June 21, 2012 Hudson River Ice Meadows
And then for my afternoon walks
I have a garden,
larger than any artificial garden
that I have read of
and far more attractive to me,
- mile after mile of embowered walks,
such as no nobleman’s grounds can boast …
HDT Journal, June 20, 1850
Another bonus of having this week off : I can go rambling with the Thursday
Naturalists this week, and not have to leave after just an hour or so.
And to make it even easier, the group happens to be travelling up to my neck of
the woods, or in this case, neck of the river.
Jackie and I walk with them whenever we are able, since their collective
plant knowledge is so vast (plus they are fun to be with.) So we are meeting
them here today to spend some sunny hours in a botanical wonderland.
The garden we are walking in today is none other than the Ice Meadows, which
is a botanically unique environment that runs along both banks of the Hudson
River, just north of Warrensburg.
We begin on the west bank, on land
owned by the Nature Conservancy.
As you head toward the river’s edge, it’s
impossible to walk more than ten feet without seeing something interesting,
Like Shining Ladies’ Tresses.
And Tuberculed Orchis.
If you look closely you can see the telltale bump on the lower petal.
Or Rose Pogonia, a delicate and stylish little orchid.
The Audrey Hepburn of
the flower world.
Or Racemed Milkwort, one of several flowers that I can add to my “life list”
on this day.
Here’s another one you don't see just anywhere:
Dwarf St. Johnswort, opening up her
petals in a sleepy yawn.
You can see the relative size of these little wonders, and know why
most serious botanizers carry a magnifying loupe.
Even common plants can appear different here -- smaller or stunted by the
harsh effects of the winter ice which piles up in this section of the river.
Oh, ice !
I wish I had some now.
Sweat is trickling down my brow as I bend low to admire a tiny sundew,
currently in bloom. It too seems adorned
with beads of sweat, but these sticky beads are how this carnivorous plant
catches its insect prey.
One might suppose that in the middle of our current heat wave, the TNs might
have cancelled this trip, or stayed indoors heeding the Official Warnings for Delicate Persons. Not
this bunch !
(Pouring rain does not deter them, either, as I found out the last
time I walked with them at Moreau Lake.)
We cope with the heat, each in our own way.
Nevertheless, several hours in the sun, with temperatures near 90 degrees, is
At lunchtime, Ed wisely leads us to Snake Rock. There we are able to sit in
the shade, feel the breeze coming down the valley, and admire the upriver view.
No lunch I could pack can beat the taste of ripe, sun-warmed blueberries.
After lunch, it’s time for more exploring, despite the heat. It’s so nice to
have the afternoon free.
I join Jackie and Win as they drive over to the east side of this part of the
We find some of the same flowers, some of them rarities, on this side as
Such as Sticky Tofieldia.
Here the rocks, veined with marble, wriggle down into the river.
And butterflies, much smarter than us, catch a moment of shade.
Jackie leads us to a spot in the pines, and like a proud gardener,
shows us a flower she found in a visit here earlier this week: one-flowered
Its nodding white flowers are stars strewn all over the forest floor.
No artificial garden can compare!
5 months ago