Friday, March 13, 2015

Ramble Report March 12 2015

This post was written by Hugh Nourse. The photos are by Don Hunter. You can find more of Don's photos of the ramble here

At the bottom of this post is a comparison of what we saw on our Rambles in 2014 and 2013.

Also, this important opinion piece appeared in the New York Times: Please read The Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening by Douglas Tallamy.

Thirty-one Ramblers met at the Arbor.  It was our second official ramble of the year.  We began with two poems: Lost, by David Wagoner and read by Rosemary, and Bob Ambrose recited his own poem, Heading South on a January Adventure.  Both were wonderfully received.


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

Our ramble today was across the parking lot to the International Garden.  We crossed the flower bridge and picked up the Purple Trail.  Turned left on the Orange Trail and followed it all the way to the upper parking lot. 

Our first stop was at the flower bridge to see the end of the new deer fence that has been constructed.  The horticulture staff put on an Orchid day at the Garden about two or three weeks ago.  The receipts went toward paying for the cost of the fence. 

Crossing the bridge we noted that the Florida azalea was about to bloom.  In the
Florida torreya
Rare and Endangered Plant Garden, we stopped at the Florida torreya (or stinking cedar).  It has a fungus that causes it not to reproduce in its natural location, which is the steep heads at the top of ravines along the Appalachicola River in Torreya State Park in Florida.  Cuttings have been used to start plants in gardens and other locales in the hopes of preserving it, and perhaps even getting it to produce seed.  Three such plants have been planted at this location.  Two were typical in that they did not grow upward, but spread out horizontally.  Apparently, using cuttings from horizontal limbs does not give the instruction for a leader to develop vertically.  The third plant we viewed had a great leader and was quite tall and looked more natural.  Jennifer Ceska told me that the straight Torreya was grown from seed at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  These seeds were the first obtained from Torreya.

Going down the Purple Trail, the first stop was to remind everyone about what poison ivy looks like when it has no leaves—a very fuzzy, hairy, vine stem. The
Fresh Sapsucker wells on Hop hornbeam
second was to discuss the sapsucker holes in the hop hornbeam tree.  We have talked about this before, but there were newcomers today, so we went over the story of how the sapsucker drills holes in a circle around the tree.  Insects are attracted to the sap, so the sapsucker woodpecker gets both.  It appears that in the natural areas around the Garden, the sapsuckers concentrate on hop hornbeam trees.

We crossed through the gate in the new deer fence and got to see its height—eight or nine feet.  Since it will not go completely around the Gardens, one wonders if the deer will be stopped.  Perhaps they should establish deer stands for hunters at all the openings.  The openings will include roads and the area around the location of the new Children’s Garden.  The reason for the latter is that they do not want to put up a fence and then have to take it down or move it when the Children’s Garden is constructed.  That will happen when the Garden receives enough financing from donors.  So far they have about 2.75 million of the 5 million they need.  The Children’s theatre has received funding, so it will probably be built this year in front of the Callaway Building.

Rapidly walking along the Purple Trail, we stopped to see the distinctive leaves
Tipularia (Cranefly orchid) leaf
of the crane-fly orchid.  In the winter one finds the elliptic leaf, green with a purple underside.  The leaves wither in the spring and the plant flowers in summer.  The plant is easier to see in the winter with the distinctive leaf than it is in summer when it blooms without a leaf.  The colors of the 20 to 30 pale flowers on the stem are a tan and yellow that seems to merge with the background making it hard to see.

We noted that the gate was gone from the old deer fence.  Wade, the groundskeeper, took the gates down on Monday.  Later we will see the whole fence come down.  It did not seem to be doing any good.  The deer were happily guzzling down their favorite plants in the Garden, making the curators look for plants they would not eat.  Kind of restricted the display.

Chalk Maple leaf

Two trees that keep their leaves all winter are the beech tree and the chalk maple.  Both were present
Beech leaves
after we passed through the gate.  The chalk maple is thought of as a sign of more basic soil.  A layer of amphibolite running under this location provides more calcium than can be found in other areas, which is why there are so many chalk maples in this location.

The next two trees we stopped for were the Musclewood and the Hop hornbeam.  As they stand together here we can see their differences easily.  The musclewood bark looks sinewy, like muscles, whereas the Hop hornbeam has bark that looks like a cat scratched it. (We got that description from Elaine Nash).

Around the corner is the dam that holds back the creek along the Orange Trail
The Beaver Pond
making a wetland here.  Originally, this was a beaver dam made of  branches and twigs.  The University’s hog farm used to be at the headwaters of the creek, polluting the water. When the beavers left, a dam of cement bags was put in place to keep the wetland there to purify the water coming down the creek before entering the Oconee River.  Beavers abandon their ponds after a number of years and do not return for another 50 to 100 years.

Beside the beaver pond was another interesting tree, the Winged elm.  We looked up to see the wings on branches, but could not see them on the lowest branches. Emily pointed out wings higher up that everyone could see.

Someone called our attention to a junk pile on the ridge. He had explored it earlier and found a dated bottle in the pile.  In the west these bottles are collectors items, but he was concerned that it was a public site and did not remove it.  We usually do not see these heaps on the top of the ridge because they are hidden by tree foliage.

