Into The Woods

Finally! I was able to get out into the woods yesterday afternoon after having spent all morning and early afternoon first working on my yard and then my Mom’s yard. And I was hoping, based on the past dates in my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide that I would be able to find some of my favorite spring flowers in bloom. And we did! Yay!

We were so excited to spy some lovely little patches of Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

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I *love* this flower. And in New York State this plant is listed as Exploitably Vulnerable 😦

And then we spied tons of Trout Lilies or Yellow Adder’s Tongue or Dogtooth Violet (Erythronium americanum) (don’t you love all of the common names).

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You can see the brown mottling on the leaves.

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And then another favorite of mine, Cut-leaved Toothwort or Pepperroot (Dentaria laciniata), and you can see where both the common name and latin names come from by this next photo:

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Here’s one with a white flower and a little bee pollinating it:

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And one with pinkish flowers:

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This next flower I know is a Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis), but I’m not sure whether it is a sharp-lobed or blunt-lobed since I didn’t look at the leaves (bad Pam).

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Another favorite of mine, and one of the 100 herbs I had to learn inside and out, Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

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I love the way the leaves come up (and don’t you love the way they poke right through the dried tree leaves)?

I love the leaves when they’re unfolded:
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And, of course, I have to show the coolest parts, the spathe and spadix (the spathe being the outer hood and the spadix the knob-shaped cluster inside of it).

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We also saw Marsh Marigolds or Cowslip (Caltha palustris) but it was too early for their blossoms:

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(sorry no closeups, I wasn’t prepared to go into the water, and I don’t really know how deep it is).

There’s a platform at the edge of the swamp that you can watch and listen to all kinds of birds. I accidentally flushed out a turkey, but didn’t capture a photo of it. Here’s last year’s cattails:

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And I spied some eyeballs, can you see them?

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Here’s a crop of this photo so you can see the eyeballs a little better:

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There’s tons of frogs here.

We tried finding sunning turtles, but I guess we were too late in the day for them. We did see a couple of snakes, but I was only able to capture this Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis):

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I love snakes! You can also see how profuse the Trout-Lilies are here, along with the Cut-Leaved Toothwort. And I love my new book The Amphibians and Reptiles of New York State because I don’t have to weed through a million species! (P.S. Mary, you’ve *got* to check out the cover of this book)!

Another one of my favorites, moss around the base of a tree in the swamp:
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And a burl. I would love to see the inside of it.
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And you know I can’t walk through the woods without photographing fungus:
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That’s basically it! Except for all of the tremendous sounds in the woods – the bird calls, peepers, etc. We couldn’t have picked a better day to go into the woods! I used to walk through these woods every day, and I miss them very much!

P.S. And for the record, it was 86 degrees F today. Yes, in April. Very unusual for this time of year.

Watkins Glen State Park

Yesterday we went to Watkins Glen State Park to hike up the many falls until we reached the top. This is where we started, at the bottom, where this water eventually makes it way into Seneca Lake.

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And when I turned around, I saw the beginning of the awesome sites we were about to see:

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We started out on the Gorge Trail, and as we climbed to the first bridge, we saw the first waterfalls which is at the bottom of a series of waterfalls that fall in steps. This waterfall is really cool because the water goes through the narrow curves really fast:

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The stone walls drip with water and are covered with all kinds of plants, including liverwort! Excuse my excitement, I’ve never seen liverwort in person that I know of:

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I absolutely love how the water has cut through the rock in this next photo:

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And speaking of love, my heart belongs to. . .

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Is that awesome how the water has cut the rock into a heart shape! This is at the foot of the next waterfall:

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At the next waterfall, which we walked behind (but no pics because my camera doesn’t know how to swim), the early morning sun was shining on the water just right for us to see a rainbow – see it?

