Thursday, July 12, 2012

Le Tour de Plants

July 9, 2012
Stage One:  To the Mystery Bog

I soon found myself observing
when plants first blossomed and leafed,
and I followed it up early and late, far and near,
several years in succession,
running to different sides of the town
and into the neighboring towns,
often between twenty and thirty miles in a day.
I often visited a particular plant four or five miles distant, half a dozen times within a fortnight,
that I might know exactly when it opened,
beside attending to a great many others
in different directions
and some of them equally distant,
at the same time.
    HDTs Journal, December 4, 1856

It’s always nice to meet new friends.
It’s even nicer to meet a fellow nature-blogger from far away.

Andrew Gibson has a wonderful blog,The Natural Treasures of Ohio.
He may actually be living his life much like the quotation above. Plants may be his interest, but orchids are his passion.

After he saw some of the varieties mentioned in Jackie’s blog,
he arranged to visit for a few days in July.
Jackie has planned a whirlwind tour of some of our favorite places.

It was tricky figuring out the timing of his trip,
since many plants are on a different schedule this summer.
And orchids are notorious for unpredictability, and for having a very short blooming-time.
She and I have been scouting likely spots for weeks, with certain plants in mind. So we too, having been "running to different sides of the town."
I was more than happy to be able to accompany them on two of their stops on Le Tour de Plants.

After a 12-hour drive to Jackie’s house, Andrew was ready for the first stop on Monday morning.
We all met at the Mystery Bog, and after a short walk, our feet were sinking into spongy sphagnum moss.

Within five minutes, we saw the white orchid spikes,
lit by the morning sun.

“I would die and go to heaven to see the White Fringed Orchis,”
to paraphrase what Andrew wrote to Jackie, commenting on her blog last summer.

Well, heaven came this year !

Then he got down to business and took some careful portraits of a flower that is almost completely gone from his home state of Ohio.

That’s when it struck me, how lucky we are. He's come a very long way to see something that I can see with a ten-minute drive.
What a wealth of riches we have in this area, botanically speaking!

After your eyes got used to the scenery, you saw these tender pale spikes all over the place.
We stepped gingerly as we explored the bog, while Andrew happily took photos.

The water seeping into my shoes felt refreshingly cold.
Jackie opted for the total-immersion method of cooling off.

Calapogon (Grass-Pink) was still in bloom.

If Rose-Pogonia is the Audrey Hepburn of our local orchids,
then Calapogon is the Katy Perry.

Tufted spikes of cotton-grass rose above mounds of Bog Rosemary.
We heard that comforting old song of the north,
Sam Peabody… Peabody …Peabody... from somewhere back in the spruces.
Hidden away beneath the tamarack branches, a few pitcher-plants tried to tempt us with a cup of water.

Thoreau would have headed straight for the huckleberries.

Each time I come here, once inside the bog, I get that feeling that it might as well be Labrador.  Few people seem to know about this place, and it’s pretty quiet and still in here. The moss absorbs sound as well as water.

The wet environment attracts water-loving insects like this May-fly.
Or would that be a July-fly?

I spotted a spider, and sat down beside her.
She really blends in with the orchis flowers.

I heard a distant voice, and looked up, and caught a glimpse of humans approaching.  What ! other people in “our” bog?

Then we saw who it was.
Of all people, it turned out to be Ed Miller and Nan Williams,
friends from the Thursday Naturalists !  

We were delighted to see them, and to be able to introduce Andrew to two of the most knowledgeable plant-folks in our area.
Soon the conversation was peppered with words like Blephariglottis, Desmodium, and Bartonia

There we stood, chatting away like old friends meeting on a street corner.
Only we were in the middle of this swamp,
as if this was THE Place to Be.
And it was.


  1. Amazing post, Sue! It was such a pleasure to meet you and spend some time in your beloved areas soaking in all the beauty and botany of the Adirondacks. I love the actions shots, I rarely have any pictures of me out in the field.

  2. Wonderful! Just wonderful! You have captured a very special day, and crowned it with Thoreau's quote.

  3. No it was MY pleasure to be out in the field with the two of YOU -
    Andrew, I would suggest a Four-Leaf Clover as your Coat-of-Arms, since you DO bring luck wherever you roam !
    Thank you for enjoying my photos, only a True Flower Nerd would consider those as "action" shots ! But yes they are. You were certainly enjoying the moment.
    Jackie, thank you for being a fellow Flower Nerd (and coining the term in the first place).

  4. Lovely post. HDT's sentiment that you quote, I can readily relate to as applied to other settings...maybe not a plant per se, but even as "general" as a special place; could be anything, really!

  5. Thanks for sharing! Really enjoyed your post. Bogs are such special locations!

  6. Love that opening photo! You had a great stretch of days there - magical indeed.