Rue Anemone
As we left the wetland and started up along the creek, flowers began to appear.  Surprisingly, the first find was a tiny rue anemone.  I did not see it yesterday, but Andi says she saw it.  They must have just come in the last few days.  They are very small right now with mostly only one flower.  Later they will have three flowers and be more robust.  They will last a long time during the spring.

The slope at the bend in the creek just below the bridge to the Flower Garden was magnificent.  Even though the Bloodroot blooms were still closed up from overnight, they were all over the slope.  In the afternoon when they are fully open  they make an even greater display.  The hepaticas were still in bloom, filling out the show.

Dooryard violet
Next by the bridge to the Flower Garden someone spotted a common blue violet.  We noted just a little further along the leaves of Wild ginger (Hexastylis arifolia).

Round-lobed Hepatica
Along the narrow walk beside the creek a number of Hepaticas were blooming.  Martha exclaimed over a beautiful moss near the Hepatica.  Earlier, she had noted moss with many sporophytes.  At the rock beside the creek merging from the right was one small Yellowroot beginning to leaf out.

After that we found more Bloodroot and Rue anemone.  We were reminded that the Rue anemone will last a long time and get bigger.  The Hepatica and Bloodroot will not last as long.  You would think that the early flowers might have trouble being pollinated before the insect population gets going. That is right. Their defense is to be self-pollinating.

Wild Geranium
All along the trail we were seeing Geranium leaves.  Some were where flags for a research project were set;  others were everywhere along the trail.

Mayapple just emerging
Mayapple leaves were poking out of the ground.  Although native, Mayapples are aggressive and expand easily.  Carol and I planted
Mayapple expanding
some in our garden once.  It must not have been compatible soil because they did not spread much.  On the other hand, we sold the house and left.  I have no idea what has happened since.

Crossing the Orange Trail creek, we came to the seep on the left. The foliage of a number of Atamasco lilies was showing.  We will have to keep track of them.  Nearby was a Buckeye sprout with new leaves.

We usually see many Rue anemones next to a fallen log just a little further along.  I could not see any, but Jackie found a huge number of very tiny blooms just starting.

Last not least, someone found an Ebony spleenwort.

At the end of the trail in the upper parking lot we ended the ramble.  Some retired to Donderos for refreshments.

Hugh Nourse

Common Name
Scientific Name
Florida azalea
Rhododendron austrinum
Buds swollen
Florida torreya
Torreya taxifolia

Poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans

Hop hornbeam
Ostrya virginiana

Crane-fly orchid
Tipularia discolor

Chalk maple
Acer leucoderme
Retaining leaves
American beech
Fagus grandifolia

Carpinus caroliniana

Winged elm
Ulmus alata

Rue anemone
Thalictrum thalictroides
Sanguinaria canadensis
Round lobed hepatica
Anemone americana
Common blue violet
Viola sororia
Heartleaf ginger
Hexastylis arifolia

Xanthorhiza simplicissima

Wild geranium
Geranium maculatum
Podohyllum peltatum
Atamasco lily
Zephyranthes atamasco

Aesculus sp.

Ebony spleenwort
Asplenium platyneuron

Last year at this time (March 13, 2014) we saw the following wildflowers in bloom (we walked over to the power line right-of-way last year):
Common Name
Scientific name
Golden Ragwort
Packera aurea
Chattahoochee Trillium
Trillium decipiens
Small Bluet
Hedyotis pusilla?
Quaker Ladies
Hedyotis caerula
Field Pansy
Viola rafinesquii
Dooryard Violet
Viola sororia
Hoary Wintercress
Cardamine hirsuta
Lamium amplexicaule
Purple Deadnettle
Lamium purpureum
Tradescantia sp.
Green and Gold
Chrysogonum virginianum
Service Berry
Amelanchier canadensis
Vaccinium sp.

Two years ago (March 7, 2013) we walked the Purple and Orange trail, just as we did today. We saw pretty much the same plants that we saw today: Hepatica (Anemone americana), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Rue anemone (Thalicrum thalictroides), Dooryard violet (Viola sororia) and the leaves, but no flowers, of Mayapple and Wild geranium were appearing


  1. Dale, I like the historical look-back at what we were seeing at the same time in past years. It gives perspective to how blooming times can vary from year to year. I was talking with Joey as I was leaving the Visitor Center yesterday and he, too, remembers seeing the Virginia bluebells in the DNFG in mid to late February last year and here, in the middle of March this year, we have seen only foliage. Since we didn't visit the DNFG yesterday I don't know if the bluebells are blooming or not.

  2. Hello out there . . . I have missed everybody. I can't believe the flowers are blooming without me. It helps my morale to have the Ramble Report and pictures so that I know what you saw. Thank you for taking the time to record it all. I also like the comparison between what's blooming now and what we saw this time last year and the year before. Incidentally, I thought I had lost my own meager clump of Rue Anemones, but I saw the first one two days ago. It's like an alarm clock went off. They just seem to have popped up over night!

  3. Thank you for the wonderful report. I was able to follow along step by step. As we are waiting for some of the natives to blossom, I am waiting for the birth of my grand daughter, any day now.


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