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Once we walked behind this waterfall:

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We had to climb up the spiral tunnel staircase built within the rock wall. We saw tons and tons of ferns, including Maidenhair Spleenwort (another favorite of mine):

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Trees were hanging on the sides with their roots for dear life:

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The wildflowers were gorgeous:

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The roses smelled wonderful:

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Check this out! These ripples on the walkway were actually ripples of sand at the bottom of an ancient sea!

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They also are in the streambed:

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There’s lots of moss along the stone walls. Here’s an interesting one that’s a little longer than the rest I saw there:

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Here’s the next waterfalls we encountered:

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This is the same waterfalls looking down from the stone bridge:

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At this point there are several pools, called the Glen of Pools, such as this one. Oh my, I could have dove right in the water looked sooo refreshing!

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The next waterfalls we saw are the Rainbow Falls. You have to be there just at the right time of day to see a rainbow here. What I love here is the waterfall coming down the side of the wall, too:

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Here’s a better view of the waterfall coming down the side of the rock wall:

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Oh, and now we saw the wall full of ferns. I’ve never seen so many ferns like this on a rock wall!

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There are several fractures, or joints, along the rock walls:

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These joints were caused by a great continental collision between North America and Africa three million years ago that pushed up the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania and the Allegheny Plateau, a large area that includes the Finger Lakes region. The tremendous pressure of the continental collision fractured the rocks of Watkins Glen and the rest of southern New York State and lifted the land up.

Here’s another pool which I think is really cool:

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Here’s another waterfall we encountered.

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Looking back once at the top of the waterfall, we saw more beautiful curves of the watercut stone:

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And after climbing all of the stairs (I’ve heard there are 800 stairs on this trail), we decided to go the top along the Indian Trail:

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The thing I like about the Indian trail are no stairs! We climbed up and down trails. Here’s where we tested out my hiking / trekking poles for the first time. My brother suggested that my Mom buy a pair since they’re going hiking in Yosemite, so she wanted to try them. She took off like a bat out of hell going up a hill with them, so I had to try them out, and I took off. They really work!

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On Indian Trail we saw an interpretive sign that said it takes 25 years for the water we saw here in the glen to make its way out to the Atlantic Ocean! That blew our minds.

We also saw many different species of trees, including Chestnut Oak.

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At this overlook on Indian Trail, we had come down the hill a ways, but still, I took a photo of the same hill as I show in the first photo, and you can see we were up and far into the glen quite a ways!

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Here’s another one of those faults (joints) I mentioned earlier:

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And another view of the first waterfalls.

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I took a ton of photos, and what I’ve shown you are just a few of them. I hope you enjoyed them, and I hope you can make it to Watkins Glen someday! It was very refreshing to breathe in the fresh air there, and to smell wonderful smells of wet dirt and water.

What I Do When I Have a STUPID Day. . .

what else, instead of hiding under the covers and praying for a quick end to the day, but to go for a walk in the woods! And that’s just what I did. After a stupid day at work. Stupid stupid stupid. Stupid. Stupid. There, now on to my walk. I went to 1000 Acre Swamp. I’ll be searching out other woods, because swamp = mosquitoes, and how the heck am I supposed to get decent photos with them sucking my very life’s blood out of my body.

Anyway, I came home from stupid (yes I really do appreciate having a job) and ate an early, quick dinner, and headed out to the swamp/woods. I felt an instant serge of peace and energy flow through me as I walked down this path to the swamp / woods.

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I saw buttercups, and columbine. This one was being shy, but I love the purple.

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And fleabane, which looks white in this photo, but it’s actually a very light purple:

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As I started walking on the boardwalk,

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I heard the frogs rebel and hop into the water. Someone’s looking at you!

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I love these cinnamon ferns on this log in the middle of the swamp:

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and this little island with the reflection of the blue sky on the water, and the sunlight:

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Christmas Fern:

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I love this photo of the boardwalk. I set the camera darker than it really was. Don’t know why I did that, I just felt like it.

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There was a bird here, a lifer too, one beautiful bird. I sooo need a quicker camera.

