A short walk in the rain
Sometimes all you can do is take a short walk in the rain. This time we lucked out and found these lovely jewelweed buds and a Bristly Buttercup!
Flower Spotlight: Bloodroot
The bloodroot is hitting peak bloom right now in mid-northeast Ohio, along stream edges and in damp woodland areas. They can be identified by their beautifully symmetrical 8-10 petaled stark white flowers with a bright golden sometimes orange center. What's most unique about this flower is the flower will rise up and bloom before its leaves unfurl. The flower, once blooming, only lasts a few short days, closing at night and on cloudy days. The name bloodroot comes from the red fluid from the underground stem; native americans once used the dye from this plant to color baskets, clothing, and to use as war paint and insect repellant.
See slideshow below to watch from a bud to a full bloom!
Creek walking baby ferns
There are so many buds and blooms, today's top bloomer was the Bloodroot by a long shot! Followed by the spring beauty, then the trillium buds (still no blooms). I decided to take a stroll through the creek this time and was pleasantly surprised to find teeny tiny ferns unraveling! Again, the joys of proper waterproof footwear! (It helped it was warm out too).
Dutchman's Breeches, Bloodroot, Trillium, Blue Cohoch, May Apple, Grape Hyacinth, and so many more!
I keep telling myself, 'I'm only going to hike one trail today', and every day, three hours later, I end up on the other side of the park. I will say though, I am very grateful to have the time right now to be able to get lost in nature for hours on end.
We have new blooms to observe!
Although it's not technically a wildflower, it's good to be able to identify, the stinging nettle is waking up from its winter slumber, and without the jewelweed plant out to counteract the sting, it's best to avoid this plant at all cost!
The Dutchman's Breeches are beginning their peak bloom with their large spurs (pant legs) and yellow (waistbands) you can't miss them!
Bloodroot blooms are popping up everywhere, as they crack open to greet the sun, they resemble an egg, stark white outside, deep yellow/orange inside.
Still no blooming trillium, but the whole hilltop is covered with tri-leaved budding plants ready to burst open at a moment's notice.
In the span of three weeks the view of the hill-trail-valley has burst awake with color. The main plant on the hillside has been identified as Ramps (variant of the Wild Leek/Wild Onion) walking down the hill on a warm sunny day you can catch a whiff of a spicy onion-y dish!
Mr. Red Velvet Mite has been spotted again cleaning up the leaf detritus letting more light get to the young budding plants. Thanks creepy bright spidery looking mite!
In the heart of the valley you can spot (at least for a few more days in this form) the Giant Blue Cohosh (dark purple with the star flower) aka Squaw Root.
On the other trails, more bloodroot can be found budded and getting ready to bloom. The grape hyacinth are in full bloom, and the Mayapple are bursting out of the ground!
Beyond the details, a wider view of the area shows a broad diverse area where steams lead through wooded deciduous forest to a meadow which leads back to a coniferous forest.
We're lucky to have a place so broad and diverse to view flowers, wander about, and get lost for a few hours.
Johnson Woods Blooms
Watching the wildflower wake-up this year has been an incredible experience. As a lifetime learner, I'm thrilled to be able to field identify new (new to me) flowers, buds, blossoms. Always keep striving to know more, there's a great world out there that's waiting for you to find it!
Over Easter we took a walk out at Johnson Woods. There were some new buds and blooms on this visit... The first Mayapple of the season, early Virginia Creeper, Bristly Buttercup, Trillium in their enclosure, Trillium outside of their enclosure which had been stepped on (this is why we can't have nice things!), Sharp-leaved Toothwort, more Bristly Buttercup, and Golden Ragwort!
"Take only photos, leave only footprints" - Trail Etiquette and respect for the land.
As spring wakes up the woods, and hiking/outdoor season really begins, I'd like to bring up a few basic guidelines to ensure you and your fellow hikers will have a great time outside.
The old saying "Take only photos, leave only footprints" holds true:
- don't litter
- do clean up your doggy's do do
- don't pick the wildflowers, let everyone on the trails see their beauty
- don't play loud music: I never thought I would have to list this one but it's here for a reason...
