS

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

THE SANGUINE ROOT VISITS THE SCHUYLKILL CENTER FOR ENVRONMENTAL EDUCATION

Trillium grandiflorum, Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education

Trillium grandiflorum, Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education

 

We sat down on the narrow trail to admire the Phlox and the bluebells in the early afternoon sunlight. Up the south facing hill we could see Trillium grandiflorum , Spring Beauty and Mayapple blooming away, their white and pink flowers glowing in the precious spring light. The Beech, Oak, Sycamore and Maples had not fully leafed out yet, creating a magnificent filtered light, a bathing light, a light the flowers soaked up, ripening their delicate petals until they filled to maturity until the last hour of total vibrance, the height of their full bloom.

To see these flowers at their peak is to see Spring, our recognition of this moment is our initiation into the rite of our personal passage into the season, with each flower we perceive, our sense of spring is that much more matured, we appreciate Spring and we begin to understand it .  Once we have reached the awareness of Spring and its splendid beauty, it is ever so easy to see the decline: even the slightest wilt of the flowers is ours to behold, The Trilliums get an edge of brown around the edges, the bluebells lose their bluest of flowers to the sky ultimately, and we are left with our desire to see the newest and freshest bloom.

Spring is tulmultuous. Even seeing flowers we never got to see bloom withering away is unsettling; we were not there, Spring is moving too fast-its as if our own aspirations become tied to the blooms-What if we will never experience the true Spring, the Spring of all the flowers, the one Spring that will give us all that we need to be completely connected to the spring.

Spring will do that to us- an awakening that is vigorous and fresh, yet so full of uncertainties. There is something to be said for a Spring break.

Stop and see the flowers!

Your moment to become part of Spring is when you see the blooms and feel the air and recognize that a new time is here.

 

We were pleased to see that the invasive Garlic mustard had been removed from the area.  Last year it was a disturbing presence among the trilliums and the bluebells. We found out that the 3rd saturday of every month is an invasive removal workday! What a great way to be a part of spring; volunteer your time doing environmental restoration in your local natural area! Now that the Garlic mustard has been removed for this year, the acorns can germinate, and the Beeches, Oaks, Maples and Sycamores can become the seedlings for the next generation of forest. This will be the forest that will maintain the biodiversity we have seen today.  With all of the invasive species problems in the world today, the forests need us to come out and give a hand.  It was truly heart-warming for us to see that the schuylkill environmental education center is making a concerted effort to restore their magnificent forest. We had a magical walk through the enchanting Ravine loop, and we would love to come out one day when we can and volunteer and to tell our own story of Morris Park.