After twenty years in the state of Pennsylvania I suppose it’s time to recognize that I might be settling in for a longer haul. A job originally brought me here but my wife grew up in the area and now as my kids become older they’re about at that point where they will forever wear that label of being ‘from here’. So I guess it’s time to start learning the lay of the land. The lay of the local land that is, not the hours long journeys, just the trips up the street and into the woods. This morning was beautiful, I had a few hours free, I knew a place where lady slipper orchids grow.
It was too late for the lady slipper orchids so I headed up into the mountains looking for mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia). Too early for them. No problem. I took the long way home and stopped to explore a clearcut area. I had planned on going a little further and making this a plant tour, but a few tadpoles stranded in a mudpuddle on the road distracted me. The pond I filled last fall is still disgustingly empty of amphibians, so in a bid to rescue the from their rapidly evaporating home (and bring tadpoles to suburbia) I picked up some roadside trash and began filling it with tadpoles.
On the way out I also managed to find a few plants worth photographing. They’re not lady slippers, but Pixterbloom Azalea (Rhododenron periclymenoides… I think) are nice enough as well. My research to identify them came up with the word “common” but that shouldn’t matter. They’re amazing, and the color and form are perfect, and for all the work I do in the garden these plants just spring up on their own and it’s a little humbling.
The azaleas seemed to be enjoying the full sun of the recently cleared area. I know people love trees and trees do a lot to bail us out of our global warming future, but some sunlight on the ground is good too and these plants seem to appreciate it.
There’s another park I haven’t been to in a while that has been doing some burns in order to increase the plant diversity. Maybe I should add that visit to the to-do list.
So it was an entirely unsuccessful botanizing trip. Maybe I’ll catch the lady slippers next year and the mountain laurel in a few weeks, but in the meantime I have tadpoles to watch. That’s not bad either, and it’s a good distraction from the endless daffodil digging and trudging around the garden with a water hose… rain would be nice just about now.
Have a great week. Mine has started out just fine, but I can’t help but laugh at the fact that no one questioned me about being gone for hours and returning with a dirty cup full of tadpoles.