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And a fern I didn’t id:

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Lots of fungus on a log:

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I saw a jack-in-the-pulpit. Sorry, I wasn’t in the mood to get down in the mud to photograph “Jack.”

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Another fern I didn’t id:

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It was at this point that I started seeing leaves of three all over the place. Nooooo, I won’t be taking any more walks in this swamp for now. I am not going to get poison ivy again this summer if I can help it.

And then I saw the partly fallen tree that goes over the path I had to walk on. I forgot about that, too. It makes me VERY uncomfortable to walk under it. All I need is to be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” so to speak.

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Ohhh, rocks, but nothing like what I saw at ASP last Saturday.

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Okay, so I’ve been waiting very patiently to show you this. Remember the tree on Trillium Trail that looks like it’s running away from its issues?

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It.

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Has.

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Leaves!! And it’s a maple.

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How awesome is that!

All in all, what a peaceful end to a, ummm, what kind of day was that again?

A 65,000 Acre Backyard

What does one do with a 65,000 acre backyard? Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Mon@rch (Tom) and experiencing first-hand some of what he does in his *huge* backyard! We hiked to many very interesting places. First we went to an old growth forest, where he taught me so much more about old growth forests, so now I hopefully can spot one when I’m in one! One of the many signs are the mounds created from fallen trees. Saplings grow on this rich soil, eventually this soil is washed away, and this is an example of what is left:

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And this:

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You will also see buttress roots on the older trees, like this:

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Another sign is when you look up a tree there are no branches down low. You have to look up at the canopy to see the leaves of the trees, like this:

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The old trees will be nice and straight, like the one above and this one:

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(are you getting than I’m in heaven here with all of these trees and learning!)

You’ll see newly fallen over trees, which leave a huge hole in the canopy. The saplings that have been waiting for this opportunity start growing, and eventually the strongest sapling(s) win.

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You see a variety of trees in the area. One of the trees that I was really surprised to see (and I didn’t capture a photo of) is a HUGE cucumber magnolia tree!

On the way down and back up the old ski slope we saw lots of interrupted fern:

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And Mayapple:

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along with a large variety of other vegetation, including club moss, that I didn’t capture (I know, well, I’ll just have to go back, won’t I?)

Next, Mon@rch took me to see a 200 year old Sugar Maple tree. Mon@rch showed you his up-tree photo, so I’ll show you other views:

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Check out these buttress roots. Aren’t they gorgeous!

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I love the rocks laying all over the place. Makes it hard to walk through a field of rocks like this, but I still think they’re wonderful:

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Next we saw Bridal Veil Falls, but it was raining so we didn’t bring the cameras there. Hopefully I can take photos another time!

Next stop was at Thunder Rocks. Are you getting the theme, I love trees, flowers and rocks, and of course, birds! Rock polypody grows on these boulders, along with moss, lichens, trees, etc.:

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And a tree that looks like it’s sitting up down on this boulder:

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Next we went to France Brook and saw a beaver:

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And when it got scared it disappeared under the water and didn’t show up again. We also saw a pair of grackles removing fecal sacks from the cavity of a dead tree. Here’s a beaver dam in a pond down further:

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While Mon@rch was talking on his cell ordering us some food, I took photos of the Administration Building:

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And the bridge at Red House lake:

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Then we went up to Stone Tower:

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This is the view from the top looking north:

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There is an arrow in the stones pointing to (magnetic?) north:

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And here’s the view looking southwest:

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If the trees weren’t there we could have seen Red House lake!

We stopped to see a ton of Blue Cohosh, a favorite herb of mine!

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Then we went up to the top of another hill with a restaurant on it and took some photos of the view:

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After that we headed for the store for (vegeterian – thanks Mon@rch) pizza, and met Grace who is the naturalist at Allegany State Park and does the ASP blog here.

If anyone wonders why I love New York State, this park is a fine example of why I think NYS is one of the most beautiful places to live! Many, many thanks to Mon@rch for the wonderful day of learning and hiking!

