April 27 Soup ‘n Walk: a report from the field

We had a perfect spring day and had a huge group of 28 attend for the shorter walk. Almost half were new guests at the Arboretum, so I gave a longer version of the introduction to Adkins. Zaida Wing drove the golf cart and Shirley Bailey held up the rear as we had quite a long line on the trails. 

As we started out from the Visitor’s Center, we noted that the redbud that was not blooming last month was almost finished and that the lovely-heart shaped leaves would soon appear. Everyone was wowed by the architecture and beautiful blooms on the dogwood. From the bridge, we were wowed again by the size the skunk cabbage had grown to and by the golden groundsel and Virginia bluebells with the lovely lady ferns around them. The paw paw still had blooms, and we talked about the tulip tree being our signature tree. 

golden groundsel (Packera aurea)

golden groundsel (Packera aurea)

Along the path, we stopped to admire spring ladies, purple violets, and May apples as we approached the next bridge. The devil’s walking stick was just starting to show its compound leaf, and we saw a frog in the vernal pool. We were all struck by how much sun is now in that area and were wondering what will happen there now that the trees are down. The root structure that is visible there is always a source of conversation, and as the mud crumbles away and leaves “windows” it is even more irresistible. The strawberry bush didn’t have fruit yet, but we could see tiny buds. On the Upland Trail we saw bluets, rattlesnake orchid, and rattlesnake weed with its red veins. 

Many guests noted the death of the evergreens, which led to a discussion of forest succession. I think the tour was enjoyed by all. Thank you, Zaida, for driving (and for finding the rattlesnakes), and Shirley, for adding info on birds.

by Mary Jo Kubeluis
Arboretum Trustee and docent

pinxterbloom azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides)

pinxterbloom azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides)

Weather for the April 27 Soup ’n Walk was sunny and in the high 60s. We had 34 paid guests and some very dedicated volunteers. About six guests came for the two-hour walk, and one who came said at the end of the walk, “Oh, was that two hours?!” The time really flew by as we were treated to one fantastic view after another. We did the South Tuckahoe Valley Trail, and it was lush with green leaves. At the beginning we saw white dogwood, yellow sassafras blooms, pink spring beauties, and some pinxterbloom azaleas that were just starting to bloom. The spring beauties will spread their seeds by spraying them around as they ripen. There were berries on the shadbush and blueberry bushes. Some were fascinated by the princess pines and learned that they grow very slowly and should be protected. We did see what I think were some huckleberries still in bloom near where the path goes around some fallen trees.

spring beauty (Claytonia virginiana)

spring beauty (Claytonia virginiana)

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

sickle pod (Arabis canadensis)

sickle pod (Arabis canadensis)

The spice bushes at the next bridge crossing had finished blooming, but there were sickle pod or rock cress, spring beauty, Jack-in-the-pulpit, May apple, lady fern, and Indian cucumber in abundance. Further along at the next bridge, the skunk cabbage leaves looked like a tropical paradise along with more spring beauty and Jack-in-the-pulpit. One tree had blown over and was covered with skunk cabbages and spring beauty blooms. There was a patch of cranefly orchids with a few leaves still showing. We also found a few bloodroot leaves showing off the sticky eliasome pods that the ants will carry off and help spread the seeds. On the way back, we spotted some partridge berries under the leaves and some rattlesnake weed leaves with their dramatic red veins and one plant that had buds already. Blockston Branch trail had golden groundsel, Virginia bluebells, and paw paw blooms for the visitors.

By now we were quite hungry and the delightful aroma of chicken rice asparagus soup greeted our noses. The room was beautifully decorated by Lynn and Norma Jean with pink azaleas and blue phlox from the plant sale, compliments of Joanne. The tables had bright yellow color. Our salad was cabbage and carrots in honor of the skunk cabbages and yellow flowers. We had ancient grain bread with buckwheat honey and baked pineapple. The room was filled with people and chatter as we enjoyed the fellowship and food. Nutrition info about protein and all the recipes were shared. Some were new to the Arboretum, and when I asked, they said they would definitely come again. Thanks to Mary Jo, who led the one-hour walk, and to Shirley, Zaida, and Alice, who all helped with many things, and also to Diana at the front desk, who greeted all. My thanks to the staff who helped set up this special, and to Alison, who arranges the room so beautifully.

some of our guestssome of our volunteers

by Julianna Pax
Arboretum docent



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