Around ten folks met at the arbor this morning for the weekly Ramble, led this week by Andie Bisceglia, Director of Children's Programs at the Gardens. We left the arbor and headed down to the White Trail, then to the Blue Trail, took the access road to the right at the Blue Trail gate, then right on to the Green Trail back to the power line clearing and home to the parking lot. The weather was overcast, with a cool temps and a nice steady breeze during most of the walk. The rain that was supposed to move in by 10:00 am stayed to the south. It was as comfortable a walk as you could want for the middle of August.
We began with the reading, provided by Andie, from Rachel Carson's "A Sense of Wonder", © 1956, pp 42-45. .
A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful an awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.
If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in. Parents often have a sense of inadequacy when confronted on the one hand with the eager, sensitive and of a child and on the other with a world of complex physical nature, inhabited by a life so various and unfamiliar that is seems hopeless to reduce it to order and knowledge. In a mood of self-defeat, they exclaim, “How can I possibly teach my child about nature—why, I don’t even know one bird from another!”
I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow.
After the reading, we made our way down the hill and to the White Trail. At the power line clearing, we played a game. We divided into groups of two and, taking turns, one partner was blindfolded and led to a tree by the other partner, where the blindfolded partner explored the tree with their hands, sensing bark, moss, lichens, size, etc, and was asked what type of tree it was. The blindfolded partner was then walked back to the trail and, after the blindfold was removed, tried to identify the tree they were led to, based on their observations. It was an interesting experience.
We then headed out on the White Trail and quickly saw St. Andrew's Cross (Hypericum hypericoides) at the edge of the power line. Nearby, and also at the edge of the power line clearing, Gary pointed out a white Clematis growing in the lower boughs of a large tree. It appears to be a Yam-Leafed Virgin's Bower (Clematis terniflora). From there, we took the White Trail to the BlueTrail, where we immediately saw a Chantrelle (Cantharellus cibarius) mushroom (Surprise!). As we rambled along the Blue Trail we came across a small American Beech tree with a limb nearly completely covered with the Beech Blight Aphid (Grylloprociphilus imbricator) (This is the second time this summer we have observed these aphids on an American Beech tree). Also observed on the ground below the infested limb were deposits of sooty mold caused by the fungus Scorias spongiosa built up below the colonies of aphids and growing on the copious amounts of honeydew the insects exuded.
A little further down the trail, Andie pointed out terraces, most likely remnants of cotton farming or other agricultural practices. Also noted was a "wolf" oak, a large oak tree with many limbs growing relatively close to the ground, something only seen on trees that grew out in the open. The "wolf" descriptor is also given to some pines that also have many lower limbs and is probably a shortened form of "lone wolf" since the trees that display this characteristic are generally solitary specimens, i.e., lone wolves. Andie referenced Tom Wessel's "Reading the Forested Landscape".
As we moved further down the trail, we saw large numbers of Elephant's Foot (Elephantopus tomentosus), also known as Devil's Grandmother, a pretty little purple Aster. Nearby Angie noticed a Crane Fly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) near the base of a large oak tree. It has been a good year for Crane Fly Orchids at the Bot Gardens. As we worked our way back out into one of the clearings, we observed the White or Virginia Crownbeard (Verbesina virginica).blooming. This is one of the two species of Wingstems that are found along the trails. Nearby was a stand of what looks like Blunt Leaf Senna or Coffee Weed (Senna obtusifolia), a common, introduced weed and usually found in abundance in tilled gardens in the southeast. At this point the Ramble turned right up the access road at the Blue Trail gate, where we quickly found some bright yellow green boletes, maybe Ornate Stalked Bolete (Boletus ornatipes). A little further down the road we saw a small cluster of Cinnabar-Red Chantrelles (Cantharelles cinnabarinus), another of the edible chantrelles. Right before the turn on to the Green Trail the tiny but beautiful Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata) was noticed and pointed out. It was seen at several other locations further along the trail. After turning on to the Green Trail the very striking Elegant Stinkhorn mushroom (Mutinus elegans) was seen emerging from the leaf litter. It is bright orange, with a white skirt and tapers to a hollow point. And it does stink. The last find of the day was a lone Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus) then most folks headed up to Dondero's for the after-Ramble refreshments and conversation. Thanks Andie for very ably stepping in and leading a great walk.
Here is the link to Don's Facebook page with his great photos of some of the things observed today: Don's Facebook photos.
Summary of observed species:
St. Andrew's Cross (Hypericum hypericoides)
Yam-Leafed Virgin's Bower (Clematis terniflora)
Chantrelle (Cantharellus cibarius)
Beech Blight Aphid (Grylloprociphilus imbricator)
Elephant's Foot AKA Devil's Grandmother (Elephantopus tomentosus)
Crane Fly Orchid (Tipularia discolor)
White or Virginia Crownbeard (Verbesina virginica)
Blunt Leaf Senna AKA Coffee Weed (Senna obtusifolia)
Ornate Stalked Bolete (Boletus ornatipes)
Cinnabar-Red Chantrelle (Cantharelles cinnabarinus)
Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata)
Elegant Stinkhorn mushroom (Mutinus elegans)
Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)