Join us Saturday, May 18 for the Tuckahoe Creek & Beyond Soup ‘n Walk! Following this program, the Soup ‘n Walk program will be on hiatus until September.
We had a really nice day for Soup ’n Walk. It had rained through the night, but the weather cooperated and it was sunny and in the 60s by 11 a.m. There were 31 guests signed up. Most had been here before. One group mentioned that they had come all the way from Salisbury. At the Visitor’s Center we could see the plants for the coming plant sale next weekend. They were not available yet, but it was very inviting and many, if not all, will be back for the sale. Margan G. gave a wonderful introduction to Adkins Arboretum, including the many coming events. We then split into two groups and found many of the same things on our tours.
My group started at the beaver domicile along Blockston Branch. We saw it from the swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), which was just beginning to show some leaves. My parents used to say that when the oak leaves are the size of squirrels’ ears, it was time to plant the potatoes. We then went to the bridge for a better look at the beavers’ pantry. They poke their gnawed branches into the bottom of the creek until needed for meals. Today the water was very high on the wetlands, as it had rained a good bit the night before. We could hear the workmen on the parking lot. Some of us knew that it was being improved for better water runoff from the surrounding fields to the wetlands and ultimately to Tuckahoe Creek, the Choptank River, and the Chesapeake Bay. It will have swales and a rain garden as well as pavers to help filter the runoff. It should show much improvement by the fall. We passed some smooth alders (Alnus serrulata) on the wetland showing their cones before leaving the bridge.
Heading to the woods, we viewed the yellow sassafras (Sassafras albidum) blooms along the edge of the woods and a few white blooms on the dogwood (Cornus florida) by this entrance. We were headed to the sassafras entrance and passed more blooming yellow sassafras. They are lovely with their gold dust trim. Later, some of the trees (the females) will have blue-black drupes on red pedicels to attract the birds. Continuing on, we saw lots of spring beauty(Claytonia virginica). We walked leisurely, as no one seemed to want to hurry, and just took in all the woodsy beauty surrounding us. Further along, we came across a patch of Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum). I remembered from other years that close to this patch was a very large “Jill-in-the-pulpit” that may have mothered the lovely patch nearby. The Christmas ferns (Polystichum achrostichoides) were sporting many hairy fiddleheads that provided lovely contrast to the leaves.
Many noted that there seemed to be more skunk cabbage plants (Symplocarpus foetidus) near where a clump of trees had fallen about ten years ago, opening up the canopy to more sunlight. We could now spot some mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) already in bloom with this added light. The mayapples spread in patches; we only see the fruiting bodies of some of the plants, which are all connected underground. We soon came to another bridge, and the view was breathtaking. As we leaned over the railing, we had a panoramic view of the floodplain, which was covered with spring beauty, skunk cabbage leaves, and even a few lady fern (Atherium felix femina). The water from Blockston Branch was flowing pretty fast, but it had covered the floodplain with nutrients as it passed through, making this a wonderful nursery for our native plants. We continued onto the upland trail and saw some Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum) and bluets (Houstonia cerulea)amongst the moss-covered sides of the path. Also some pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta) blooming and rattlesnake weed with buds, ready to bloom. A few leaves of the lady slippers (Cypripedium acaule)were poking through the leavesbetween the oak trees and the pine trees that help feed the mycorrhizae fungi on the roots of the lady slipper.
Another stop was at the paw paw trees (Asimina triloba). Someone had pointed out a zebra swallowtail butterfly zipping by. They need the paw paw leaves for their life cycle. The lurid purple blooms were awesome, and there were many on this clump of trees. We were amazed at the golden yellow blooms of the golden groundsel (Packera aurea) and the Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) next to them. What a lovely sight along the banks of Blockston Branch. We could also spot some Turk’s cap lily sprouts (Lilium superbum). These will bloom in July/August.
Now we hurried back to our lunch, which featured the green, purple, and yellow colors from our walk. We had ginger carrot soup, black-eyed pea salad over green lettuce, ancient grain bread with apricot jam, and almond coconut cupcakes that were gluten free and covered with lemon frosting and colorful jelly beans. A large arrangement on the table had many plants from my yard. There were paw paw, service berry, hearts a’ bursting, chokeberry, spice bush, hican leaves, coastal azalea, fragrant sumac, and fothergilla blooms to talk about. The menus were shared and their nutritional values discussed. There were samples of amaranth and quinoa grain given to those who might want to make the ancient grain bread. There was a list of good choices in our diet and bad choices that we need to avoid. I also handed out color copies of the Omniheart diet, which has much research to prove its value and is based on lots of good things like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and many had come with friends and family. We had a golf cart for someone who could not walk, and Al M. gave her a tour as he drove the cart.
Thanks to all our loyal staff and volunteers: Pat B., Suzann A., Joyce W., Sheila D., Marilyn R., Margan G., Joyce A., Al M., and Gail R. You make this wonderful event possible. This is a great opportunity to showcase our fantastic Adkins Arboretum.
by Julianna Pax
Adkins Arboretum docent, Maryland Master Naturalist