Searching for winter green: February’s Soup ‘n Walk

Winter at Adkins Arboretum brought many guests (25) to today’s  Soup ’n Walk. The temperature in the 50s and lots of sun helped. We were  searching for the green in nature and found it everywhere. Starting at the  wetland, guests pointed out green leaves on the sweetbay magnolia, holly trees, inkberry bushes, wax myrtle, red cedar, loblolly, and Virginia pine.
Blockston Branch was lined with soft fuzzy pretty green moss,  and green leaves of the golden groundsel and skunk cabbage were visible. The  skunk cabbage had many purple-striped blooms along the banks. The absence of leaves on the winter trees allows these plants to soak up valuable sunshine in winter. The skunk cabbage with its long roots helps hold soil and is part of  our riparian buffer to help the Bay. The cranefly orchid takes advantage of  this winter sun as well. The purple underleaf of the cranefly orchid and the  purple-striped flower of the skunk cabbage made a pretty palette.
Our group elected to do a more strenuous walk, still an hour  long, but we hiked along the Tuckahoe Trail and out through the meadow so we  could greet Lily the goat. We saw the evergreen Christmas fern and lycopodium  along the Tuckahoe trail.  Along the way  in the woods, we discovered trees that had been uprooted by hurricane Irene with  the wind and flooding that had occurred. Much sand was also evident along the floodplain. How will this affect our ephemerals this spring? We will see. We  enjoyed Lily’s and her two sisters’ delight at seeing us and coming to the fence.  The goat story was related to the guests, and we hope to have them help in our  challenge to get rid of the invasives.
Bev G. took one group on a leisurely walk to visit the various  moss patches along the Upland Walk and Blockston Branch. She shared some moss information  with them and with the whole group at the luncheon. Mosses have unique methods of collecting water and surviving drought, and they even harbor water bears! Nancy  B. had centerpieces of native plants with moss underneath and talked about  these at the luncheon. All enjoyed the chicken soup with kale and the salad  with broccoli buds to celebrate the skunk cabbage and the green in the woods.  We had green jelly on the pumpernickel bread. The spicy green pepper was more  popular than the mint, and we finished with coffee, tea, and gingerbread carrot  cake with lemon sauce.
Arboretum docent naturalists Nancy Beatty (left) 
and Beverly Gemmill
Our volunteers were Bev G., Nancy B., Shirley B., Pat B., and  Zaida W. We had some last-minute emergencies with volunteers who couldn’t make  it, but everyone pitched in and did a yeoman’s share of the work. Thanks to all  who helped, including the staff that helped set up for the event. In March and  April, we will try some two-hour walks and will still have a one-hour walk. 
by Julianna Pax
Arboretum docent naturalist
February 18, 2012

Don’t miss the March 17 and April 21 Soup ‘n Walk programs! 
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