Note: The next Soup ‘n Walk program is this coming Saturday, April 20. Just a few spots remain! Click here for more information and to register.
Today we had a cool sunny day for our walk in the woods with the temp in the 40s and a slight breeze. We had a full signup of 30 guests who were eager to walk in the woods. Our theme was to look for the pink and purple blooms and listen for frogs and birds. Margan G. gave the introduction and found out that some had not been on this walk before.
We split into two groups. My group went to the bridge overlooking the parking lot, where construction was progressing to improve stormwater runoff with swales and a rain garden as well as pavers for parking. There will be some new plants as well. By fall, we will see much progress. We also checked on the beavers’ activity and the storage of branches in the stream. Many trees have been protected with chicken wire fencing from their voracious appetite.
From here, we headed to the persimmon trail past the bluebird house and stopped to admire the dogwood’s buds and checkered bark.
Looking over the railing at the bridge, we checked for skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) leaves and a few blooms. Going on, we checked the paw paw (Asimina triloba) leaf tips, which are like a cat’s paw and very soft. Many green leaves of golden groundsel (Packera aurea) and Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) were showing, which is a preview of the blooms to come next month. At the next bridge, we noted the winding path of the creek through the wooded floodplain, which allows the water to deposit sand and also slows its path to the Tuckahoe and, finally, the Chesapeake Bay.
Cranefly orchid (Tipularia discolor) leaves were still quite green with purple underneath since there are no upper-story leaves to block the sunlight. More green leaves were visible as we passed our evergreen Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), which is getting ready to put up its fiddle heads for new leaves soon. We turned down the South Tuckahoe trail and noted the large pink buds on the blueberry bush.
Scraping a few leaves near the trail gave us a view of downy rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera pubescens) leaves on our way to the spice bush bridge. The rattlesnake markings of white on green give it the name. Here, the bridge goes over a very wet area due to all the rain this year. The spice bush (Lindera benzoin) and nearby early spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) and bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) were not blooming but should be visible next month in this warm microclimate.
Back at the Visitor’s Center, we could smell the delicious kale and chicken soup with lemon served with a sauerkraut salad, flaxseed wheat bread with raspberry jam, and Black Forest cake with cherries. These recipes represent the plants we saw on the trail, such as the skunk cabbage, pink buds, and checkered bark . We discussed the recipes and answered questions about nutrition. A handout on the grandparents’ diet was in the packet. This was a way of saying that some of our foods, such as beef, lead to a lot of CO2 in our atmosphere and by eating less meat and more vegetables and fruit, we might be saving the planet for our grandchildren. Guests were from many of the surrounding counties, and some were from across the bridge. Many were interested in cookbooks, since someone mentioned how good it was. This was a welcome surprise for me. Part of my reason for doing the S&W is to encourage people to enjoy our natives and do some healthy cooking, too. Nature, nurture, and nutrition.
Our wonderful volunteers were Pat B., Margan G., Joyce A., Sheila D., Tawna M., Gail R., and Al M. The staff was very helpful. and most of the work was done before we got there. Thanks to everyone.
by Julianna Pax
Maryland Master Naturalist, Arboretum docent