Mid-February Walk

Hi River Roaders,

One of the great things about taking a walk is that you can have multiple levels of focus- the entire horizon, the next hill, a grove of trees, a single shrub, or a single flower or stone. February is a good time of year to slow down and look for beauty at the smaller end of the scale.

This week is the first week of Lent in the Christian calendar. Appropriately, I saw my first Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis) in bloom this week. These plants, which are native to Greece and Turkey, put on a nice display in the Memorial Garden.

Mushrooms are the spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus. These mushrooms on a dead ash tree by the springs indicate that they are quite happy in winter.

I have a new found appreciation for the moss growing under the beech tree in the Memorial Garden. Its texture and color varies with the light and moisture thru the year. Right now it’s covering about half the circle. I’m hoping we can gradually get it to reclaim the full circle.

The patterns of nature are amazing.

This is also the time of year for Stinking hellebore to bloom. Don’t worry, they only stink when you crush the leaves.

Every year the Maryland Native Plant Society identifies a “Plant of the Year”. This year the focus is on grasses. I’ve got to admit that I’ve been “plant blind” to grasses for many years. I can now identify a handful, including this Poverty Grass (Danthonia spicata) growing under an oak tree by the upper parking lot. The twisted older leaves are quite diagnostic.

A log in the memorial garden.

Earlier this year, there was a surplus of gravel from the new front path that we were able to distribute around the site. I find the colors, shapes, and textures of this Delaware river gravel to be very comforting.

Hang in there, spring is right around the corner. As we approach February 20, you can take some comfort that the darkest third of the year is behind us.

Take care,