Monday, April 30, 2012

Blue and green

Showy orchis
Sunday was a day so beautiful that even a stack of chores and a dirty house couldn’t keep me inside. I had to go outside, to walk in the woods, to see what the forest had to offer. The bright sun and cool temperature begged for walking. Refusing that call was out of the question.

I headed down into the moist valley between Roundtop Mtn. and Flat Hill. I wanted to sit at the pond, explore the banks of the old road and look for a plant or a flower that I didn’t have in my drier woods up on the mountain. It didn’t matter what I saw, really, as long as I was out.

My first stop was the pond, and though I planned to sit there, I didn’t stay. The reason? A pair of wood duck startled at my approach and flew over to the far side, away from me. Perhaps they are nesting or soon to be, and I didn’t want to disturb that possibility. I walked on.

The woods are drier than I expected. Normally in spring, the old woods road has spots where the walking is all but impossible without a pair of Wellies. Today, Beaver Creek is running full and loud, but the road is dry, with not even a half-decent puddle to avoid. Water isn’t rushing off the mountain. The springs that drain off the mountain aren’t running. It’s April, the month of showers, and it shouldn’t be like this.

I find wild geraniums, violets, buttercups and rue anemone, all of which I have up by my cabin. The ferns are unfolding, if still smaller than they will be. They are reaching the point where I can identify them, though, which is further along than they were two or three weeks ago when I was last down here.

And then I find the flowers. Small, with a broad green leaf. Most are blue, but the shades run from almost-white to almost-pink to pale lavender. The flowers aren’t completely opened yet.  And what is it? What is this pale blue flower.  Showy orchis.  A native orchid.

I found several plants, between 4 and 6 all together, all fairly close to each other.The top photo actually shows two plants together.  Aren't they beautiful? I suspected this plant was here. I found the plants last summer, long after the blooms were gone, but the leaves were still there and looked right.

The plant is small, perhaps 8-10 inches across. The flowers are but half an inch or so. The orchid is uncommon but prefers rich, moist woods and is most often found along stream beds.  The only other member of this orchid family is found in Asia, or so I've read. Unlike many orchids, this one is fragrant, though the aroma was still mild as the flowers aren't yet completely open.

A walk in the forest is always fun and always shows me something different.  And there's always magic, too. 

1 comment:

Carolyn H said...

Actually, when I look again at my top photo, it looks like three separate plants all together, not two, as I thought when I originally wrote this post.