- do stay on the marked trails to help prevent erosion and damaging delicate plant life
- do greet your fellow hikers, it's just good manners
- do walk through muddy puddles, walking around them widens the trail and erodes the land around
- do take lots of photos and keep wonderful memories
How to have the best time:
- prepare for the weather
- layer up! Winter takes more layers, spring and fall less, and summer even fewer. If it looks like rain take a poncho. Hiking through all the different elements can be rewarding if properly prepared for.
- wear appropriate footwear for the specific trail you'll be on
- eg: paved tennishoes -vs- muddy waterproof boots
- keep an open mind
- sometimes you'll see flowers, animals, rainbows, whatever, sometimes you won't
- be present
- put your phones away, this is time for you
- allow yourself these few minutes, hours, etc to be completely in the moment, forget about your to-do list, about that traffic jam, about your boss, about all of life's expectations and just listen to the sound of the Earth.
"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."
The trillium are opening their leaves and everywhere you look on top of the hill the green three can be spotted,
Dutchman's Breeches are forming their spurs (pant legs), and the hill is turning green with the growth of Ramps!
Trillium leaves are open!
Beyond the Trillium we ventured around the Outer Loop Trail, a favorite but don't expect a calm leisurely stroll, this trail has steep hills, sharp drop-offs, and is a true endurance test. Weaving in and out of pine groves and cool valleys it's certainly one of the most beautiful trails.
The top of the Trillium hill is bursting with life, everywhere you look there's something to see, trillium buds, dutchman breeches, blood root. This weekend I suspect we may have our first bloom!
Beyond the Trillium trail, the Spangler trail has a different variety of life, grape hyacinth more blood root, and these great little red critters - Red Velvet Mites. While I wouldn't recommend touching them, they aren't interested in humans, instead they eat the eggs of other insects as well as plant matter, cleaning the fallen leaves so we can see more blooming plant life!
Let me also note the importance of proper footwear, with spring showers brings higher rivers/creeks/streams making hopping across the stones a bit of a challenge, well gripping waterproof footwear is the best for spring hiking!
Remember to tread lightly, stay on the trail, and please don't pick the flowers!
Spangler & Johnson's Woods
Since I took Monday off to rest and recuperate (and catch up on long overdue house work) today you get a double post!
Good morning from the Trillium Trail
Strolling down the big hill at Spangler a plant caught my eye, buds forming, I believe we have the first blooming Dutchman's Breeches (could be Squirrel Corn, it's too early to tell as they're practically identical at this stage)! These are in the same family as the Bleeding Hearts, as they grow the spurs will elongate and the bottoms will turn yellow, they look like pants hanging on a clothes line.
Trillium is still taking its time which is okay, the bloom will be worth the wait.
The overview is getting greener, with the broad green plants which blanket the valley floor in the spring (identification to be determined).
Good Afternoon from Johnson's Woods!
After taking care of some business out of town, I stopped by Johnson Woods in the hope of finding Skunk Cabbage or Blood Root as it's a wet marshy area. Alas, neither of those were to be found today, but I did come across many other new plants I haven't yet found in the other parks!
Upon entering the Preserve I was greeted by the bright yellow Colts Foot flowers which were surrounded by the buds of Trout Lilies! Taking the big loop along the boardwalk I found many spring beauties, various other flowers (to be identified) and a sunning Garter Snake who didn't seem bothered by my presence, he was just having fun pretending to be a twig. The last flower was a budding Golden Ragwort (the purple color threw me off, but they bloom a beautiful golden yellow).
Now is a great time to explore your parks and pick out the subtle beauty growing all around!
The First Day of Spring!
Saturday morning Trillium
A cool Saturday morning I found a Partridge Berry vine, the trillium looking the same, the valley floor turning green, the messages of love from the violets, and a new dark trillium on the lower trail!