The Thousand Acre Swamp Sanctuary

I had all good intentions of *birding* at the Thousand Acre Swamp Sanctuary, however, the birds were very uncooperative. I heard them, I saw their little bodies partially hiding behind trees and shrubs, but they were way too busy to give me a chance to photograph them. So no lifers to report – from here anyway! The entrance sign said ‘no dogs, no horses, no motor vehicles.’ Yeah, right. I saw doggy foot prints all over the place. Who is going to enforce that?
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What would a swamp be without some fungus:

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Some moss – I *love* the seta sticking up:

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Some duckweed (may be lesser duckweed) – where are the ducks?

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A boardwalk through part of it so I can walk over the swamp:

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Some falling trees – scary because the trail goes through where this tree would fall if the other tree wasn’t holding it up. I thoroughly checked it out before slinking quickly across the path.
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Woodpecker holes in dead trees (thanks Susan):

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Poison Ivy on a tree – argh! – get me away from that – I still have faint scars from this summer!
Leaves of three, let it be!
Hairy vine, no friend of mine!

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Some rosehips (thanks Susan):

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A hornet’s nest (thanks Susan):
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And a tree that looks like he’s trying to run away from his major issues:
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The tartarian honeysuckle (very bad invasive plant) is already leafing out with this strangely warm weather – it was around a high of 57 degrees F today, January 4, 2007.
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I’ve seen ducks, geese and old bird’s nests here in the past, but none today. The cattails and weeds haven’t been smushed down by any snow yet, so it they’re there, they can hide very well. I don’t know where the old bird’s nests are.
I’ll be going back – especially in the spring! Hint, hint my hiking friend!

Mushroom Walk, Part V

Okay, I’m back to blogging about my Mushroom Walk in Letchworth Park, Sept. 2004.

My professsor “wrote” on the top of one of the mushrooms:

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I love this next photo, fungus on a tree root, a fern, fallen leaves, etc.: IMG-064

More fungus on a tree and log:

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This is really cool with the fungus in the tree along with moss, lichens, etc.: IMG-066

A pretty little mushroom:

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The underside of an interesting mushroom:

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And the topside of the same mushroom: IMG-069

I think this was pulled off of a tree: IMG-071

I’ll leave the rest for the final post to come later. I hope you enjoy these today!

Sonnenberg Gardens

We visited Sonnenberg Gardens & Manion State Historical Park in Canandaigua today, as we have done for the last 20+ years. Recently the State of New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation purchased the mansion and gardens. After having seen Sonnenberg decline over the years, it is good to see things are improving by being cleaned and repaired. I only wish they would work on preserving the very old trees, some of which are in decline there. However, we look forward to future improvements!

I have taken many photos of the place over the years, and I won’t show the typical photos now (of the mansion, gardens), but I will show some of the things I look forward to seeing when I go there. I love watching the ducks, especially when they dunk for food putting their butts straight up in the air and paddling with their feet:

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I love watching ducks take baths (didn’t see one doing that today) and preening themselves:

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I love the shape of the conservatory:

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I love all of the old trees there, I picked this Purple Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘atropurpurea’) to show you:

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And here’s its huge trunk – I love the roots:

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We saw two frogs in the Japanese Garden. One on a rock:

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And one in an evergreen on the bank of the pond:

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When I walked by this Hosta I smelled the most wonderful smell, so I had to capture a photo its beautiful flowers:

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I finally captured a butterfly fully open in the Colonial Garden:

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And I love ferns tucked into little places, and love all of the moss and lichens on the rocks in the rock garden:

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We usually see at least one turtle, but today we didn’t see any around. Today was Arts in the Gardens, so we saw some phenomenal arts and crafts, too. All around, it was a great day!

Moss

As I was weeding my horseradish, I uncovered moss. I love moss!

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My backyard is surrounded on three sides by big, old trees, so it’s very shady! If you think moss is something you need to get rid of, you may want to read Gathering Moss, by Robin Wall Kimmerer:
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After you finish this book, you’ll never want to yank moss out of your space again!