Wednesday, August 28, 2013

July 2013: Brown Pink Violet Blue

Brown in the summer generally marks the progress of a drought but this wet summer it marks vigorous plants producing seemingly endless seeds. On July 25 a walk across the plateau atop the ridge north of Thousand Island Park can be a pretty crunchy affair as lichens and moss dry out and grasses quit, but not this year.

Though let me quickly add, my interest in the state of vegetation up on the rocks was less ecological and more esthetic. What beautiful combinations of intrinsically beautiful plants. Dare I called that hair grass, and not a brunette at all but a blonde?

Patterns were more difficult to appreciate in the meadows. The beauty there was in my face. The steeplebushs’ pink effervesance  almost tickled my nose.

Next to that were several Joe Pye weed plants about to out grow me.

Actually Joe Pye weed always gets up to around 8 feet tall. This wet year there is a lot more of it of all sizes making it easier to see how the early bright pink flowers explode into a cloud of pink (evidently that “explosion” attracts the bees.)

The thistle did sky rocket this year which gave me pause since it has nasty stickers. But that is thankfully a very erect plant and I could keep my distance and enjoy the pink violet flower that crowns the thorns.

All that violent imagery aside, the bees certainly make the flower of this thistle seem most comfortable and less a question of sucking nectar. The bee seems buoyed in it.

The meadow where I was enjoying those tall pink blooms also had a bass line, ghost-like purple flowers at my feet, downy wood mint.

On the shore of the small pond nearby, the Second Pond on our land, the pickerel weed just in the water raised blue flowers about as high as they always get.

And the dark green leaves of the pickerel weed are also beautiful.

Since pickerel weed grows in pond water the extra rain of this summer did not send that weed galloping over our land as it did the Joe Pye weed, save for one new patch in the Deep Pond.

However, the water level in the St. Lawrence River was a good foot higher than it usually is in July and as I paddled along the shore of South Bay I was surprised to see pickerel weed.

The leaves on these river plants looked bigger than the ones in the ponds. Since I was in a kayak when I saw this pickerel weed patch, I could take a video of the blooms as I drifted by getting a bit of a bee’s view.

(I had a sense of deja vu as I drifted by the plants. It reminded me of a recent bullfrog's eye view of myself on a blustery day by the Deep Pond.)


This has been a good year for my favorite blue flower, the vervain, especially in the beaver meadows. I first met vervain when all the beaver ponds in the island were brimming and I had to take some care walking on the narrow dams and make sure I didn’t grab a thistle or nettle. In 2009 the Big Pond dam still held back enough water for beavers to live in and vervain maintained a modest presence on the dam. Here is a photo from August 10.

Now that the ponds are meadows the grasses and sedges have driven the vervain off the dams.

But behind the Big Pond dam the vervain has established a tall blue line back in the meadow. During last year’s dry July 21, vervain flourished on the old north shore of the pond.

It was about the only plant that did well. This year along with all  the flourishing plants, vervain made its blue line on the south side of the meadow

Well, it’s not exactly blue and given how feeble its blossoms are, only one tiny flower on a four inch pedestal,

it’s amazing that it can be noticed at all.

All that said, this has to be an interim report on the meadows. The goldenrods are just coming out. 

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