Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Blooming Wonderful

The Finger Lakes of New York are a bonanza for the nature lover. One of my favorite nature spots in spring is the Mundy Wildflower Garden along Fall Creek on the Cornell University campus. It is a rich, intensely managed natural area with an amazing array of native plants, and it is alive with birds, too.  I have been going there for twelve years and always come away richly rewarded.  To learn more, go to:

Today, I began there shortly after sunrise. I concentrated on the flowers though the birds were very active.  Later, I would join a work party removing invasives and planting more native plants. But first, I would have some play time. Entering the garden,  large beds of yellow surrounded the white flowers of the Great Solomon's Seal hanging gracefully beneath rich green leaves.  I've seen Ruby-thoated Hummingbirds hovering under these to gather nectar.

Near the entrance was White Baneberry, Actaea pachypoda, called Doll's Eyes because the china white berries have a purplish "pupil". The plant in Mundy was in such a charming alignment that a photo was mandatory. The leaves and flower head were in ideal arrangement.

Other delights awaited me in the garden.  Down the trail were the Great Solomon's Seal mixed in with Wild Geranium. Also called Spotted Cranesbill, Geranium maculatum is an easy plant to introduce into the home garden.  Both of these are hardy, though I've learned to keep the Solomon's Seal behind a fence to thwart the deer's hunger. Unlike so many of our introduced garden plants, they are ideally matched to our climate and low maintenance.

Next I came upon some False Solomon's Seal growing among the ferns. These sway in the slightest breeze, so I had to work fast before the sun stirred up the air.  However, unlike a bird, they cannot fly away just as I get ready to fire the shutter.

Not all plants are in peak bloom; the large White Trillium, Trillium grandiflorum, can also be attractive when the white flowers fade to red.  See below.

 Another deer resistance plant that is ideal for the home garden is the Wild Columbine. Watching a hummingbird feed on it is not to be missed.  In many cases, it has been shown that these native varieties have richer nectar than the exotic varieties that may be somewhat showier.  For me, a native plant that is better adapted to our locale means less care in the garden and a great ability to sustain itself over the years.

My saunter through Mundy Wildflower Garden led me to another late spring favorite, May Apple.  I have it in my home garden where its toxicity has proven its worth. Deer have never touched it.  It is not invasive and requires zero care.  Today I headed for a favorite place in Mundy where I discovered a harvestman spider in residence.

I made a final stop on my way to join the work party. I had found another Wild Geranium next to a contrasting tree.  The difference in the textures and colors attracted me.

 There was just so much eye candy to be found, that I found it hard to quit. The ephemeral nature of native plants means that a return next week will present a new set of blooms to enjoy. That is part of what keeps me coming back each year. Throughout the spring, there are both wildflower and bird walks in the Plantations that are expert-led.  They are listed in this link:

So, whether it is birds or flowers, the Mundy Wildflower Garden is a treasure for all nature lovers.  Discover it if you can.


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