The first butterflies are beginning to wake up! This time of year you're likely to see Mourning Cloaks (look like swallowtails with less color, spots, and tails), and the Eastern Comma (shown below) as these butterflies overwinter living in trees and leaves eating sap, rotting fruit, and dung.
The trillium is still holding its form, but a few more were found nearby.
Beyond the trail I stopped by Rathburn Run and was pleasantly surprised by this curious little crayfish swimming about.
Trillium & Spangler trails 3/17
On this beautiful Thursday we took a trip around the park, hiking both the Trillium Trail and the Spangler trail (and a few offshoots in-between).
We found a great variety of plant life, hepatica, ground ivy, trout lily, and yes the first buds of a TRILLIUM!
Along the route we also found a relic from the park's pre-flood days (trail post with the Education, Outer Loop, & Spangler colors!)
Trillium Trail - March 16
A whole world is waking up at our feet.
Trip to Sandy Ridge Reservation
"Sandy Ridge Reservation is a 310 acre wetland and wildlife preserve located in North Ridgeville. The park opened in 1999 and has quickly become a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts and one of the most popular parks for birding in Lorain County. The reservation lies on level, soggy ground flanked to the north and south by ancient beach ridges and consists of forests and open lands to explore."
We made it up to Sandy Ridge Reservation on a cool Tuesday afternoon, the sky was overcast, but the ducks don't mind. This was a new park to us, one we hadn't explored yet, but we heard wonderful things from birding groups and bird enthusiasts so we made a point to make the trip. Upon arriving at the Wetland Center you can walk over an observation bridge to get to the trailhead that leads through the 'wet woods' which eventually opens to the wetlands area.
Walking around the loop there were signs of beavers helping restore the wetlands, muskrats swimming about, a variety of waterfowl - mergansers, mallards, shovelers, geese, grebe, and atop a dead tree in the middle was the bald eagle!
I highly recommend taking a stroll if you're in the area, as the migration goes through the birds will change, last year there were Great White Egrets walking the trail!
More info on the park can be found here!
Another lovely, but rainy, hike along the trillium. Although it's not a trillium, we have our first bloom along the trail!
A variety of other hepatica found a few days later!
The first big migratory wave has come through! The Funk Wilderness Area (off of state route 95 just east of Wooster) is fluttering with activity. I made it out one rainy afternoon and was pleasantly surprised by a variety of mallards, pin-tails, mergansers, tundra swans, grebes and i'm sure there are more than I could see!
After the past two days of great winds, most of these ducks have continued their journey north, however, the next wave should be stopping by soon!
Trillium Day 3
After beginning our hike on the Trillium Trail, we took a detour down one of the new trails to the Scenic Overlook. This was built in the fall of 2015 overlooking the trillium valley. The new trail (Kenwood Trail-white blazes) is a nice relaxing stroll that leads along a neighboring farm, through the woods, down the hill slowly where it meets up with the lower flatter trillium.
Once back on the trail there were a few new species of undetermined plants but no trillium as of yet.
Trillium Trail Day 2
Despite the rain, it was a beautiful day for a hike. The warm rain brought out the neon green yellow of the mosses and flooded the creeks and streams.
No trilliums, but the first buds of a spring beauty were visible!
Spring is a great time of year to explore your parks; watching the slow progression from brown to green to bloom. I'm making a point of walking the Trillium Trail every day to find the first trillium bloom. Day 1, if you look close beneath the leaves there's a bright green world waking.
Spring is coming to the bog!
The frogs are peeping, the ground is soggy, and there is an electricity in the air. Spring is practically here!
This is a great time to visit Brown's Lake Bog, with the bog maintaining warmer temperatures through the winter, it's easy to imagine spring starting here and moving out. New growth is sprouting everywhere you look but the insects haven't started swarming yet.
"The naturally acidic properties of sphagnum and its ability to insulate the water from rapid air temperature changes provides the special conditions needed to maintain the boreal plant community including round-leaved sundew, large cranberry, grass-pink orchid and marsh five-finger. The lowland woods south and northeast of the main bog support shallow ephemeral pools during much of the year."
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.