September Soup & Walk by Julianna Pax


Today was just a wonderful day for a walk in both meadows. Eight of us also did Nancy’s (North) meadow after lunch. The sun was shining, breezes blew now and then and temperature was in the eighty’s. Perfect fall weather for our 27 guests and 5 volunteers.

Starting toward the woods we glimpsed a few Maryland asters and saw lots of pearly everlasting throughout the meadow. There was a deep yellow rudbeckia and more yellow camphor and masses of yellow goldenrod of various types. The Indian grasses were sticking there tall heads among the big bluestem and the purple top. Some still had yellow bloom showing. Yellow seemed to be the predominant flower color, one of the guests commented.

Beverly told us a bit about the pleasant smelling white pearly everlasting and passed around a sample to sniff. She mentioned that it does well in dried arrangements. She added that the hollow stems of the mares tail (a very aggressive native but pretty in the fall) had been used as a drinking straw before our modern straws came about. She also wisely mentioned that many think they are allergic to the goldenrod. She explained that the goldenrod often grows near ragweed and that ragweed pollen is windblown but goldenrod is insect pollinated and therefore ragweed is the culprit.

The layers of the meadow were quite visible as we turned the corner and continued on the mowed strip through the meadow. The top layer of mostly big bluestem and Indian grass act as shade and windbreak for the middle layer of flowers and the ground hugging layer of clumping plants and grasses. Most of the meadow is underground as roots. Bev mentioned that the third layer is helpful to wildlife like rabbits who can tunnel through and also forage on the lovely greens. We also saw low growing patches of purple love grass and also peeking through were a few lonely plants of sundrops (evening primrose). Rounding the next corner was a breathtaking view of sumac with maroon berries bordered in the back with trees and in the front with masses of goldenrod. The sumac berries when they first turn red make a wonderful pink tea or lemonade that is high in vitamin C. This as well as rose hips would have provided C to colonists and Indians before the era of grocery stores and citrus supplies.

Returning to the visitor’s center we found sights of the meadow in the vases, compliments of Buck and Paul and smells from the soup emanating from the soup pots. We enjoyed our meal and Herby my rabbit puppet made a brief appearance and welcomed the guests and gave his appreciation for the treats in the meadow for him and his family. There were 3 children in the group and they were smiling and enjoying the fun. Since we were in the meadow today, after going over the recipes, I talked about vitamin D which we also get from walks in the sunny meadow.

Later Ann R and 6 others and I went to Nancy’s meadow which is very different and has mostly short grasses in contrast with the many tall warm season grasses in the South meadow. We saw lots and lots of sumac, goldenrod, poke weed and some pearly everlasting. I mentioned the lemurs in the Baltimore Zoo which enjoy sumac leaves. This walk is slightly uphill and there are marvelous views with nice sweeping vistas of color where the goldenrod, pearly everlasting and broomsedge have spread. A fox has been known to have a den in the middle and deer tracks were visible on the trail. Blue bird boxes were seen in both meadows.

Thanks to all (esp Pat B Bev G Norma J and Zaida W) who made this wonderful program possible. Several guests were new to the arboretum and the Oct Soup & Walk is already overbooked. SOS, if anyone saved 2006 copies of my reports please let me know. Carol J Margan G and my sent mail helped restore 2007-2009.

Thanks, Julianna

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