Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ramble Report May 7 2015

Today's post was written by Hugh Nourse. Don Hunter's album of ramble photos is here.

Today 23 ramblers met at the Arbor at 8:30AM, where Rosemary read a discussion of the colors yellow and green.

Today's reading: Rosemary contributed a poem called Yellow; you can hear the author, Ken Nordine, reading it himself here

Today's route: Our route today was through the International Garden to the Purple Trail.  Down the Purple Trail to the Orange Trail.  Left on the Orange Trail to the Heath Bluff.  The return was up the Orange Trail to the bridge to the Flower Garden, and through the Gardens to the Visitor Center.

The first stop was the American South Garden where we marveled at the variety of colors
A purple spiderwort
exhibited by the Virginia spiderwort (pink, purple, blue, and white). The yellow coreopsis a provided a nice contrast to these colors.  Lyre leaf sage that we saw blooming two weeks ago had finished blooming.  The wild white indigo was still hanging on.

After crossing the Flower Bridge we stopped at the bottle brush buckeye which had not advanced beyond where it was two weeks ago.  Still just in bud.  In the Asian section of the Garden we saw the Korean dogwood in full bloom.  A
Korean dogwood
little farther on was a Deutzia cultivar.  That was interesting because  a Deutzia Carol and I saw last week along a nature trail in Montreat, NC had escaped from cultivation.

In the American Indian Garden we noticed that the black cohosh was beginning to extend its top stem which later will bear a raceme of white flowers.  Nearby was a patch of mayapples that had finished blooming and sported “apples.”

Mountain Laurel on the Heath Bluff trail   
Mountain Laurel blossoms  
Rattlesnake weed

Maple leaf viburnum
Sweet Shrub

We rushed along the the Purple Trail to get to the primary goal today, the Heath Bluff.  We discussed the reason for its different flora.  The bluff is rocky, steep, facing west, and gets extra light because of the steepness of the cliff.  The soil is extremely acidic.  As a result the community of the bluff includes lots of mountain laurel  and rattlesnake weed.  With everyone searching we found several more unusual plants for the Piedmont:  maple leaf viburnum, galax, and sweet shrub.  Everyone was impressed by the extent of the mountain laurel.  We scrambled along the top of the bluff for the entire extent of the mountain laurel presence. What a smashing display!  We could tell that many of the flowers had been visited by pollinators because their anthers had sprung up from the sides of the petals to cover the pollinators with pollen.

We climbed to the top of the bluff where some mysterious piles of rocks, maybe 30 in number, are arranged in a circle.  Mark Williams, Anne Shenk’s husband, an archeologist, believes these might represent an Indian ceremonial site of some kind.  The rock jutting into the river might have been a marker along the river for this site.  Lance said that similar rock piles were found on his parents’ property.  Piedmont streams flow east to the ocean.  In some cases curves of the rivers cause them to flow west for a short distance  instead of east.  These, it is thought, were special places for sacred sites.  Gilles Allard, a geologist, thinks they were just the clearing of fields by pioneer farmers, but this particular site does not appear conducive to farming.  At this point Lee told about a book spoofing archeologists by suggesting what they would think of a motel site a thousand years from now.

On the way back down Don found hearts a’ bustin’ in full bloom.
Hearts a' bustin'

After the wonderful adventure along the bluff we headed up the Orange Trail to the bridge to the Flower Garden.  Along the way we did see examples of rattlesnake fern.

As we entered the Woodland Walk in the Flower Garden, the cheerful yellow flowers of green and gold urged us on.  Beside them was deerberry, which is in the blueberry family.  It
Deerberry flower
gets its scientific name from the extension of the stamens beyond the petals of the bell-like flower.  Crossing the bridge over the dry creek we discussed the good behavior of the native wisteria growing here in contrast to invasive Chinese wisteria.  It was in full bloom with lovely flower clusters similar to the Chinese version, but not as long.

Many retired to Donderos for refreshment.  Thank goodness it was open again after last week’s closing for the annual ball preparations.


Common Name
Scientific Name
Virginia spiderwort
Tradescantia virginiana
Coreopsis sp.
White false indigo
Baptisia alba
Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora
Korean dogwood
Cornus kousa
Black cohosh
Actea racemosa
Podophyllum peltatum
Mapleleaf viburnum
Viburnum acerifolium
Galax urceolata
Hearts a bustin
Euonymus americanus
Sweet shrub
Calycanthus floridus
Mountain laurel
Kalmia latifolia
Rattlesnake weed
Hieracium venosum
Long leaf summer bluet
Houstonia longifolia
American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens
Chrysogonum virginianum
Vaccinium stamineum

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