Creeping into Autumn

Virginia Creeper Turning

I took this picture a couple weeks ago as the local Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) population began changing into its vibrant red garb.  Thank you, Nature!!!

Virginia Creeper often gets mistaken for Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), but is 5-leaved, whereas the Poison Ivy is 3-leaved.  Both are native to this area, but I’d highly recommend Virginia Creeper for your garden or natural landscaping.

Just make sure not to landscape with Poison Ivy, unless you’re itching to repel your neighbors…  Ha!

Bring back Wildflowers, Bring back Monarchs!

Bring back Wildflowers, Bring back Monarchs!

Orange, Black, White. In flight.Monarch on a Thistle
Delicate beauty. Glorious sight.
Please don’t disappear!

Picky young eater.
So no Milkweed, no Monarchs!
Grow native, save lives.

Learn more:

Bluebell Symphony

They are here!  The Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are finally in bloom.  I walked down to the bottoms near the Meramec River at the Shaw Nature Reserve to find these wonderful spring colors filling the forest floor.  It had just rained the day before, so the cloudy day and the excess moisture certainly presented some interesting photographing opportunities.

Enjoy!

Spring Almost

Last week I enjoyed a solitary walk through Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center and Reserve near Kirkwood, Missouri.  All was fairly quiet.  A gentle, cool breeze swept through the bare tree branches and rattled the brown leaves still clinging to a few stubborn oaks and maples.  Leaf litter decorates the entire forest floor;  it crackles as I step through it.  While the day is still cool (mid 40’s), the Sun’s energy, like the breeze, sweeps past the trees and warms me as I walk.

All is quiet.  But I can feel the change in season coming.  Some trees are beginning to show their plump buds, ready to spring into action.  In just a few weeks, I can imagine the wonderful bluebells (Mertensia virginica – previous post) and wood sorrel (Oxalis violaceaprevious post)  emerging again and filling the brown forest floor with brilliant color.

But for now, it is still.  It is good.  Go out and enjoy it.  Then, I recommend returning every week or two to watch the dramatic changes.  First the spring ephemerals fill the forest floor.  Next, shrubs and trees begin to flower and leaf out, depending on their mannerisms.  Soon after that, the life-giving light that once warmed the spring ephemeral flowers will be squandered by the trees.

Powder Valley, early March

Powder Valley, early March

Streamside, Powder Valley, early March

Streamside, Powder Valley, early March

 

Gift of the Goldenrod

DSC_2317a

Took a quick walk today in the unseasonably warm weather to Queeny County Park in the suburbs west of St. Louis.  In the small restored prairie, most of the growing season’s activity was done…shades of brown, dull greens, and faded reds mark the latter days of autumn.  But late-blooming plants like Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) have just recently gone to seed.  The result, in the falling fall sun, is this glowing plumage.

 

Muir’s Biblical Reason for Praising Plants

On his 1,000 mile walk from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico, not long after the Civil War ended, John Muir encountered a man who questioned his motive to study plants, or ‘botanize’ as he often put it.

The man said, “You look like a strong-minded man, and surely you are able to do something better than wander the country and look at weeds and blossoms.  These are hard times, and real work is required of every man that is able.  Picking up blossoms doesn’t seem to be a man’s work at all in any kind of times.”

John Muir asked, ” You are a believer in the Bible, are you not?”  The man replied, “Oh, yes.”

Muir then responded, “Well, you know Solomon was a strong-minded man, and he is generally believed to have been the very wisest man the world ever saw, and yet he considered it was worth while to study plants; not only to go and pick them up as I am doing, but to study them; and you know we are told that he wrote a book about plants, not only of the great cedars of Lebanon, but of little bits of things growing in the cracks of the walls.

“Therefore, you see that Solomon differed very much more from you than from me in this matter.  I’ll warrant you he had many a long ramble in the mountains of Judea, and had he been a Yankee he would likely have visited every weed in the land.  And again, do you not remember that Christ told his disciples to ‘consider the lilies how they grow,’ and compared their beauty with Solomon in all his glory?  Now, whose advice am I to take, yours or Christ’s?  Christ says, ‘Consider the lilies.’  You say, ‘Don’t consider them.  It isn’t worth while for any strong-minded man.'”

[Passage from A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf by John Muir]

This is one of many reasons I enjoy John Muir’s work and inspires me to be a steward of Earth.
It is indeed a worthy and prudent cause to understand God’s masterful craftsmanship on this Earth.  Knowing what’s out there is enjoyment in itself. However, benefits to humanity can be gained by studying flora and fauna, which can be used for healing, relaxation, shelter, or nourishment.  Protecting that which we need now, and that which we need for later, seems far wiser than exploiting the world unchecked, unknowing, and unrelenting, without regard for ‘later.’

If we understand what we have, we understand what can be lost.  However this world came to be (whether you wish to debate creation/evolution is irrelevant), it seems appropriate to study and care for it.

[Learn more about Creation Care and Restoring Eden]

Desaturated Prairie

Here’s the last photo from my visit to Shaw Nature Reserve last weekend.

Another prairie plant I’m unfamiliar with.  I suppose that makes it easier for me to mess with the saturation/contrast of the original then…

The original.

Let me know if you’re familiar with this plant species, genus, or family.