Native Life

Mountain Laurel Bloom

This gorgeous native shrub, Kalmia latifolia, is now blooming. They begin to bloom along the coast and warmer low lying areas in mid May. By June those found in the blue ridge mountains begin to open up. If you're out hiking in any wilder woody area, this is a great time to catch a glimpse of their truly, beautiful and unique hexagonal flowers. 

There are slopes of mountain laurel along the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail (see post under "Trails").  There are also large groves along the Calvert Cliff Trails. 

Various cultivated forms of this shrub are also used in the landscape (see photo below).  One challenge with growing this lovely evergreen native is the deer love to eat it.  Keep it protected if you have deer.  All parts of this plant are poisonous to us -- but that is no deterrent to the deer.  The range for this plant extends from southern Maine to northern Florida and west to Indiana.  It is the state flower of Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Blockhouse Pawpaw Trail

 Check out the Pawpaw Trail at Blockhouse Point Conservation Park. Park on River Road near the intersection with Petit Way. Follow the Blockhouse Trail for 1.5 miles then take the short Pawpaw trail a quarter mile to a rock outcropping with a spectacular view of the Potomac River and the C & O Canal trail. When the trees are not fully leafed out you can see all the way to Dickerson. There's a perfect rock outcropping to sit on and enjoy the view.

 Check out the Pawpaw Trail at Blockhouse Point Conservation Park. Park on River Road near the intersection with Petit Way. Follow the Blockhouse Trail for 1.5 miles then take the short Pawpaw trail a quarter mile to a rock outcropping with a spectacular view of the Potomac River and the C & O Canal trail. When the trees are not fully leafed out you can see all the way to Dickerson. There's a perfect rock outcropping to sit on and enjoy the view.

God bless the ground, I shall walk softly there

Spring beauties (claytonia virginica) and wild violet  ( viola papilionacea)

Spring beauties (claytonia virginica) and wild violet (viola papilionacea)

Happy 108th Birthday to the poet Theodore Roethke! When the tiny spring flowers push up through the soggy mud and begin to bloom, I think of the words of his 1953 poem The Waking,

Of those so close beside me, which are you?   

God bless the Ground!  I shall walk softly there,   

And learn by going where I have to go. 

 

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?   

The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;   

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. 

 

Great Nature has another thing to do   

To you and me; so take the lively air,   

And, lovely, learn by going where to go. 

 

You can read the full poem here

There are so many "close beside" us in this growing and blooming season. As we take time to learn which are which and who is who, we become aware of how abundantly full the earth is. I used to look into the forest and see a tangled mass of green. But by watching, each season I've become better at distinguishing individuals. I look forward to the arrival of my favorites and wish a blessing on their growing. My eyes have also sharpened on my less favored, the many over-reaching invasives that choke out the diversity, the native but voracious poison ivy that only the berry eating birds can love. 

Going forward on the blog we will be posting more about the many living beings in our area.