Soup and Walk, June 19, 2010
Saturday was a hot day but the Soup and walk was planned to be in the cooler forest and stress ferns. How much cooler could we choose to be?
I got there early and docents were already setting up for our visitors. We were expecting a large group from Methodist Manor House from Seaford, DE plus others. That group arrived a little early and had plenty of time to check out the bookstore and the shop. Visiting with them I found some folks had been here before but most had not, also among the group were several retired teachers, a minister, and a nurse. Of course since I came from DE we had to compare notes on who knew who.
We gathered on the patio and walked to the entrance to the forest. One of the visitors asked about the history of the arboretum so we talked about Leon Andress and his desire to keep place from being flooded for a lake and saved for the trees.
At the first bridge we talked about the outstanding group of ferns, and we talked about what caused such a lush area. It had what ferns need to grow and flourish –water and shade Julie had picked a lady fern frond and a New York fern and we pointed out the things to look for to identify them.
Though it was a fern walk, folks asked about the paw – paw, I pointed out the fruit and mentioned that this is the farthest north it grows in the wild. Everyone seemed impressed with the huge leaves. One of the visitors broke out in the Picking Paw Paws song.
At the next bridge we talked about naming the parts of the fern, it was a fun exercise to see how many remembered the after I first pointed out the parts, the rachis, the rhizome, the pinna, pinule, spores and frond is made of the blade and stipe. I made a fiddlehead from a pipe cleaner to demonstrate one because there weren’t any in sight.
The cinnamon fern does not have the fertile frond right now but it is tall and impressive, after making note of the beads on the back of the frond and pointed out the wooly tufts at the base of the frond used by ground nesting birds to line their nests, which led to a discussion of uses of ferns in the environment.
Everyone was interested in the tall bracken fern with its three triangular shaped fronds and that it is found worldwide. We discussed the dangers that creatures including humans take when they eat ferns.
We checked out the netted chain fern and tried to compare one to the sensitive fern. It was getting warm even in the forest and most everyone seemed to be managing except one lady she had a portable fan and seemed warm but she said she was fine and wanted to continue on.
I knew the last three ferns were all together further up the trail so we did not stop for the ebony spleen wort. Up the trail past the downed log is a wonderful area of Christmas fern, a rattle snake fern and the ebony spleenwort. Wort an unusual word, means used as medicine so I explained the doctrine of signatures. I explained the rattlesnake fern is in the adder’s tongue family and looked carefully at that fern. One visitor disagreed about naming it rattlesnake and said it looked like a ballet dancer, we all could see that comparison too. The last fern was the Christmas fern they all loved the pinna shaped like a stocking, We discussed how many ferns have the spores on the back of the blade and pointed out the the fertile fronds on the Christmas fern and the ebony spleenwort.
As we walked out of the forest the visitor that was having trouble with the heat was having to stop more often and for longer so Shirley and Zaida went on with the rest of the group and Zaida went down to the nursery for the golf cart and brought it back to us. It was a welcome sight, because that lady needed to have a rest, air conditioning and some water even though she kept protesting she was ok. Michelle met her with a cool glass of water and we went into lunch. After lunch she said she was feeling better. I really am glad Zaida went after the golf cart. It was a relief to see her coming like the Lone Ranger to save the day. It is my opinion the golf cart should be up at the visitor’s center to be available in case it is needed when we are leading walks. All docents should know where the cart key is kept and how to drive it also.